By Sam McPherson
If the purpose of the FedExCup playoffs on the PGA Tour is to generate excitement, The Barclays at Bethpage Black did not disappoint this weekend as Patrick Reed held off a bushel of challengers to claim the first playoff event of the 2015-2016 season by shooting 9-under par for the tournament. Despite shooting just 71-70 on Saturday and Sunday, Reed beat Sean O’Hair and Emiliano Grillo by a stroke each, while Jason Day and Adam Scott finished two shots back of the winner in a tie for fourth place.
Reed opened with 66-68 on Thursday and Friday, and it was enough to get him the victory and the $1.53 million winner’s purse for the event. Better yet, the effort thrust Reed to the top of the FedExCup standings with three events left to play this season. Day, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, is 380 points behind Reed as the best on Tour chase the elusive championship that Jordan Spieth won last season. This was Reed’s first win of the season, although he also has finished in the Top 10 a total of 10 times this season as well. It is the fourth straight season that the 26-year-old American from Texas has won a PGA Tour event.
O’Hair closed with a 66 on Sunday to move his way up the leaderboard, while moving up a whopping 93 spots in the FedExCup standings and ensuring his place in next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Massachusetts. Grillo himself jumped 26 spots in the standings. Despite finishing fourth, Scott actually dropped from third to fourth in the FedExCup standings.
Another big mover at The Barclays was South Korea’s Sung-hoon Kang: He shot 64 on Sunday to finish tied for 18th. In the process, Kang moved up 34 spots in the FedExCup standings. He was 122nd on the points list before the event, but Kang now sits 88th and will play next week at TPC Boston.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the ball, there were some golfers that played poorly enough at Bethpage to lose their spot in the Top 100 and find themselves eliminated from the playoffs. One such casualty was Peter Malnati, who entered the event ranked No. 93 in the FedExCup standings. Despite making the cut at The Barclays, however, Malnati finished last at 10 over and dropped to 104th on the points list. Similar fates befell Robert Streb and 2009 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover—both of whom tied for 70th, dropped out of the Top 100 and won’t play in the Deutsche Bank event this week.
Next On The Tee: Deutsche Bank Championship
As noted, the Top 100 advance to the next playoff event, and there still will be a 36-hole cut: Only the top 70 players plus ties will advance after Saturday’s second round at the TPC Boston course in Norton. Rickie Fowler, who tied for seventh at The Barclays, won the Deutsche Bank event last season along with $1.485 million. This year, the winner will earn $1.53 million and all but guarantee advancement to the next round of the playoffs at the BMW Championships on September 8-11 at Crooked Stick.
There are nine players within 2,000 points of Reed right now in the FedExCup standings, including Day, Spieth, Scott, Dustin Johnson and even Phil Mickelson. The veteran lefty is 10th in points right now after finishing 13th at The Barclays. The winner of each FedExCup playoff event gets 2,000 points in the standings, so Reed still has his work cut out for him if he wants to win the overall Cup trophy. Until the playoff field is narrowed down to the Top 30 for the final event in two weeks, it’s really anyone’s championship to claim.
Arnold Palmer originally designed the TPC Boston course in 2003, although eight-time PGA Tour winner Brad Faxon had a hand in a subsequent re-design. The circuit is the annual host for the Deutsche Bank Championship, and unlike most PGA Tour events, this tournament runs Friday to Monday, ending on the Labor Day holiday. Scott won the first Deutsche Bank event in 2003, and recent winners include Rory McIlroy (2012) and Henrik Stenson (2013).
The TPC Boston course plays 7,216 yards long and is a par 71.
Favorites: Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth
Players to Watch: Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.