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Three scenarios that get Tiger Woods into the FedEx Cup Playoffs

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In 2013, Tiger Woods entered the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational leading the FedEx Cup standings. Fifty-two weeks later, he’s 215th!

There are only three events left–and just two for Tiger–before The Playoffs are set and Woods needs to jump 90 spots in that span to qualify.

He currently owns 45 FedEx Cup points, with position No. 125 possessing 403 points. The final Top-125 cutoff will probably come in around 450 points, meaning Woods needs 405 points in the next two events to qualify.

Woods missed the Playoffs in 2011. Here’s the scenarios and odds of avoiding that fate:

Tiger Woods 2013 Bridgestone win

Just Win, Baby

If Woods wins the Bridgestone, he receives 550 points. And it’s 600 for the PGA Championship. Either way, he is no doubt in the Playoffs.

A dream scenario for sure, but highly chimerical when looking at Woods in 2014. There’s little tape to go off of in 2014, as the 38-year-old has put in just 20 full rounds of work.

Despite the limited play, we can see that the golf is largely poor. Yes, injury hindered him early on, but in his two starts since returning from back surgery, Woods flashed one great display of 18 holes and five poor-to-abysmal rounds.

His game is in need of an insane turnaround if he were searching for a win at this week’s opposite field event, let alone a WGC or a major. (And it’s probably not helping that he went on vacation this week.)

So, to be quite frank, the odds of this happening are perilously slim. Yes, Woods’ love affair at Firestone is no doubt strong with eight wins through the Bridgestone. He also previously won a PGA at Valhalla, where the major plays host again in two weeks.

But good vibrations can only go so far, which Woods proved when his struggling game in 2010 produced a rock bottom T78 showing at Firestone.

If you’re counting on Woods to win before the Playoffs, prepare to be disappointed.

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Consecutive Top-Three Finishes (Not Wins)

In regular PGA Tour events, consecutive solo thirds would net 380 points, short of the (admittedly, arbitrary) 405 threshold we have set for Woods.

For the Bridgestone and the PGA though, these same results add up to 410, which is just enough for Woods. And as for other top-three scenarios, a solo second at the Bridgestone and a solo third at the PGA gives 525 points, the opposite 530, and consecutive solo runner-ups 645.

In other words, back-to-back solo top-threes gives Woods a coveted top 125 spot.

Still, while this scenario is more likely than a victory, it’s only marginally so. If Woods’ game needs a miracle cure to be ready to win, counting on top-three level play is unwise too. A win also affords Woods a throw-away tournament, whereas consecutive top-threes means the 38-year-old can’t bungle a single round. And it’s highly advised the top-threes are solo, otherwise it gets dicey when points are divided up equally among tied finishers.

Plenty of pratfalls, but this way is overall slightly easier. The difference between a win and a top-three is sometimes minimal, other times quite significant. And while it’s unlikely Woods wins without fantastic form, his game may just need to be in a pretty good place for consecutive top-threes. Save the 2010 and 2011 nightmares, Woods has never finished outside the top 10 at the Bridgestone and just once outside the top four. And his one showing at Valhalla was a win.

Certainly some positives there, but because of the shattered state of Woods’ game at the moment, this scenario remains a pipe dream.

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A Solo Runner-Up and Another Top-10

We saved Woods’ most likely shot for last, and it’s probably the only scenario that is eminently plausible.

A solo second this week and any solo finish eighth or better at the PGA Championship nets the 405 points the 38-year-old needs. And if that solo runner-up is switched to the PGA, any untied top-10 finish at the Bridgestone breaks the 405 barrier.

Tied finishes are trickier. All you need to know is that finishing solo second is far more important than the other top-10 being untied.

Anyway, this is the most appealing option for a Woods fan. Unlike the consecutive top-threes scenario, Woods may only have to play well at all in one event to complete this task. The top-10 can be as back door as the 38-year-old wants it be, with the FedEx Cup standings omitting style points. As for the event where he must be on form, a solo second requires a high level of play, but not necessarily that close to a winning level in certain events (See: 2014 U.S. Open).

