Sep
9
2012
Who’s in, who’s out of the Tour Championship
By Stephanie Wei under FedEx Cup

Moore played his way into the top 30

Advancing to the Tour Championship from the BMW Championship means more than a mathematical chance at winning the $10 million wheelbarrow at the end of the FedExCup PLAYOFFS. Unless you’re one of the top players in the world (I’d usually say 50, but no guarantees even then), meaning your name is Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods, the average player doesn’t have the luxury of picking and choosing their schedules to their exact liking. When you qualify for the Tour Championship, you’re set up for success in the following season and it takes out a lot of unknown variables.

Again, no big deal if you’ve won a major championship this year and/or you’re already exempt into every WGC and major in 2013, but it’s a massive relief for guys like Ryan Moore and Robert Garrigus, the two who played their way into a trip to East Lake Golf Club.

Moore, who started the week at No. 35 in FEC points, made an eight-footer for birdie on No. 18 to clinch his spot and move to No. 28. When he was told he was a lock to finish in the top 30, the usually indifferent Moore did a double first-pump.

“There’s a lot on the line,” said Moore after posting a two-under 70 in Sunday’s final round at Crooked Stick. “For someone in my position, getting to the Tour Championship, just what it does for you for the next year, getting you in the World Golf Championships, all that kind of stuff.  There’s a little extra pressure always in the back of your mind, and it doesn’t make it any easier.”

Echoed Robert Garrigus, who made a double-bogey on No. 8: “I had to suck it up because I knew I was right on the bubble.  I’m like, you know what, I’ve come too far and too long and worked way too hard to got get to the Tour Championship and play in all the majors next year.  I’ll suck it up on the back side, and it feels good, and I’m pretty happy about that.

“I’ve played in all four majors, I think, once, and now next year I can make a schedule.  This is probably going to bump me up in the World Rankings, get me in the top 50.  Just helps so much.  It’s nice to see all the hard work paying off.”

Garrigus started the week at No. 31, just outside of the bubble. After the unfortunate mishap on the eighth when a fan belched in his backswing, he got fired up and responded with a birdie on No. 9 and then posted four consecutive birdies on the back nine to propel him to a T4 finish. He also moved up to No. 20 in FEC points.

“It’s huge because I’ve felt like I’ve deserved to be there the past few years, and I just haven’t put the work in, I haven’t had the whole year playing golf and not being in shape, and now I’m in shape and I’m there,” said the always-gregarious Garrigus. “I give a lot of credit to what my trainer and I have been doing and my caddie and I have been doing.  It’s been a lot of fun.”

Moore and Garrigus are far from the top 5 in FEC points — Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker — which allows players to “control their own destiny.” While Moore has nothing to lose, he’s not going to throw the bag in and said, “I just barely snuck my way in.  I know those top five guys control their fate, but I’m going to go do what I can to at least make it interesting.”

******

*Unfortunately for Vijay Singh, who held the lead or a share of it the first three rounds, he just missed a trip back to the Tour Championship. You’ve got to hand it to the 49-year-old Fijian who still wins the award for hardest worker in the game.

Tied for the 54-hole lead heading in Sunday, Singh squandered away a win at Crooked Stick, but perhaps just as important, he let finishing in the top 30 in FEC points slide out of his control with bogeys in three of his final five holes. He ended up placing 8th and No. 33 in FEC points. Ouch. There won’t be as many opportunities for Singh to be in contention at marquee tournaments like the BMW Championship or chances to make it back to East Lake, where he won the 2008 FEC.

*Reigning FedExCup champ Bill Haas started the week ranked No. 28 in points, but a final-round 78 shot himself out of the top 30 and he dropped to No. 32. Afterward he said he was more frustrated and disgusted with his play than anything.

Honestly it seems like the same old story, something I’ve been doing a lot this year,” said Haas, who beat Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in a three-way playoff at Riviera in February. “Under the gun haven’t been able to get it done. It’s something I’ve got to address and get better. When there’s some pressure and there’s a pressure situation I’ve got to be able to bear down and shoot a good number and not just blow up. I seem to do it often. It’s frustrating. I don’t know, I’ve got to take it as a building something to build on.

Haas shot scores of 71-64-72-78 at the BMW Championship. His last putt for par meant more than he realized. Had he made it, Haas would be returning to defend his titles — The Tour Championship and the FedEXCup Champion– but he missed to post a bogey.

I didn’t think I was even close,” said Haas. That’s even more frustrating. But with that said, I hit a nice putt. I played left edge, and I thought it would break right. I’m not mad at
the putt, I just didn’t deserve it.”

Bill Haas, unplugged, Ladies and Gentleman!

*Meanwhile, Kyle Stanley, who started the week ranked No. 30, right on the bubble, placed T34 at the BMW, which dropped him back one position in FEC points standings to No. 31, and narrowly missing his first trip to the Tour Championship.

There’s no crying in golf!

*Kudos to Q-school grad John Huh for becoming the only PGA Tour rookie to qualify for the Tour Championships this year. It must have been all those reps and experience he received on that extra year he spent on the Web.com Tour, right? Oh wait, Huh didn’t spend a year in the minors and earned his card via Q-School last December. He won a few months into the 2012 season in Mexico and has been a consistent player throughout his rookie season. No doubt he’ll be tapped for Rookie of the Year honors. As for how he got to the PGA Tour, obviously he’s just an anomaly, as the powers-that-be will tell you. OK, so what? I love Q-school because there’s a chance for an anomaly like John Huh to break through and live his dream. Call me a romantic and an optimist.

*The complete list of FEC points finishers can be found here.

Some friendly FEC reminders:

*A points reset will take place following the BMW Championship giving all 30 players in the field at the TOUR Championship a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup. The top five players control their own destiny and can win the FedExCup with a victory at the TOUR Championship. The top five in the FedExCup standings going into the TOUR Championship include: Rory, Tiger, Phil, Nick and Brandt.

Exemptions for FedExCup champion and Top 30

FedExCup champion earns:

  • 5-year PGA TOUR exemption

Invitation to:

  • Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, British Open
  • THE PLAYERS Championship
  • World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship
  • Hyundai Tournament of Champions
  • World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
  • Other invitationals: Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, RBC Heritage, Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, AT&T National

Top 30 in final FedExCup standings earn:

  • 1-year PGA TOUR exemption

Invitation to:

  • Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, British Open
  • THE PLAYERS Championship
  • World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard
  • Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
  • The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide
  • AT&T National
  • CIMB Asia Pacific Classic
  • World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions (top five available only)

And that is why qualifying for the Tour Championship is more than just playing for a wheelbarrow of cash — it’s playing for at least two or three.

 (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)