Padraig Harrington was all set for a week’s vacation in the Bahamas with his wife and two children. That was before a tie for 64th at the PGA Championship kept him entrenched at No. 130 on the FedEx Cup Playoff points list.
So sitting five spots away from the final qualifying position with one tournament before the start of the playoffs, Harrington’s wife, Caroline, made an executive decision. He was playing this week’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
“She says, ‘I think you got to go and play,’” Harrington said. “It wasn’t a decision I was going to make and tell the family we’re not going, but it was a decision my wife was happy to make on my behalf and say, ‘I think you should get up there and qualify.”
Hard to blame her, what with a potential $10 million payout waiting should Harrington win the title. First, though, Harrington must make the Wyndham Championship cut and earn a solid week’s pay.
No pressure there, right?
“Obviously the FedEx Cup comes into my mind if I am struggling to make the cut or just make the cut and I need a decent weekend,” he said. “But, if I obviously play well and get some good scores in the bag, it’s not going to be an issue at all.”
The playoff system still remains a little hard to understand for the average fan, but the top 125 players on the points list after this week’s tournament advance to next week’s first playoff event, The Barclays.
After each tournament the point standings are readjusted and the fields dwindle. The top 100 after The Barclays advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship and in subsequent weeks the top 70 advance to the BMW Championship and the top 30 to the season-ending Tour Championship.
“Everybody wants to play in these playoff events and give themselves a shot because anything can happen,” said Bill Haas, who sits 15th on the points list. “Play well at the right time and even though maybe you didn’t play great all year you’ve earned the right to be in the playoffs.”
Harrington is not the only marquee name looking to crack that final top 125. Fellow major winners Ernie Els (No. 126), Ben Curtis (No. 131) and Justin Leonard (No. 142) are in the field. Tiger Woods (No. 129) is not.
“I would assume he did well to make two weeks with his leg,” said Harrington, speculating on why Woods, who played the past two weeks after missing nearly three months due to an Achilles and knee injury, chose not to enter the field. “You can still see that it’s not a hundred percent. Might be a hundred percent, but certainly pushing it another week wouldn’t have been good for him physically. I can understand him not pushing the boat and coming here.”
But think of all the potential earnings left on the table. Certainly was enough to make Caroline Harrington rethink a week at the Bahamas.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.