With two weeks left in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, now is not the time to be conservative.
Those currently in the top 30 in points want to maintain their position in order to advance to the season-ending Tour Championship. Meanwhile, the remaining 40 players that are outside looking in need to leave nothing on the table at next week’s BMW Championship.
“Top 30 is a big number on the PGA Tour, and I’m definitely wanting to get back to that year where I got into all four majors, and definitely you get to plan your year a lot better if you’re in those majors, and that’s what you want to do,” said Charley Hoffman, who sits in 32nd position. “Your career is based off major championships and when you’re not in them, you can’t better your major record.
“So winning PGA Tour events is obviously very special, but when you look back, you go, how many majors did you win and how did you play in those majors.”
The Tour Championship is not a major, but reaching that final stage gives players a few assurances for the following season, such as a tour card — if they didn’t already have one — and invites into a number of the more select tournaments.
Deutsche Bank Championship runner-up Chez Reavie, for example, moved from 87th in the FedEx Cup standings to ninth. He also moved from 80th to 35th on the money list and improved to 81st in the Official World Golf Rankings. And with two more weeks against quality fields, he is poised to better each of those numbers.
Jonathan Byrd is sitting 13th in the FedEx Cup Playoffs point standings and is virtually assured of a ticket to the Tour Championship, as well. But he expects to keep an aggressive mindset.
“I think we have tried to approach every week the same, trying to have a chance on Sunday,” he said. “Last year, like Charley [Hoffman], was the first year I was in all four majors, and I’m in the Tour Championship, for sure. So I have that kind of checked off, which is nice.
“But you still want to play well. You still want to keep moving up, and just take every opportunity you can to play well. When you have an opportunity to get in contention, you want to take advantage of that.”
In 2010, Byrd failed to make the Tour Championship and went on to play in the PGA Tour’s Fall Series. At the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Byrd, in near darkness, made a hole-in-one on the fourth playoff hole to win.
He says that victory was the catalyst his 2011 season opening win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
“You don’t want to stop [playing], you want to keep going,” he said. “You just have confidence and confidence is something that it kind of goes. And it’s the greatest feeling in golf coming to a tournament. I went into Hyundai and felt like I really had the approach, but my game wasn’t really quite as sharp as it was the previous year when I went into Hawaii. I felt in the back of my mind like even though it’s not as sharp as I wanted it to be, it’s still good enough. And that’s just confidence in knowing that the game doesn’t have to be perfect, you can just go compete each week, even when it’s not perfect, you are just going to go out there and get it done.”
While Byrd has posted just four other top-10 finishes this season, the victory set up his season. He now wants to end his season the same way it began.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.