A slew of world-class players shot their way to the top of the leaderboard at The Barclays, the opening leg of the FeEx Cup playoffs, only to succumb to the intensity that comes with playing for a chance at $1.4 million in prize money.
At the end of what had been a relatively humdrum three days of golf, Adam Scott didn’t so much win the tournament as Justin Rose, Gary Woodland and Tiger Woods lost it. Both Rose and Woodland missed five-footers that would have sent them into a tie with Scott, who had shot a brilliant 66 to take the lead. Scott moved up from 11th to second place in the standings.
Woods, fighting off back spasms that sent him to his knees at one point, missed a birdie putt on 18 that would have capped off yet another one of his remarkable comebacks.
Liberty National’s fast greens were matched only by the world-class field that played them with all the drama, intensity and carnage that usually is reserved for a major. At one point on the final day, six of the top 10 players had won majors, and all were playing like one was on the line.
One hundred and twenty-five Tour pros came to New Jersey, and only 100 will make it to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the next FedEx Cup event.
And while Scott won the title, Camilo Villegas may have been the big winner of the day by ending as the 100th player in the FedEx rankings with a chance to play another day.
Here is a look at the winners and losers at The Barclays after a very exciting finish.
A number of players at The Barclays took the opportunity to make a big move upward in the standings.
For some, like Rickie Fowler, it was long overdue. For others, it was a huge surprise.
Here are some of the bigger movers up the ladder going into the next event, the Deutsche Bank Championship:
- Greg Chalmers: From 122nd to 93rd
- Jason Kokrak: From 95th to 55th
- D.A. Points: From 25th to 15th
- David Lynn: From 54th to 42nd
- Rickie Fowler: From 42nd to 23rd
- Matt Every: From 88th to 46th
- Daniel Summerhays: From 75th to 52nd
- Rory Sabbatini: From 85th to 56th
Some players took a significant step back, including a couple of big-time majors winners:
- Graeme McDowell: From 28th to 44th
- Ernie Els: From 82nd to 91st
- Charley Hoffman: From 48th to 65th
- Ken Duke: From 32nd to 48th
- Martin Laird: From 44th to 63rd
DeLaet surged into second place on Sunday, eventually moving up from 34th to the seventh position in the FedEx Cup standings.
In case you are wondering, the young Canadian hasn’t had much of a season, missing the cut in his last two events.
But somehow he ranks first on the Tour in greens in regulation, and he took advantage of that skill by shooting a 65 on the last day, placing him at 10-under for the tournament and tied for second place.
Johnson won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions way back in January and has had an inconsequential season since. A few top-10 finishes have been offset by with three missed cuts and two withdrawals.
He missed the cut again at The Barclays and slid down the standings from 16th to 22nd.
Is it just us, or is Phil Mickelson the most exciting player on the Tour?
Going into Sunday, Mickelson had played just fine. At three-under, he was eight strokes behind the leaders and seemingly well out of it.
Then his early-morning round began, and his game reached another level. He proceeded to birdie the heck out of the course and rise up the ranks.
Could it be? Could he surge to the top as he did at the British Open when he shot 66 on the last day to win?
His brilliant 65 placed him just two strokes off the lead, and the fourth-ranked Mickelson gave everyone a lot to think about going into the next event.
Baddeley was cruising down the back stretch looking to finish around 75th in the standings and make his way to the next event.
Then lightening struck in the form of three straight bogeys, sending him to a score of 77 and the disappointing position of 101st in the standings.
It was the toughest of ways to go down for the man from down under.
Woodland is the perfect example of what the FedEx Cup playoffs can mean to a player who plays well. And Woodland played very, very well.
He had a chance to win The Barclays up until the very last hole, as he moved up 60 places in the standings to 10th place.
Woodland is known as one of the longest drivers on the Tour (ranked third), but is not always the straightest (ranked 162nd in driving accuracy).
This week, he put it all together. He even shared the lead at one point.
Woodland won the Reno-Tahoe Open just two weeks ago and came very close to winning yet again.
The third-ranked Snedeker never got on track, missed the cut and dropped to the sixth spot in Cup standings.
That may not sound so bad for Snedeker, who won the FedEx Cup last year, but this was a less-than-fortuitous way to start the playoffs.
Snedeker, who won the Canadian Open at the end of July, has not had a respite since and sure looked like he could use one.
On the plus side, by missing the cut, he gets a few days to regroup for the next tournament and a shot at a repeat.
At one point, six of the top 10 players on the leaderboard were majors winners.
Among them was Justin Rose, who won his first major at the U.S. Open earlier this year. Rose made a valiant move up the leaderboard and was within one stroke of tying Adam Scott and going into a playoff.
Instead, he missed a five-footer for a three-putt that placed him in a tie for second place. It was a tough way to end a brilliant day of golf.
We previously saw Jim Furyk in the last group at the PGA Championship, where he finished second. In typical Furyk fashion, he played The Barclays methodically and conservatively, moving into a tie for sixth and going from 23rd to 14th place in the standings.
Bubba Watson has had a very quiet year with no wins and only three top-10 finishes, so it is somewhat of a surprise that he finished so well. Even though he went three over in his last four holes and was ranked 38th, Watson played some of his best golf to date and moved 11 places up the standings to 27th place. Overall, he finished seven under par and tied for 13th place.
Rory McIlroy played his most solid tournament in a while despite not making it to the top end of the leaderboard. He finished in a tie for 19th place and moved up 13 places to the 36th spot in the standings.
Stenson came into The Barclays as one of the hottest players on the Tour.
He began the event in the same fashion, then carded three rounds over par, sending him into a tie for 43rd place.
In his last three events, Stenson finished in third place at the PGA Championship, tied for second at the Bridgestone Invitational and alone in second at the British Open. Stenson’s exceptional season stats include rankings of second in GIR, fourth in scoring average and sixth in driving percentage.
It will be no surprise if he performs well at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
In yet another display of guts and desire, Tiger Woods came within an inch of tying Adam Scott and sending The Barclays into a playoff.
That was how close his birdie putt on the 18th hole came. It would have been his third birdie in a row and capped off a remarkable round in which Tiger had to overcome yet another injury.
On the 13th hole, seemingly playing smoothly at two-under and threatening the leaders, Tiger fell to his knees in pain after his second shot. He gathered himself, knocked the errant ball onto the green and bogeyed the hole in what looked like the end of his day.
He also bogeyed the 15th hole, falling further behind. No stranger to pain on the course, Tiger then birdied the 16th and 17th holes, setting up a dramatic finish.
Even with Scott's ultimate win, Tiger remains atop the FedEx Cup standings, and it remains to be seen how or whether he will play at the upcoming Deutsche Bank Championship.