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The Barclays

Tournament Preview

All you need to know about how picturesque the Liberty National Golf Club, site of this week's Barclays, the first installment of the PGA's year-end playoffs, is that the 18th green is less than 2,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty.

Talk about a big fan.

Co-designed by former US Open champion Tom Kite, the course got a bad rap when it opened in 2006 because it was on a former toxic landfill and apparently still kept some of the smell and a lack of amenities.

Determined to keep Liberty National in the rotation for the Barclays, Kite and partner Robert Cupp, got to work - altering 13 fairways and 11 greens. The work seems to have paid off, as the course has received plenty of compliments during its practice rounds this week, including from Tiger Woods, who told USA Today, "They made some really nice improvements."

Masters champion Adam Scott added, "The course is in perfect shape. They can get (the greens) as fast or as slow as they want."

The Manhattan skyline obviously helps the course's appeal, as does the $8 million purse, of which $1.44 million goes to the winner, and the 2,500 FedExCup points.

With 3,059 points, Woods has double the total of any other player in the Top 125 other than Matt Kuchar (2,293), Brandt Snedeker (2,218) and Phil Mickelson (2,166), but the playoffs can change those standings up in a hurry.

The top 125 players in the Cup Standings are on hand this week, with the Top 70 finishers awarded points to see who makes the cut for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, which will feature 100 players.

Since it became part of the FedExCup in 2007, no man has won the Barclays more than once. The last time it was played at Liberty National, the US' Heath Slocum grabbed the crown by shooting 9-under.

The defending Barclays champion is Nick Watney, who fired a 10-under at Long Island's Bethpage State Park Black Course.

 08/22/13, Thursday


At No. 87 in the latest FedExCup Standings, Kevin Stadler wouldn't seem to have that much of a chance in doing any real damage in the PGA Tour's post-season playoffs that kicked off Thursday in New Jersey.

But with the point totals quintupling from here on out, anything is possible.

Stadler took a one-stroke lead into the second round with a 7-under 64 at Liberty National on Thursday, a day that saw most golfers unable to finish their opening salvos as bad weather devoured most of the daylight.

Like a lot of other players atop the leaderboard, Stadler was hot before the rain delay and just marginal after it. He birdied seven of the first 13 holes, including five of the first eight, then was just even par down the stretch.

The 33-year-old USC graduate had three top 10 finishes this year, including a win at the Reno-Tahoe Open in early August.

Stadler has a one-stroke lead over a trio of players - American Ryan Palmer, Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Colombia's Camilo Villegas.

Stenson continues to play simply dazzling golf. Ranked No. 5 in the world, the 37-year-old Swede has finished in the Top 3 of his last three events - the British Open, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship.

The 31-year-old Villegas barely made the cut for the playoffs, finishing 110th of 125 players, but he knows this sort of pressure well, having won twice in the post-season in 2008.

Australia's Jason Day and America's Matt Kuchar are tied for fifth at 5-under, followed by a big group of seven men, including Tiger Woods, at 4-under.

Woods fired four birdies, including three straight between No. 14 and 16. Masters champion JustinRose is one of 12 players tied for 14th at 3-under.
 
 
08/23/13, Friday

You can't blame Matt Kuchar for not wanting the sun to go down in Jersey City on Friday evening.

Few men want to see the last light disappear when they're dominating the biggest tournament of the year.

Kuchar followed up his 5-under 66 on Thursday by going 5-under through the first 13 holes on Friday to take a one-stroke lead at the Barclays at Liberty National.

He'll have to finish those last five holes Saturday before his third round begins, but for the moment, his 10-under has him a stroke ahead of fellow Americans Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland, each of whom has finished two rounds.

After parring each of the first five holes, Kuchar birdied 6, 8, 9, 10 and 13 on Friday to charge to the front of the leaderboard. He had just hit his tee shot on No. 14 when the horn sounded that play was suspended - the second straight day that heavy rains have interrupted the action.