Really if Woods’ game shows any semblance of function throughout this week, he’ll pretty much finish in the top 10, leaving him a week to further progress for a solo second. And if his game is working quite well off the bat, that solo second at the Bridgestone won’t be too tough to attain, and that leaves a top-eight at the PGA.

I wouldn’t bet heavily on any of the three options, but I would keep an eye on this one. We’re still in the realm of “significantly unlikely” here, but this scenario gives him more than an infinitesimal chance of reaching the top 125.

Overall though, the picture looks bleak. Expect a 2014 FedEx Cup run without golf’s leading man.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Ray Guthrie

    Aug 2, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Can he still qualify if he plays in Greensboro

    • Kevin Casey

      Aug 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      So, I’d say at this point he’s not playing in Greensboro. He didn’t in 2011 when he was in this position and, when asked if he would do so this year, he was noncommittal. And that was before the back problems he had at Firestone.

      Nonetheless, let’s say he does decide to play there. To answer your question, he can still qualify if he plays at Greensboro. A win at either the PGA or Greensboro would easily be enough to get him in. If he doesn’t win though, it’s a lot trickier. Since he amassed zero points at Firestone, he still needs 405 points to qualify (if 450 ends up being the cutoff as I suggested). And if he’s playing Greensboro he still has two events left then. But it’s actually more of an uphill climb than before. I gave scenarios based on Tiger teeing it up at Firestone and the PGA. With the PGA and Greensboro, that’s still two events but Greensboro offers less total points than a WGC, so we have to adjust Tiger’s finishes a little higher.

      If Tiger doesn’t win, the consecutive solo top-threes doesn’t necessarily work anymore. Two straight solo thirds leave him short. But a solo second and solo third or two solo seconds will get him to 450 total. Again, I won’t get into tied finishes because points are split equally among all of those tied.

      As for the runner-up and other top-10 scenario, we once again get more restrictive. A solo runner-up at the PGA and any solo finish in the top 10 at Greensboro gets him to 450 total. When Greensboro is the runner-up though, he must finish solo sixth or better at the PGA. So yeah, a daunting task here. Even if Tiger plays at Greensboro, chances are slim for him to make the Playoffs.

  2. Bob

    Jul 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Let me just say that I’m a Tiger fan and I hope he breaks Jack’s record; however I don’t think Tiger will win a tournament in 2014

  3. Bob Jones

    Jul 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Why does anybody still care what Tiger does or doesn’t do? Enough already.

    • Christosterone

      Jul 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      He has won 79 tournaments.
      Woods is a singular talent of his generation and belongs with very few others on golf’s Mount Rushmore.
      That is why people care.

      • Rob

        Jul 30, 2014 at 5:55 pm

        @ Chrisostetone:

        Pretty much nailed it. You could have also added that he brings an excitement factor that no other golfer matches.

        • Rich

          Jul 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm

          Not everyone likes a show off

        • Rich

          Jul 31, 2014 at 2:38 am

          Had to also mention that I saw Rory McIlroy play in the Australian Open last year and he hit driver off the 10th. 380m (416yrds) hole and he had 56m (61yrds) in for his second. If that’s not exciting golf, I’m not sure what is. He out drove Adam Scott by 20-30 yards. It was amazing. Make sure you don’t miss all the other exciting golf going on while your watching Tiger.

          • Dr. Troy

            Jul 31, 2014 at 7:15 am

            Just because we/I/others like Tiger and appreciate the excitement and energy he has always brought to the game, doesn’t mean(speaking for the others) that we don’t enjoy Rors dominate performances…or several other players for that matter….That’s what’s always confused me in these TW posts…The avg Joe Schmo fan might need Tiger or Phil to watch the coverage, but most of us don’t…although it’s preferred…

          • Rich

            Aug 1, 2014 at 4:11 am

            Dr Troy, just a reply to Rob as he said that “he brings an excitement factor that no other golfer matches”. A true golf fan likes all golf no matter who plays. I don’t like tiger but I hate the band wagon even more.

    • bradford

      Jul 31, 2014 at 8:45 am

      Sometimes I sit and watch average golfers from my back porch.
      It’s nice…

      …but honestly, I’d prefer to watch the best player in the history of the game–even if he’s a bit off.

