PGA Tour playoff spots, maybe even Ryder berth, on the line at Wyndham

anthony kim
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Thumb surgery in May cost Anthony Kim three months, and he struggled in both tournaments he played since returning, finishing 16 over at the Bridgestone and missing the cut last week at the PGA Championship.
By
Joedy McCreary
Associated Press

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Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | 6:48 p.m.

Anthony Kim could use another push to strengthen his case for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Trevor Immelman’s need this week is even more pressing.

Without a strong showing at the Wyndham Championship, he might not make golf’s postseason.

The final event before the PGA Tour’s lucrative finishing kick starts Thursday and promises to once again be dominated by players trying to make it to other events -- either the Ryder Cup or the FedExCup playoffs.

“It’s just time for me to get the ball in the hole the next month and prove to him that I’m playing well enough to make that team,” said Kim, part of the winning U.S. team two years ago at Valhalla. The “him” is Captain Corey Pavin, who will announce his wild-card selections Sept. 7.

It’s been a rough past few months for the 25-year-old Kim, whose first PGA Tour victory came two years ago and a few hours down the road in Charlotte at the former Wachovia Championship.

Thumb surgery in May cost him three months, and he struggled in both tournaments he played since returning, finishing 16 over at the Bridgestone and missing the cut last week at the PGA Championship.

That dropped him off the list of qualifiers and placed his fate squarely in Pavin’s hands.

“I wouldn’t say added pressure -- I really didn’t have anything to lose since I came back,” Kim said Wednesday. “I haven’t put the ball in the hole, and I knew that when I came back, I was going to be rusty. I wish I had practiced a little bit more before I played, but I just wasn’t able to do it. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, but at the same time, I was hoping for the best. It didn’t turn out that way, and I just got bumped out.”

One thing Kim won’t have to worry about: making it to the playoffs. He arrived at Sedgefield Country Club at No. 14 on the points list, the highest-ranked player in the field. As always, there’s no shortage of players scrambling to lock up a spot at The Barclays.

“I think guys put this on the calendar as a last chance to get a lot of points before you go into the playoffs,” 2007 winner Brandt Snedeker said. “You’ve seen guys jump in the past. … How it can change your year, your career and everything else that goes along with it. That all makes for a very important week.”

Among those looking for a last-minute points boost is Immelman. He’s at No. 154 -- 113 points behind No. 125 Michael Letzig -- and is chasing his first top-10 finish since 2008.

He’s made the cut in only eight of the 14 tournaments he’s played this year, and playing his fourth tournament since the British Open, needs quite a push just to make it to the next one, next week at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.

“Obviously, I want to be there. There’s no doubt about it,” Immelman said. “It’s something that every player on the PGA Tour is trying to make sure he’s a part of, plain and simple.

“But I’m in such an interesting phase of my career where the last couple years has sort of been a stop-start. … (I’ve) really struggled to get any momentum,” he added. “It’s been years since I’ve (played this many events). … For me right now, everything is to make sure by the time Jan. 1 comes, I’m able to play a full schedule next year and play the way I know I can.”

He certainly isn’t alone. No. 164 Fred Couples needs to finish third to qualify for The Barclays, while any player ranked 153rd or better who finishes in the top five this week will rack up enough points to reach the first tournament of the playoffs.

On the other side of the bubble is Robert Garrigus, who is looking to keep himself in the postseason fold after arriving at No. 122 and describing the four-week playoff series as “pretty much like four majors.”

“Playing well this week is a big deal,” Garrigus said, “but also you can look at it, just go out and have fun.”