One of the things that makes professional and college sports so exciting is the exponential spike in intensity that games carry at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Be it a meaningful 162nd game of the baseball season, Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl or the BCS Championship, a heightened level of drama shrouds the spectacle.

It is a special sort of dark comedy to have the week of the year that will be the most stressful and, indeed, the most heartbreaking for some take place at Disney World. But such is golf, as we often hear. With 125, as always, being the magic number at or under which on the Money List Tour membership will be guaranteed for next year, some now on the wrong side will find themselves triumphant and others will tumble in the wrong direction, an unpleasant trip to Q-School ahead.

Here are three “insiders” and three “outsiders” to watch this week.

No. 116: David Mathis

Mathis has had a very inconsistent year in 2012, making the cut in only 12 of 28 events played to this point. The North Carolina native does have two top-10 finishes, but only barely—ties for 10th place at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the McGladrey Classic two weeks ago. He has held at least a share of the lead through the first round twice this year, but both times has finished outside the top 50 in the event, making less than $12,000 in either start.

No. 121: Boo Weekley

Few players have ever exhibited as incredible a disparity between ball-striking and putting as has Weekley throughout his career, with 2012 being especially stark in that regard. First in Total Driving and fourth in Greens in Regulation on Tour this year, Weekley is a futile 189th in Strokes Gained – Putting, or second-to-last. Usually bad putting will sully the rest of one’s game, but Weekley’s resistance of this trend is a testament to his positive attitude. A call to putting guru Dave Stockton might help, though.

No. 125: Billy Mayfair

Mayfair, now 46 years old, has not won on Tour since 1998. A rough 2010 year in which he finished 142nd on the Money List caused him to have to return to Q School, but he was the medalist and had a solid 2011 year to retain his card. Despite his recent success there, the 1987 U.S. Amateur champ would rather not have to return to Q School’s final playing in its current form.

No. 134: Tim Petrovic

Petrovic had a chance to lock up his 2013 Tour card a few weeks ago at the Open, but fell a shot short of a chance to play off against Jonas Blixt to ensure Tour membership for two years. Petro has had limited PGA Tour status this year, only playing in 16 events so far. Unfortunately he has not made the most of those limited opportunities, with only seven made cuts and only one top-20 finish besides his recent runner-up effort in California. His 2013 Tour card is within reach with a solid showing this week.

No. 136: Tim Herron

Herron has made only 15 cuts in 26 events this year, with only a single top-10 finish, at Las Vegas in October. He will play Thursday in the same group as fellow Minnesotan and baseball star Joe Mauer, so hopefully Lumpy will feel good enough vibes to play well enough to avoid Q School himself. His putter has let him down at times this year, as he ranks 140th in Strokes Gaine – Putting. 

No. 137: Jerry Kelly

A teammate of Tim Petrovic’s at the University of Hartford, Jerry Kelly has put together a solid if unspectacular PGA Tour career, with three wins and over $23 million in career earnings. Nonetheless, he needs to play well this week if he’s going to avoid going to Q School for the first time since joining the PGA Tour in 1996.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.


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