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Ryder Redux

The FedEx Cup Playoffs Kicked Off With a Wild Finish at the Barclays, but The Subplot Was the Story

A 72-Hole Marathon at Bandon Dunes • G6

There were so many tournaments within a tournament at last week's Barclays it was, at times, tough to keep track of who was playing for what. Like all the other bubble boys, Tiger Woods arrived with only one short-term goal: survive and advance. A field of 120 teed it up at Ridgewood Country Club, in Paramus, N.J., but only 100 would move on to the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, this week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Woods, 112th on the points list at the start of the week, remained golf's biggest question mark until a stellar Sunday 67 shot him to a tie for 12th and up to 65th in points. But the machinations among the FedEx Cup bottom-feeders were the least interesting part of the Barclays.

With a Saturday 64, Dustin Johnson put himself in position for a victory that would redeem his lost summer and propel him into the thick of the player of the year race. Steve Stricker put on a Sunday charge that had him on the precipice of a Tour-best third victory, which would have made him the POY favorite. And if Stricker or Johnson had won, either would have been in the cat bird's seat in the FedEx points race. Both ultimately fell short, as Matt Kuchar beat Martin Laird with a spectacular birdie on the first playoff hole after Laird suffered a ghastly three-putt from 23 feet on the 72nd green. Kuchar's first victory of the year, after 10 top 10 finishes, propelled him to No. 1 on the FedEx points list and suddenly put him in the conversation for player of the year. But none of this was as interesting as the Ryder Cup drama that ultimately defined the week.

A dozen players—including Woods—were auditioning for a captain's pick for their respective team. The Europeans were particularly under the gun as captain Colin Montgomerie was to reveal his three picks following the conclusion of the Johnnie Walker Championship in Scotland; the announcement was due around 1 p.m. EDT, an hour before the final group was to tee off at the Barclays. (U.S. captain Corey Pavin will divulge his choices on Sept. 7, the day after the Deutsche Bank.)

Who's No. 1?

Can't decide on a player of the year? Think Tiger Woods (right) no longer deserves to top the World Ranking? Here's how the players would stack up if the ranking was based solely on play in 2010, not the two-year period over which it is calculated.

, this is great prep for the Ryder Cup. I'm in a match-play situation, I've got a playoff and I've got people going crazy. Playing a European, people cheering out 'U-S-A.' I'll be able to put that in the memory bank and go with it come Ryder Cup time."

It's nice that Kuchar has the FedEx to tune up for a more important Cup. For Casey and Rose, points are the only thing left to play for.

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"I'm right there," Woods said after finishing 12th. We'll see if captain Pavin is similarly impressed.

Sports Illustrated



Photograph by CARLOS M. SAAVEDRA

ALL-AMERICAN Matt Kuchar, who had done everything but win in 2010, made a Ryder Cup statement with a 66 on Sunday, a birdie on the first playoff hole and his third Tour victory.



SUNDAY STRUGGLE Johnson surged into contention with a 64 on Saturday, but a balky putter led to another heartbreaking (tie for ninth) finish.