Graham DeLaet heads into one of the most important weekends of his PGA Tour career this week.
The Weyburn, Sask., native is one of only 30 players who have qualified for the last of four FedEx Cup playoff events after 125 started out last month.
That not only puts him in line for his first career PGA Tour win but also makes him mathematically eligible for the $10-million carrot that is dangling at the end of the stick.
Entering last week's rain-plagued BMW Championship, DeLaet was seeded fifth thanks to back-to-back top three finishes the previous two weeks. But a tie for 28th in Chicago leaves him as the seventh ranked player heading into the Tour Championship. Rather than controlling his own destiny, he will now need some help in order to claim the FedEx Cup title.
For DeLaet to cash the $10-million bonus, he will need to win the Tour Championship and have No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 2 Henrik Stenson finish in a tie for second or worse. (The remaining scenarios can be found here)
Woods, Stenson and the other three players in the top five - Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar - control their own fate in Atlanta by simply winning outright.
Woods, who enters the season-ending event in search of his sixth PGA Tour title this year, could mathematically win the bonus by finishing as low as 29th, given the various scenarios.
"I'm in a position just like the other four guys in the top five," said Woods, a previous two-time winner of the FedEx Cup. "You win the tournament, you win it outright.
"Sneds proved that last year," he added, referring to Brandt Snedeker, who clinched last year's Tour Championship and FedExCup honors after starting the week fifth in the standings.
Either way, it's been a career year for DeLaet, who only two years ago was fighting off doubts about coming from back surgery just a year after earning his way onto the PGA Tour. This year he has won more than $2.7-million in earnings which puts him in the top 20 on the PGA Tour's money list; he is first in Total Driving and third in Green in Regulation; and at No. 7 in FedEx Cup standings, he is the highest of the eight golfers still in the field that started the playoffs outside the top 30.
“All the hard work is finally paying off,” DeLaet told the New York Times earlier this year. “I’ve had a couple chances to win and haven’t been able to close the deal. The more times you are there, the more comfortable you become in that situation. I feel my time is coming.”
THIS WEEK IN GOLF
PGA TOUR - TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE: East Lake Golf Club (7,307 yards, par 70).
PURSE: $8 million. Winner’s share: $1.44 million.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Thursday, 1-6 p.m., 6:30-11:30 p.m.; Friday, 1-6 p.m., 8:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.; Sunday, noon-1 p.m., 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m.) and NBC (Saturday, noon-3:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1-6 p.m.).
CANADIANS IN THE FIELD: Graham DeLaet (7th in FedEx Cup standings)
NOTES: The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings qualified for the season-ending event. The top five — Tiger Woods is No. 1, followed by Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Johnson and Matt Kuchar — can take the $10 million FedEx Cup prize with a victory. The other 25 players have a chance to win the playoff title with a victory, but would need help from the players at the top of the standings. ...Graham DeLaet is playing in the Tour Championship for the first time in his career. By qualifying for the FedEx Cup finale, DeLaet has also earned invitations to the Masters, U.S. and British Opens in 2014. ...Rookie Jordan Spieth, who turned 20 in July, is set to eclipse Woods as the youngest player to play the Tour Championship. Woods was 20 years, 9 months at the 1996 event. ...Last year Brandt Snedeker won the event and the FedEx Cup, earning $11.44 million - $1.44 for the tournament victory and the $10 million bonus for the FedEx Cup title. ...Snedeker, 10th in the standings, is the first FedEx Cup champion to return to East Lake the year after winning the points race. ... Phil Mickelson will make his 17th start in the Tour Championship, the most in tournament history. ...Hunter Mahan will become the only player to tee it up in every FedExCup playoff round since the format started in 2007. ...East Lake, the course where Bobby Jones learned to play, was designed by Donald Ross and renovated by Rees Jones.
CHAMPIONS TOUR - HAWAII CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE: Kapolei Golf Course (7,001 yards, par 72).
PURSE: $1.8 million. Winner’s share: $270,000.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2:30-4:30 a.m., 6:30-9 p.m.; Sunday, 3-5 a.m., 7-9 p.m.).
CANADIANS IN THE FIELD: Jim Rutledge, Rod Spittle
NOTES: World Golf Hall of Fame member Vijay Singh will make his Champions Tour debut. Singh turned 50 back in February, qualifying him for the senior circuit. The 2008 FedEx Cup champion played 19 PGA Tour events this year with a tie for 20th at the Sony Open in Hawaii being his best result of the year. ...Kenny Perry, the Senior Players Championship and U.S. Senior Open winner, leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings — 857 points ahead of Bernhard Langer with six events left. ...Duffy Waldorf has four top-five finishes in his last tournaments, playing a combined 42-under-par in the stretch. ... Hale Irwin has eight official Champions Tour victories in Hawaii, winning the Turtle Bay Championship six times and the Mitsubishi Electric twice. He also has three victories in the Senior Skins and won the PGA Tour’s Sony Open.
EUROPEAN TOUR - ITALIAN OPEN
COURSE: Golf Club Torino (7,208 yards, par 72).
PURSE: $2 million. Winner’s share: $333,640.
TELEVISION: Golf Channel (Thursday, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Friday, 12:30-3 a.m., 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon-3:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1-3 a.m., 8-11:30 a.m.; Monday, 1-3:30 a.m.).
NOTES: Last year, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won the event for the second time. ...Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero top the Italian contingent. Molinari, the 2006 winner at Castello di Tolcinasco, and brother Edoardo grew up playing Golf Club Torino. Edoardo Molinari is sidelined by a left wrist injury. ... Retief Goosen and David Duval are also in the field.
SYMETRA TOUR - VOLVIK CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE: Reunion Resort, Kissimmee, Fl
CANADIANS IN THE FIELD: Angela Buzminski, Lorie Kane, Sue Kim, Danielle Mills, Samantha Richdale, Alena Sharp, Jessica Shepley, Stephanie Sherlock, Ashley Sholer, Nicole Vandermade, Jessica Wallace
NOTES: Sue Kim of Langley, B.C. sits third on the money list entering the event. She has one win and three top-10 results this year. ...Hamilton's Alena Sharp is 16th on the money list while Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C. sits 24th. ...The top-10 money winners at the conclusion of next week's Tour Championship will receive full status on the LPGA Tour in 2014.
EUROPEAN SENIOR TOUR - FRENCH RIVIERA MASTERS
COURSE: Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, Tourrettes, France.
PURSE: 400,000 (Euros)
CANADIANS IN THE FIELD: Phil Jonas, Rick Gibson, Jean Laforce, Bill Hardwick (alternate), Ken Tarling (alternate)
EUROPEAN TOUR Q-SCHOOL - FIRST STAGE
COURSES: Wychwood Park, England; Golf & Country Club Fleesensee, Germany
CANADIANS IN THE FIELD: Lindsay Renolds (England), Brendan Barrack (Germany)