Tiger Woods may be No. 2 in the FedExCup playoff standings, but the world No. 1 is still the leading man in the marquee threesome that will take the field for the BMW Championship on Thursday.
Woods, with a supporting cast that keeps changing, will tee off for the second straight playoff tournament with Adam Scott, third on the FEC points ladder, and Henrik Stenson, who assumed the top spot after his win two weeks ago at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Woods lagged an astonishing 18 strokes off Stenson’s pace and finished T65, while Scott, the victor at The Barclays, shared 53rd place.
With contestants in each event in the FEC series grouped together based on their point totals, Woods has been the only constant in the opening-round tee times reserved for the top guns and he remains the favorite to win this week's tilt. He started with Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker at Liberty National and with Scott and Phil Mickelson at TPC Boston.
Stenson tied for 43rd in the first playoff tourney but enters the week after a sizzling summer of golf that includes four top-three finishes in his last five starts. He may be 117th in strokes gained-putting on tour, but he ranks first in greens in regulation, fourth in total driving, fifth in scoring average, and sixth in driving accuracy.
On Thursday, Stenson, Woods, and Scott are slated to go off at 10:53 a.m. (CT) from the 10th tee at Conway Farms Golf Club outside Chicago, and 11:59 a.m. on Friday from tee No. 1.
Among the other featured groups in the 70-player field, defending champion Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson will join Daniel Summerhays on the 10th tee at 11:26 a.m. on Thursday (10:20 a.m. off the first on Friday). McIlroy, 41st in FEC points, has four days in the no-cut contest in which to turn on the gas and advance to next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake, which will host the top 30 survivors of the BMW.
Mickelson, who fired an 8-under 63 in the first round of the DBC, carded three consecutive bogeys and four in six holes to start the Labor Day finale. Lefty’s closing 71 featured two birdies on his 71st and 72nd holes, but by that time, he noted on his website, he was pleased just to miss the two-hour weather delay and get out of town in time for a Barclays outing in New York.
"I really enjoy the golf course," said Mickelson, who enters the week fifth in FEC points after his T41 outcome at the Deutsche Bank, "but this really wasn’t what I was expecting out of my game. I made way too many poor swings and big mistakes. Now I’m looking at putting everything into these last two weeks and winning the FedExCup."
Mickelson meets Kuchar and Graham DeLaet at 11:59 a.m. on the first tee on Thursday (10:53 a.m./No. 10 on Friday). After two consecutive missed cuts, at the Canadian Open and PGA Championship, DeLaet straightened out his game and is going for back-to-back-to-back top-three finishes.
Razor-sharp rookie Jordan Spieth, who drew Keegan Bradley and Jason Day for his first two rounds at the BMW, impressed his DBC final-round playing partner Mickelson.
"He made it look easy. He’s a very impressive player," said the reigning British Open champion. "He isn’t worried about looking pretty or swing positions, he’s just trying to shoot low scores and that’s what he does."
With eight top-10 finishes and one W in his inaugural tour season, Spieth shot a closing 62, tied for fourth at TPC Boston, and was a captain's pick for the U.S. Presidents Cup team. He’ll start the week in 10th place on the FEC leader board. His threesome has an 11:48 a.m. tee time on No. 1 on Thursday (10:42 a.m./No. 10 on Friday).