The Beat Goes On

In Greensboro, that is.

Some of the drama is over. There were guys trying to win the tournament and there were guys fighting for their chances to get into the FedEx Cup playoff tournaments that begin next week with the Barclays in New Jersey.

Well, the issue of winning the tournament still has two days to play itself out, but some of the drama over the playoffs has been resolved. Since we began with that story line yesterday, let’s begin there today.

Dean Wilson (128) had to withdraw after thirteen holes. He was 5-over and cited a wrist injury. He’s out of the playoffs.

Ben Curtis (131) missed the cut at 1-under, so he’s out of the tournament and, falling to 136, out of the playoffs.

Angel Cabrera (150) toppled over. He missed the cut by one; out of the tournament, out of the playoffs. What have you done for me lately? With that free, powerful swing to watch, it’s a shame for him and for us.

Padraig Harrington (130) made the cut on the number at 3-under. But that dropped him to 133 in points. So while he will make a check this week, it will take two spectacular rounds—given how well so many others are playing—to get inside that 125 point cutoff. Interestingly, he has just decided to leave his long-time coach he won three majors with and begin working with Europe’s leading coaching light, Pete Cowen. Cowen has put together quite a stable of European champions including Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Lee Westwood to name a few. Looking back on my post, “Can We All Be Wrong?” it will be very interesting to see how Harrington’s inquisitiveness  and thirst for detail will mesh with the ruddy Cowen.

Justin Leonard (142) is having a great tournament. He shot 66, 67, 7-under to wind up T10. He moved up dramatically to a projected 127, so he has to have a couple more good rounds to get inside of 125. He’s just right there. How can Justin Leonard not be in the playoffs?

Paul Casey (147) helped himself immensely by shooting 8-under and getting to T6. That puts him inside the number at 123, but he has little margin for error these last two days. 

And Ernie Els (126) had a similar experience. He is 9-under, T2 and playing with a resolve that seemed to have been missing all these many months. That projects him at 88 now. If he can keep that going, that puts him inside the 125 line and the 100 line for Boston.

Friday I wrote about Jeff Quinney’s remarkable 7-under that led the tournament and plucked him out of the bottom of the basement of the Dartboard picks. He shot even par on the day, so he didn’t move. He’s so far back, it’s unlikely that he can make the playoffs; he would have to finish 2nd. On the plus side, he only finished even par because of a triple bogey on 11 that wiped out his three birdies, one of which he made after the triple. So he’s still playing well, he just needs to gather himself.

Right now, the golden boy continues to be Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. As I said yesterday, 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. Padding his lead with a 5-under, 65, he now stands at 12-under and has a 3-shot lead.

With a swing only a mother could love—but actually repeats, is quite effective and he trusts it—he seems to have an aura of confidence about him. In his post-round, stand-up interview on the Golf Channel, he complained about not hitting it very well. But he claimed his short game was very good and allowed him to go low.

Let’s just hope that the complaint serves as an incentive and doesn’t begin a downward spiral to prove himself right. He’s a really good guy and it would be great for the game if he can nail down his first win.

And then we have the 4-player logjam at 9-under: Webb Simpson, Stuart Appleby, Daniel Summerhays and Ernie Els. Summerhays is the odd man out here. In his rookie year on the Tour, he has missed 17 of 24 cuts and made only $236,000. But if he can hang on here in 2nd, he can actually get into the playoffs; he’s the man on the 125 bubble now. What a great redemptive story this would be.

There are another four players bunched at 8-under and T6 including Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, (The Quiet Man) Retief Goosen and my favorite Brazilian, Alexandre Rocha. A clean-card 4 birdies for him today. He could make the playoffs with a 2nd, but what he really needs is a good check to prove to himself  that he belongs. Because he’s only been able to get into 17 events and missed 9 of those cuts, it’s been a tough year. His best finish is a T33 in Hartford.

There are 9 guys at T10 and 5 back of Gainey, and an unbelievable 16 guys at T19 and 6 back.

There were 4 guys that shot best-round 6-under 64s Friday and an incredible 13 who shot 5-under 65s.

So if Gainey falters at all, he will be run over by the “Thundering Herd” that is a PGA Tour field in full flight, fully expressing themselves as consummate players of the game…and the really good ones know it in their very being.

On the other hand, delightfully, Gainey seems on the verge of becoming a true believer himself.

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