Four Northern California PGA Tour pros went into the first round of the FedEx cup playoffs, the Barclays Championship, at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey this week, but only three are still in with a chance to move on. James Hahn, of Alameda, was the man in the unenviable position of first one on the wrong side of the line.
The top 125 players at the end of regular season play made it into the field at the Barclays Championship, contested August 22-25 at the redesigned Liberty National, with the top 100 players in the rankings advancing to the next stage when play concludes on Sunday. Fifteen players ranked 101 or above after the second-round cut did not advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston next week, and Hahn was just over the line, at #101. A further 10 players, some who are still in the field and some who are not, will fall by the wayside after this weekend
Hahn shot rounds of 68 and 76 on the par-71 Liberty National course, his 144 total missing the even-par cut by two strokes. One hole made all the difference for the 2003 Cal grad – the 250-yard par-3 eleventh. Hahn pulled his tee shot into the water left of the green, and after the penalty, the shot to the green and three putts he carded a triple-bogey six on the hole. The 31-year-old rookie had gone out in 1-under, erasing an early three-stroke deficit with a four-birdie run on holes 5 through 8 to turn in 35, but was unable to muster any more birdies after the triple at 11, and a pair of bogeys on the closing holes sealed his fate and ended his season.
Three other NorCal pros, all with Fresno-area connections, are still in the hunt for the FedEx Cup. Rookie Derek Ernst, who grew up in Clovis, attended UNLV and now calls Las Vegas home, shot rounds of 73 and 70, missing the cut by one. Ernst came into the week ranked 74th, and despite a projected 10-point drop to 84th position, will survive to play next week at TPC Boston in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Ernst has only made 7 of 19 cuts this season, but a big week at the Wells Fargo Championship in early May saw him notching up his first win on the PGA Tour, shooting him up the rankings.
Nick Watney, a Sacramento native who played his college golf at Fresno State, carded rounds of 68-70 to make the cut by four strokes. A third-round 69 moved him eight places up the leaderboard – his three-round total of 207 finds him at T-13 after three days of play. Watney came into the Barclays ranked 64th in the FedEx Cup race, and is projected to close out the weekend in 44th place.
It’s Kevin Chappell, a Fresno native who played his college golf at UCLA, who is leading the charge this weekend as far as NorCal golfers are concerned, and pretty much everyone else, too. After middling rounds of 68 and 72, Chappell caught fire today, turning in 3-under on the back nine after a 10th-tee start before putting his foot down on the front side. Racking up six more birdies in the front nine, including four in a row in the middle of the run, for a bogey-free 62, Chappell set a new Liberty National course record, vaulting himself up the scoreboard by 40 places, and up the FedEx Cup rankings to a projected 9th place, from 58th.
The 100 players who advance out of the Barclays this weekend will be looking to place in the top 70 next weekend at TPC Boston, in the Deutsche Bank Championship, enabling them to move on to the BMW Championship in Chicago, a no-cut event. After the BMW, the top 30 players will move on to the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club to vie for the big prize – the $10 million annuity awarded to the FedEx Cup Champion.