Fast-approaching playoffs might take on very different look this year

jim furyk
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Defending FedExCup champion Jim Furyk is No. 76 in the standings and will have to work hard just to get back to the Tour Championship.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | 11:55 p.m.

Three majors down, one to go.

And while the attention now shifts to Atlanta for the final major of the year at the PGA Championship, right behind that is the start of the FedExCup playoffs on the PGA Tour. With only five tournaments left in the regular season, the standings indicate what kind of year it has been.

Two of the major champions -- Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke -- are not PGA Tour members and won’t be there.

A 14-time major champion might not be there for long, if at all.

Tiger Woods, who hasn’t played since he withdrew from The Players Championship in May and hasn’t earned any points since the Masters, dropped three spots to No. 129 in the FedExCup standings. Only the top 125 qualify for the playoff opener at The Barclays, and the fields are then trimmed to 100 players, then 70 and 30 for the Tour Championship.

Even if he returns soon, it might not be for long if Woods doesn’t play well.

But he’s not alone in his struggles. Three players who finished in the top 10 in the FedExCup last year are not among the top 100 in the standings, and two of them might not get to the first playoff event.

Ernie Els, who missed the cut in the last two majors, is at No. 139. Paul Casey is even farther down the list at No. 143. The other top 10 player from last year is Retief Goosen, who is No. 106.

Jim Furyk won the $10 million prize last year. He ended a streak of four straight missed cuts at the British Open, but he still is No. 76 in the standings and will have to work hard -- if not over the next five weeks, then the first two playoff events -- to get back to the Tour Championship.