NORTON, Mass. (AP/CBS) — Stuart Appleby knows how one week can change everything during the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Geoff Ogilvy can only hope he’s next.
Ogilvy was the 100th and final player to get into the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four playoff events. He’s a long shot to get to the next tournament, and the odds are even longer for him to reach the Tour Championship in Atlanta for a shot at the $10 million. But at least he’s playing.
“I can still win the FedEx Cup sitting here right now,” Ogilvy said Thursday. “I’m sure I’m the longest shot there is in the field — statistically — but everyone still can. You’ve just got get to that last one. So I’m still in it.”
Appleby had not come close to winning all year. He had two top 10s, but never started the final round closer than five shots at any tournament. He was No. 98 when the FedEx Cup playoffs began last week at The Barclays. He opened with a 73 and was outside the cut line, one round away from the end of his season.
He strung together three good rounds, closed with a 65 to tie for second and look him at now. Because the points are worth five times the value as the regular season, Appleby vaulted 79 spots to No. 19. If he can stay in the top 30 the next two weeks — and the odds are in his favor — he will be at East Lake for the Tour Championship and get into all four majors for the first time in five years.
“If I could play well whenever I wanted, last week would have been good timing,” Appleby said. “And last week, that’s how it panned out. It’s certainly given me a large spike in ranking, and it’s given me much more of a dream to get back to Atlanta to play the Tour Championship, which enables a lot more golf events to select from. And that’s been a plan of mine — to get back into the cool crowd.
“I still have a bit of work to do yet.”
That’s what these playoffs are all about. Golf typically has only one winner each week. The FedEx Cup can make the losers feel like winners.
The Deutsche Bank Championship begins Friday and ends on Labor Day, with the top 70 advancing to the third playoff event next week in Denver. This the shortest field ever with only 93 players. Four players are taking the week off for various reasons, two are injured (Jason Dufner and Tim Clark) and Dustin Johnson is on “voluntary leave.”
Except for having his name called for random drug testing on Thursday, Ogilvy was simply happy to be at the TPC Boston.
He started the playoffs at No. 90 and missed the cut at The Barclays. Ogilvy figured his season was over when he flew home to Arizona, except that when he woke up Saturday morning, he saw his name bouncing from No. 98 to No. 103 in the projected standings.
And then, everything fell his way. Troy Merritt missed a 10-foot par putt on the final hole Sunday to fall into a tie for 47th at 2-under 282. Jerry Kelly looked like he might finish at 282 (that would have given Merritt a few more points), except that he got up-and-down for par on the last hole. Brendon Todd was at 2 under and headed for a bogey that would have helped Merritt, only to make a 15-foot par putt.
All that allowed activity allowed Ogilvy to end the week at No. 100, and he was still in the game.
“You can’t get to Atlanta without getting here,” he said. “If I can have a really good week, and move the right direction in the points, you never know what might happen.”
Hunter Mahan is coming off a win at The Barclays that moved him from No. 62 to No. 1 in the standings, and might have made it impossible for Tom Watson to ignore him when he selects his three picks for the Ryder Cup on Tuesday.
Rory McIlroy, who won two majors and a World Golf Championship in the last two months, is No. 1 in the world and No. 2 in the FedEx Cup. He’s used to that. Two years ago, McIlroy won a major and two FedEx Cup playoff events and still didn’t win the $10 million prize.
That can be the maddening part of the FedEx Cup playoffs. But that was the whole idea. This is a free-for-all at the end of the year, weighted toward the best and offering hope to those hanging on a thread — Appleby last week, Ogilvy now.
“If you want these tournaments to be bigger than just the normal tour event, it has to carry some sort of weight like that,” Ogilvy said. “If you ask the guy wins the FedEx Cup at the end of the year would he rather have that year or Rory’s, I’m sure he would say he’d rather have Rory’s. You take two majors over winning the FedEx Cup. You take one major over winning the FedEx Cup.”
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