      • Rich

        Aug 1, 2014 at 4:12 am

        That’s good for you then because that’s as good as it’s gonna be from now on.

    • raul

      Jul 31, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Yet you read this which shows that you do, indeed, care about Tiger. Whether you like the excitement he brings or you love to hate him, you still care.

  4. BOBBY D

    Jul 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    win and qualify or go home…eldrick doesn’t belong on the team or in the fed ex…too bad!!!!

    • bradford

      Jul 31, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Agreed, and I think Tiger would also agree–but that’s only based on every interview he’s had about it. He always says he wants to be on it but if he also wants to earn it.

  5. Stu

    Jul 30, 2014 at 8:23 am

    As a European, my biggest fear is that Tiger gets a Captain’s pick and is then played ‘selectively’ in the fourballs where he has a partner to take the pressure off his game. So many US Captains have failed to grasp he performs best when he does not have to worry about others. Play him in the two fourballs and singles, a good shot at 2.5pts from 3.0 Keep picking him for the foursomes and he gets the same points, but from 5 giving Europe a couple of wins.

  6. Hellstorm

    Jul 30, 2014 at 12:45 am

    He will be on the Ryder Cup….thats pretty much locked up. Somebody big is going to get left off the roster but it won’t be Woods.

  7. JJ Man

    Jul 29, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    What scenario gets him into the Ryder Cup – if he has 2 top 20 finishes, do you pick him??

    • Jbun

      Jul 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      How could you not.

      • Captain Obvious

        Jul 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm

        If you had a brain and did not care what the media and talking heads would spew.

    • Brian

      Jul 29, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      I think a win and a top 2 is the only way he gets in. Tom Watson wants to win, and he will pick who he thinks will win the cup for USA. If tiger doesn’t win or show a great improvement from his last 2 starts I think you pick someone else.

      Also, I think tiger needs more regular tourney reps, I think he should take advantage of the wrap around season and take some time to play a few smaller tourneys to get back into the swing of things. It would be good to have a big name in these smaller events and good for tiger to gain some confidence

      • Dan

        Jul 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

        “reps”……… I love it. Tigerspeak.

        I cant wait until Saturday so I can get another “rep” in.

        Hey Dan, what time is your “rep” this weekend? I have a threesome on the Red @ Bethpage, are you in?

        I hope its not another 5+ hour “rep” this weekend.

      • Dr. Troy

        Jul 31, 2014 at 7:17 am

        couldn’t agree more

        • Dr. Troy

          Jul 31, 2014 at 7:17 am

          ***in regards to him playing more that is…

          • Eldrick

            Aug 1, 2014 at 7:55 am

            Can you come to my house and play and I don’t mean golf. I get the feeling you like me some.

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Opinion & Analysis

Canada: Home of the lefty?

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Golf has become a more prominent sport in Canada, and I believe that Mike Weir has a lot to do with that, since his triumph at the Masters only 16 short years ago. I am not saying it is going to replace hockey as our sport of choice as that kind of talk may get me committed.

We have, since that time, significantly grown our presence on not only the PGA Tour but all professional tours. It does make us exceedingly proud to sport one of the premier LPGA players in Brooke Henderson.

Harkening back to Mike Weir, at this time I also feel, shows a more accurate representation of the current state of golf in Canada. If you spend some time looking at the players at our courses, especially those that have taken up the game since his triumph, I think you may be surprised at what you see.

Welcome to Canada – home of the lefty

It seems to be a revelation of sorts here north of the border. One that, I will be honest, I do not belong to the group, but am intrigued as to what triggered it. We, as a country, have one of the highest per capita numbers of both golfers and courses. The state of the business of golf in Canada is a totally different topic.

Did Mike Weir make it acceptable? At a time when everyone wanted to be like Tiger, a short lefty from Canada wins the Masters and it was instantly cool in Canada to play left-handed? As a dedicated club ho walking through the used section of golf shops here does not reveal the multitude of deals for lefties that it previously did.

In Canada, approximately 30 percent of golfers are now left-handed, which is a staggering number anyway that it is looked at. We are not that far removed from a time when just writing with your left hand was seen as a faux pas!

If we look at the other sports played here I think that we can garner a better perspective of how this number came to be.