The 29-year-old Woodland would have had a share of the lead if he hadn't bogeyed NO. 18 after racking up eight birdies between No. 5 and No. 16.

Lurking three strokes off the pace at 7-under are four players, including Masters champion Adam Scott and US Open winner Justin Rose.

Like Kuchar, Rose has work to do to finish his second round come Saturday, the UK native is 4-under through 14 for round two.

A further seven players are tied for eighth at 6-under, including Henrik Stenson, followed by nine more at 5-under that includes Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was a glittering 5-under on the day through 16, while Woods was just 1-under through 13, hamstrung by a trio of bogeys between No. 7 and No. 11.

The field will be sliced to 70 when all players have finished their second rounds, with the projected cut set at even par, which would leave luminaries including Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Ernie Els on the outside looking in.

British Open champion Phil Mickelson and PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner are both tied for 42nd at 2-under. Dufner is 2-under through 16 in his second round, while Mickelson was able to finish his round.

08/24/13, Saturday

Matt Kuchar was expected to be in contention at the first PGA playoff tournament of 2013, considering he finished second in the regular-season points race.

Gary Woodland and Kevin Chappell? Not so much.

But proving that their regular-season play means absolutely nothing once the post-season begins, Woodland will head to Sunday's final round of the Barclays tied with Kuchar for the lead with Chappell just one shot back following a course-record 9-under 62 on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Chappell, who finished 58th in regular-season points, knocked in nine birdies, including six on the front nine to drop to 11-under, one stroke behind Kuchar and Woodland, who started the day ranked first and second.

Kuchar shot a 1-under 70, overcoming two bogeys on the front nine while Woodland was 3-under despite three bogeys on the back nine.

Sitting in fourth place, just four strokes off the lead, is Tiger Woods who recorded his second straight 69 on Saturday. Woods was 2-over for the day through seven holes, but finished with a flourish, including a birdie on 18. David Lynn also sits at 8-under.

Seven players are tied for sixth at 7-under including 20-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth, PGA Championship runner-up Jim Furyk and US Open champion Justin Rose.

Former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy is 6-under and tied for 13th, as is Masters champion Adam Scott.

The rain held off to allow the completion of the rounds.
 
08/25/13, Sunday

Masters champion Adam Scott had a solid 5-under round of 66 from his spot in the middle of the Top 10 in Sunday's final round of the Barclays at Liberty National in New Jersey, the kind of round he figured would give him plenty of points to make a good push in the FedExCup Playoffs.

Instead, he wound up winning the whole dang tournament.

Finishing his round 1-1/2 hours ahead of the final group, Scott and a stunned audience at the Barclays watched as US Open champion Justin Rose, Day Three co-leader Gary Woodland and the incomparable Tiger Woods all fell short of forcing a playoff on the final hole, giving the victory to Scott who finished 11-under with a 69-66-72-66 - 273.

Woods, Rose, Woodland and Canada's Graham Delaet all finished tied for second at 10-under.

Scott was the co-leader in the clubhouse at the end of his last round, and earned $1.44 million and 2,500 FedExCup points for the win.

Rose looked the most likely to force a playoff, but he missed a six-foot par putt on No. 18, his only bogey of the afternoon, Woods' 25-foot birdie putt to force the extra hole came up about two inches short, and Woodland's birdie putt from 10 feet hooked left at the last minute.

And thus, Scott, who shot a 1-over 72 to seemingly fall out of the competition on Saturday, finagled the tournament thanks to a round featuring five birdies and no bogeys. After staggering out of the turn in Round 3 on Saturday with a double bogey on No. 10 and a single on No. 12, Scott played the final 24 holes of the tournament at 8-under.

Woods was 3-under at the turn, but back pain reared up and he bogeyed three holes between 10 and 15 before rallying with birdies on 16 and 17. Woods shot a 1-under 69 for the day.

