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Second FedExCup begins at The Barclays

From Kenny Perry to Lee Janzen, the FedEx Cup playoffs offer plenty of incentive whether you are ranked the highest or lowest in the field.

Back for a second year and with a restructured points system that better rewards strong week-to-week performances over the next four events, the playoffs begin on Thursday with The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club.

After each of the tournaments the field will be reduced according to the FedEx Cup rankings, with 120 of this week’s 135 starters moving on to next weekend’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the top 70 after that progressing to the BMW Championship a week later with only the leading 30 players in the rankings qualifying for the finale at the Tour Championship at the end of September.

For Perry, second in the FedEx Cup rankings following a three-win regular season and the highest ranked player among the top 144 eligible to play this week in the absence of Tiger Woods, there is a point to prove while for Janzen, No.144 heading into this week’s event, the new scoring system allows the last guy in to vault to the top.

“You couldn’t move much last year,” Perry said. “And now it’s like here I come in here this year and I think 11,000 points is first place, if I understand correctly.

“I guess if the scenarios work, the guy who finishes 144th, if he wins, he could be No. 1 in points next week, if I have the math right. I’m like y’all, I don’t know exactly how it goes.”

Perry will be competing following treatment for a scratched cornea that forced his withdrawal following the opening round of the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills two weeks ago.

He was on a hot streak starting with victory at The Memorial and included wins at the Buick Open and John Deere Classic as well as two top-sixes and a tie for 24. The run came to an abrupt halt at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational when he finished tied for 66th, a week before his trip to Oakland Hills.

Whatever the permutations, Perry is clear what is expected and he is not overly thrilled.

“I’m definitely going to have to play well,” he said. What I think is kind of a bummer, if I don’t play well these three weeks, I won’t be in THE TOUR Championship. I mean, I’ve had a great year, and I think that’s not right. I don’t think that’s fair at all for me to win three times and be kicked out of THE TOUR Championship, but I’ve kind of been kicked out of all of the tournaments anyway.

“I won the Memorial and that didn’t get me in the U.S. Open. Anyway, that’s how my year has been going and I have to keep proving myself and I have to somehow get back on the horse and play well this week.”

Perry’s mantle as the hottest player on tour has been handed unequivocally to Padraig Harrington, the Irish world number three who in the last five weeks has won back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship.

His win at Oakland Hills moved him to fourth in the standings and with third-ranked Phil Mickelson will join Perry at the 10th tee on Thursday at 8:16 EDT.

Harrington believes a victory at The Barclays for any one of the current top 10 and the 11,000 points that goes with it could seal overall FedEx Cup victory.

“There’s lots to play for,” Harrington said. “You know, anybody realistically, anybody in the Top-10 I suppose, if they get at least one win and then follow it up with some good performances, can win this FedEx Cup; maybe anybody outside might need two wins.

“But there’s a lot to play for in that sense. I’m ready to go.”

A lot to play for there may well be but that didn’t stop one final withdrawal on Wednesday. Bob Tway headed south to Pinehurst in North Carolina when he received news that his son Kevin, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, had reached the round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur.

And there, father will caddy for son without the need of a calculator or an eye on the points table.

 

August 21, 2008

 




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