The national sport of Canada is lacrosse. However, if you asked most people, I would bet they would answer hockey. Nearly two out of every three people who play hockey in Canada play the sport left-handed. Hockey is a game of hand-eye coordination and transfer of power. Stickhandling, catching a pass or shooting all require good hand-eye to make you successful. But the transfer of power into a slap shot, or even a wrist shot for that matter, is where the correlation to the golf swing can begin.

Looking at the similarities, both involve a plant foot, a long backswing, hip rotation, downswing, acceleration and a follow through to generate power and results. Just as in golf, if any of these components aren’t present, the puck will go nowhere and on the ice, and you may just fall down.

More people play hockey than golf in Canada, and if you already play one left-handed it can be a somewhat natural transition to the other, as the basics for the swing are already ingrained in your mind.

Baseball is also another popular sport in Canada. Many of our successful hitting MLB players have been left, handed hitters. I feel that most will admit to the fact the swing was an easy transition over from hockey. They may field and throw right but the mechanics of the swing are easier to replicate by doing it left-handed.

Whatever the reason for this revelation of the left-handed golfer in Canada, I feel that it is a good thing for the sport. Whatever gets more people on the course is a good thing and if playing that way helps them to achieve personal success at the game faster then we can’t ask for anything more.

Who knows what the future of the left-handed golfer in Canada will hold. Just remember, if you are a lefty golfing north of the border, don’t expect to find the deals in clubs that are extended to our our left-handed friends south of the border!

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Podcasts

TG2: Rory wins his “Fifth Major”! Plus, a discussion with a true golf junkie

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Of course we are talking about The Players and Rory’s win! Is The Players close to a 5th major or not? We have GolfWRX member mBiden2 on the show to talk about his golf junkie ways and the gear he is liking for 2019!

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

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Opinion & Analysis

College golf recruiting: The system works

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Yesterday, one of the parents I consult with on college placement asked me what the lessons are from the recent college admissions scandal for her and her son. What are the takeaways?

Michael Young, who coined the phrase in 1956, writes, a meritocracy is “the society in which the gifted, the smart, the energetic, the ambitious and the ruthless are carefully sifted out and helped towards their destined positions of dominance.” For decades higher education has embraced the meritocracy, creating an effective system which it funnels students with amazing precision to school that matches their academic ability, courtesy of indicators like GPA, SAT and class rank. So why would people work to circumvent this system? Ignorance and entitlement; the members of this scandal were driven by having the right brand name to tell their friends at dinner parties, not the welfare of their children.

In my own experience, I have seen families put their kids into months of hardcore standardized prep, while signing up for six to eight sittings of the SAT under the guise of trying to get to a better school, all while balancing practice and tournament golf. The problem is that this does not make you a good parent, it makes you an asshole.

In my own examination of data in the college signing process over the past three years, I have found only three outliers in Division One Men’s Golf at major conference schools. Each of these outliers had a NJGS ranking outside of the top 1000 in their class with scoring differentials above 3.5. They also each had a direct and obvious connection with the school. They leveraged the relationship and had their children admitted and put on the roster. Success! Unfortunately, none of the players appeared on the roster their sophomore year. Why? By the numbers, these players are 6 shots worst than their peers. That’s 24 shots over a four-round qualifier.

Obviously, it needs to be said again; the best junior players (boys and girls) are excellent. Three years of data suggest that players who attend major conference schools have negative scoring differentials close to 2. This means that they average about 2 shots better than the course rating, or in lay terms; have a plus handicap in tournaments. This is outstanding golf and a result of a well thought out and funded plan, executed over several years.

There is no doubt that the best players have passed through top tier programs in recent years, however, they have entered these programs with accolades including negative scoring differentials and successful tournament careers, including a pattern of winning. In order to compete at the professional level, players must meticulously try and mirror these successes in college. The best way to do it? Attend a school where the prospective student-athlete can gain valuable experience playing and building their resume. For a lot of junior golfers, this might not be the most obvious choice. Instead, the process takes some thought and looking at different options. As someone who has visited over 800 campuses and seen the golf facilities, I can say that you will be surprised and impressed with just how good the options are! Happy searching.

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