Greensboro First Round Notes

This is really good.

When I was writing about the Dartboard picks for Greensboro, the players that were selected were ranked so low, I made a decision to just note those that were inside the 125 FedEx Cup cut line. There were only four of them…and the 5th guy was ranked all the way down at 160.

But in parting comments about those six lowest ranked players, I allowed, “…this is a group that’s having a very tough time right now, a perfect situation for a dark horse to come out of nowhere.”

Well, every now and then, I’m a genius. The lowest ranked player, Jeff Quinney, ranked 215 in FedEx Cup points and No. 586 in the World Rankings—ta dah!—shot 7-under par Thursday and is tied for the lead.

Now, who knows where he’ll wind up, but going back to Sunday’s post, “Honoring The Possibility of People,” Quinney makes my point in that post in spades, never underestimate the possibility of another human being. If Quinney can hang on, his projected FedEx Cup points would leap from 215 up to 79 and he’d be in the playoffs.

And speaking of people realizing the possibility of themselves, the guy that Quinney is tied with is none other than Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. He’s missed a lot of cuts this year, 12 of 26, but he’s also had a lot of “knocking on the door” finishes: T8, 5, 3, T3, and T7. Gainey was already at 40th in points and would move to 14th; the power of a good finish.

Among other players I highlighted in Thursday’s post who were below the 125 bubble, Ernie Els’ 5-under 65 and T4 rocketed him up the standings from 126 to 109. If he can keep that up he might even be able to get inside of the top 100 for the second playoff tournament in Boston. Shows what’s possible for him when he gets serious.

Paul Casey is also T4 after shooting a 5-under 65 and is projected to move up from 147 to 122, just inside the bubble. He’s going to have to keep that up because he has no room to spare. But he has the talent, so it’s possible. He’s been having a tough time this year due to “turf toe” on his right big toe. He can’t push off his right side, so he’s had to make adjustments in his swing…that haven’t worked out as well as he had hoped.

Alas, Padraig Harrington was unable to help himself so far. Even though his 1-under was just four shots more than Casey’s round, there are so many under-par rounds bunched together on the leaderboard that he’s way back at T67. He went from 130 to 133. But the math works in your favor in this crowded instance when you shoot a good score too. Maybe Friday.

And the same thing happened to Ben Curtis, the 2003 British Open Champion, in shooting just even par and ending up T94. He went from 131 to 136.

A pleasant move the other way was Justin Leonard who pulled himself together and shot a 4-under 66. That left him T14 with 11 other guys and moved him way up from 142 to right on the bubble at 125. If he could move up into the next gaggle of ties, he would feel a whole lot safer.

And finally, even though Angel Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open winner, shot a very nice 3-under 67, he didn’t move the needle much because he’s T26 with 13 other guys. He only moved from 150 to 147. Given his beginning point total and how far down the board he is, he’d have to finish at least 6th by himself to come in from the cold.

The point of all of this is to amplify just how consistently well you have play on the PGA Tour and how much it can play on your mind when you really have to do it. These guys all know about staying in the moment and taking it one shot at a time, but it takes a tremendous amount of experience and trust to do it when your career is on the line.

Friday’s second round will tell us a lot.

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