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Players wonder how FedExCup will play out

The U.S. PGA Tour's inaugural FedExCup playoff series starts on Thursday with the Barclays Classic, and golfers are wondering just how the four-tournament season finale will work out.

A $10 million bonus will be awarded to the points leader of the series played over four successive weeks, ending with a field of 30 at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

"I think it's a bigger thing if you win it than if you don't win it," British Open champion Padraig Harrington told reporters at Westchester Country Club on Tuesday.

"It's a bit like the TPC (The Players Championship). If you win the TPC, it's the fifth major. If you don't win it, it's not the fifth major. That's kind of like the FedExCup. It will take a while for it to build up."

The absence of world number one Tiger Woods from the first playoff event will slow the series right out of the gate.

Woods, citing fatigue after posting back-to-back victories including a grueling run at the U.S. PGA Championship earlier this month at sweltering Southern Hills, is one of six players from the 144 who qualified on points skipping the Barclays.

By virtue of his big points lead, Woods is assured of a berth in the Tour Championship regardless of results from the first three events.

Each tournament in the series has a $7 million purse and will pay $1.26 million to the winner. Golfers also earn points for their finish and fields will be progressively smaller.

The Deutsche Bank Championship next week in Boston will have a field of 120. Fifty players will be eliminated there for the 70-man field at the BMW Championship in Chicago, where the final 30 are determined for the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Some players have expressed disappointment that the big bonus is deferred, earmarked for retirement. Others are embracing the playoffs as an historic first as golf tries to mirror the season-ending playoff drama of other sports.

"It should be pretty simple to get yourself fired up to win something for the first time it's ever been around," said tour veteran Woody Austin, runner-up to Woods at the U.S. PGA.

"It could be perfect for someone like me. I'm just a journeyman guy, I've been around for a long time, but I've never done anything spectacular or whatever."

Tour rookie Brandt Snedeker, 26, jumped to ninth in the points after his first win last week at the Wyndham Championship.

"It's very rare that everybody in the golfing world is a rookie at something, and we're all rookies this week," Snedeker said about the chase for the $10 million prize.

Snedeker said he had not figured out where he needed to finish to advance to the finals.

"It's a little too confusing for me. I'm not that smart," the American said. "I stick with the simple stuff. I know if I play well this week, then good things happen."

August 23, 2007

 




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