JERSEY CITY, N.J. — To realize how far he has come, Jordan Spieth only has to consider the last time The Barclays was played at Liberty National. He was about 30 miles away at Trump National, winning the U.S. Junior Amateur at age 16.
Four years later, Spieth not only is in the big leagues, he’s trying to make the All-Star Game.
With a win at the John Deere Classic and a playoff loss last week at the Wyndham Championship, the 20-year-old Texan goes into the playoffs with the No. 8 seed and would seem to be a shoo-in to reach the Tour Championship.
Tiger Woods was the last player to start a season with no status and reach the Tour Championship.
“It’s pretty wild,” Spieth said. “Each year … I have a goal to achieve, to reach that new, higher level. And so far each year, I’ve been on track. This year, I maybe skipped a few steps. Like I’ve said before, I don’t really think of my age as my age. When you’re out here, everyone is your peer. New goals come up each day that I’m trying to reach out and accomplish. You can’t ever really rest out here. Everybody passes you up.”
OH, BROTHER: Two players are making it a little bit harder on themselves to qualify for the Tour Championship by skipping the first playoff event at The Barclays.
One is missing by choice, the other because of a family obligation.
Zach Johnson, at No. 18 in the standings, will be in Chicago this week for his brother’s wedding. Only one player has started at No. 18 and failed to reach the Tour Championship – J.B. Holmes in 2010.
DOWN TO THE WIRE: Patrick Cantlay won his second start on the Web.com Tour at the Colombia Championship and looked set to earn a PGA Tour card. But the former UCLA star missed three months with a back injury, only returning last week and missing the cut.
During that time off, Cantlay has fallen to No. 25 on the money list.
The top 25 after the Cox Classic this week in Omaha, Neb., are assured their PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season, and the next 50 are thrown in with the PGA Tour players from 126-200 in the FedEx Cup standings to fight for the other 25 cards.
Cantlay’s lead over Wes Roach at No. 26 is a mere $2,807.
Farther down the list is Michael Connell at No. 75, the cutoff for getting into the series of four tournaments to vie for 25 tour cards. Connell’s lead over Zach Sucher is $126.
GRAND SLAMMED: In a development that shocked no one, British Open champion Phil Mickelson has pulled out of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf because of a scheduling conflict. He was replaced in the field in Bermuda by Padraig Harrington, who won as an alternate in 2012.
Mickelson shot 59 in the Grand Slam when he won at Poipu Bay in 2004. He has not played it since.
THE C’S HAVE IT: European captain Liselotte Neumann told her team not to look at the scoreboards Sunday in the Solheim Cup, worrying only about their match instead of what kind of comeback the Americans might mount.
Turns out it didn’t matter, as Europe led early in the singles and had control most of the day.
It’s the lineup that made it clear Neumann was expecting a win all along. Just look at the names at 4-5-6 in the lineup, along with the ninth spot – all of the players had a first name that started with the letter “C.”
She revealed Sunday night that every player that has won the decisive point for Europe in their four previous wins all had names that began with “C.”
Catrin Nilsmark in 1992. Carin Koch in 2000 at Loch Lomond. Catriona Matthew in 2003 at Barseback. Caroline Hedwall in 2011 at Ireland.
“We just tried to put all the players that their names start with a ‘C’ close together,” Neumann said. “And it worked out really good. That was the strategy.”
She smiled at the silence.
“Did you get that?” she said. “Did I lose you?”
The winning putt came from Matthew in the No. 6 slot.
MISREADING THE TEA LEAVES: Tiger Woods was the overwhelming favorite going into the PGA Championship, particularly coming off a seven-shot win at the Bridgestone Invitational. But looking back at the whole of his career, it’s not as though Woods ever had a strong record of making majors a consecutive win.
The PGA Championship was the 20th time he had gone into a major coming off a win. His majors record under those circumstances is 4-16.
Woods won the Memorial and U.S. Open in 2000; The Players Championship and Masters Tournament in 2001; the Buick Open and PGA Championship in 2006; and the Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship in 2007.
His record in his next start after winning a major is 4-10. That includes a second-round loss in the Match Play Championship in 2009, held eight months after he won the U.S. Open and then had reconstructive knee surgery.
DIVOTS: Rory McIlroy plans to play in the Australian Open this year, held Nov. 28-Dec. 1 at Royal Sydney. … Hideki Matsuyama tied for 15th in Greensboro and easily wrapped up a PGA Tour card for the 2013-14 season. Matsuyama, who had a pair of top 10s in the majors, made $771,640. That would be the equivalent of No. 105 on the money list. … Davis Love III ended his streak of 27 consecutive years inside the top 100 on the PGA Tour money list when he failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. … Eight players failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since the FedEx Cup began in 2007 – David Toms, Harrington, Chad Campbell, Vijay Singh, Jonathan Byrd, Troy Matteson, Sean O’Hair and Robert Allenby. … NBC Sports is televising the final round of the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the LPGA Tour season. It will be shown from noon to 1:30 p.m. … As expected, Matt Kuchar is playing the World Cup in Australia at Royal Melbourne, one week after the Australian Masters on the same course.