Delaet and Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for sixth two strokes off the lead, had the best final rounds in the Top 10, with each man shooting a 65. A bogey on No. 7 ultimately kept Delaet out of a tie for the lead, while Mickelson also struggled with a bogey on No. 18 after knocking down seven birdies between No. 6 and No. 15 to make a late push.

It was a true testament to the cream rising to the top as three of this year's four Major winners finished within the top three scores of the tournament.

Only PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner looked halfway mortal on the weekend, finishing tied for 37th at 2-under.

Mickelson tied for sixth at 9-under with D.A. Points and PGA runner-up Jim Furyk.
The American quartet of Jason Kokrak, Matt Every, Nick Watney and Rickie Fowler rounded out the Top 10 with matching 8-unders.

Lost in the shuffle of strong final day rounds were Kevin Chappell, who fell off from his course-record 62 on Saturday to limp down the stretch with a 5-over 76 on Sunday.

Chappell was actually at 13-under after the 10th hole, then went into a major meltdown with three bogeys and two double bogeys between holes 11 and 17.

Also suffering a miserable close was Day 3 co-leader Matt Kuchar, who did not shoot a single hole under par until No. 18, finishing with a 7-over 78 to drop into a tie for 19th.
The lowlight for Kuchar was a triple bogey seven on the par-4 No. 9.
 
Tournament Recap

The two things that needed to happen for someone to make a sizable dent in Tiger Woods' FedExCup Playoff points lead happened on Sunday at the Barclays in New Jersey.

A player already high up in the rankings won the tournament, and while Woods didn't perform poorly by any stretch of the imagination, he ended up tied with several other players - a logjam that diffused his point total.

Adam Scott's victory earned him 2,500 points in the latest standings, and while Woods finished just one stroke back, he was tied for second place with three other players, meaning he "only" earned 900 points instead of 1,440 if he had been the sole runner-up.

As a result, Scott, who started the tournament in 11th place in the overall stands, and 1,712 points behind Woods, will wake up Monday in second place, just 162 points off the lead.

Woods has 4,009 points through 13 events; Scott has 3,847 through the same number of tournaments.

To give proper perspective on how dramatic the points differ from a post-season event to a regular event in the PGA playoffs, consider that out of the Top 100 players, just one stayed in the same position he was when the tournament began.

That player is Hunter Mahan, who both began and ended the tournament at No. 21.

The rest of the field which will move onto Boston's TPC for the Deutsche Bank Championship beginning August 30 was a jumbled array of the clear picture that formed over the past nine months.

The biggest moves came from Canada's Graham DeLaet and the US' Gary Woodland, both of whom finished tied for second on Sunday.

DeLaet, who has zero wins but eight top 10 finishes this season, rose from 34th to seventh in the standings; while Woodland, who has one win on the year soared from 60th to 10th.

Other than Scott, no player is within 1,000 points of Woods, with the new top 5 also including No. 3 Phil Mickelson (up from No. 4); No. 4 Matt Kuchar (down from No. 2) and No. 5 Justin Rose (up from No. 7).

The top 125 players qualified for the PGA playoffs at the end of the regular season. Of those, the Top 100 move on to Boston.

Lucky No. 100 this week is Camilo Villegas, who rose 10 spots from No. 110. Falling out of the Top 100 this week, and thus eliminated from the competition, are James Driscoll, Geoff Oglivy, Ted Potter Jr. and J.J. Henry.

Rounding out the Top 10 are No. 6 Brandt Snedeker (down from No. 3), DeLaet, No. 8 Bill Haas (down from No. 5), No. 9 Jordan Spieth (down from No. 8) and Woodland.

Dropping out of the Top 10 are new No. 11 Keegan Bradley, No. 13 Henrik Stenson of Sweden and No. 17 Billy Horschel.

PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, the only one of the four Major winners this year not to finish in the Top 10 at the Barclays, fell from 15th to 19th.

At the conclusion of next week's Deutsche Bank Championship, a futher 30 players will be eliminated from the field.
 

 

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