With the notable exception of Tiger Woods, whose admirable run at the Wyndham Championship derailed with a triple bogey on the back nine, 125 players advanced to the 2015 Fed Ex Cup Playoffs with a shot at the $10,000,000 bonus that will be awarded to the winner at the conclusion of the TOUR Championship on September 24.
Commenced in 2007 as a means to maintain interest in the Tour after the PGA Championship, the Fed Ex Cup has become a mainstay of the season. The four events — the Barclays Championship, the Deutsche Bank Championship, the BMW Championship, and the TOUR Championship — combine for a total payout of $67 million. However, only 30 players will survive to play in the TOUR Championship with a shot at the bonus money.
This year, the points at stake for each playoff event have been reduced from 2.500 to 2,000 in order to place more emphasis on season-long excellence, while still maintaining volatility and movement through the playoffs. Unchanged is the points reset before the TOUR Championship, which ensures that each of the 30 competitors has a shot at winning the Cup. The top five points leaders are guaranteed a Cup victory if they win the tournament.
The Barclays Championship replaced the longstanding Westchester Classic in the PGA Tour schedule. The venue is the historic Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J., where Donald Ross was hired to design a new course in 1916. Though relatively short at 7,012 yards, like all Donald Ross layouts the players are faced with subtle challenges around the greens, and must place tee shots into the proper portions of fairways to have optimum approaches to the greens.
Over the past ten years, Gil Hanse directed an extensive restoration and renovation of the course. In the process of removing over 1,200 trees, lost bunkers were discovered. Most of the greens were expanded.
Jason Day, riding momentum from his victory at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, turned in an impressive performance at the Barclays, coasting to a 6-shot victory on the strength of his final round 62. Observers once questioned whether Day had the mettle to close tournaments. With three victories in his past four events, including his first major, such concerns have been put to rest. But for the phenomenal year of Jordan Spieth, Day (who is the Fed Ex Cup points leader going into the Deutsche Bank Championship) would be a cinch for Player of the Year.
New England golf fans welcome the influx of 100 touring pros (25 are cut after the Barclays) to TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship, which concludes on Labor Day. The 7,207-yard layout, which features numerous natural hazards and immense bunkers, was originally designed by Arnold Palmer and reworked by Hanse and Jim Wagner (with input from Brad Faxon) in 2007.
TPC Boston presents many challenging holes, among them the 542-yard second hole. Although a short par-5, three well-placed shots are required for a chance at birdie. The right side of the green feeds towards the water, placing a premium on accuracy with a wedge approach.
The 298-yard fourth hole is an exciting risk/reward par-4. The narrow green and the massive greenside bunker present challenges for players attempting to drive the green. The best play is to the right front corner of the green; a miss to the right still allows a good opportunity get up and down.
The 530-yard par-5 18th hole creates drama down the stretch. The most difficult green on the course is guarded by an immense hazard in front; players attempting to reach the green in two are looking at bogey if they come up short. The layup is complicated by a pot bunker in the middle of the fairway about 110 yards from the green. While there is trouble on the right, missing left is no picnic here.
New England golf fans would love to see Day, Spieth, and McIlroy in contention on Monday at TPC Boston. McIlroy reassumed the world number one ranking after Spieth missed the cut at the Wyndham. Jordan wants it back. Next to Tom Brady winning his court case, it would make for an exciting Labor Day.