No rest for weary in PGA Tour playoffs

Tiger Woods did not qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs for the third time, Jason Dufner will miss the postseason because of injury, and others might skip one of the three events heading to the Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

There is no break in the playoffs this year in order to give players heading to the Ryder Cup next month a week off following the Tour Championship before they head to Gleneagles in Scotland.

“I think guys will skip, for sure,” said Brandt Snedeker, who captured the FedEx Cup two years ago by winning in Atlanta after finishing second in the Barclays, which again kicks off the playoffs this week at Ridgewood Country Club (pictured) in Paramus, N.J.

“Everyone is going to take a hard look at the schedule. It will be interesting to see what guys do. I (took) a little more time off in the middle of the year. We (took breaks) last year, and it worked well. Just take a couple of three-week breaks.”

Woods, Phil Mickelson and other players passed on some playoff events in the past because of the demand the long season puts on the players, but this year the schedule figures to prompt more absences.

Rory McIlroy leads the FedEx Cup standings and the Race to Dubai, and he and the rest of the European Tour players have to make sure they have something left for those playoffs, which run through the World Tour Championship-Dubai in November.

“The key for me … is to have something in the tank,” said Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who will play in the Barclays but is taking the next event off because his wife is due to give birth to their first child. He is bidding to reach the Tour Championship for the first time in his career.

“That’s my goal, to be ready for that stretch (toward the end of the year).”

Adam Scott of Australia, defending champion in the Barclays, went to a reduced schedule a few years ago in an attempt to peak for the majors, and it paid off when he became the first Aussie to win the Masters last year.

Even though he points for the Grand Slam events, he also is taking the playoffs seriously.

“There’s no point in getting to July and feeling you don’t want to play golf, because the biggest golf is yet to be played in the two months after that,” said Scott, who doesn’t have to be concerned about a team event because the Presidents Cup was played last year.

“You’ve got to be champing at the bit after the PGA. Those are four big weeks, and they’re really important. That’s why I don’t come jumping out of the gate (at the beginning of the year).”

Scott knows about playing four big tournaments in as many weeks. When asked the last time he did it, he responded: “November.”

When he returned Down Under late last year as the Masters champion and even more of a national hero, there was pressure to play in all the big events in Australia, and play he did.

Scott won the Australian Masters and the Australian PGA, teamed with Jason Day to win the World Cup of Golf for the Aussies while finishing second in the individual standings, and lost to a birdie by McIlroy on the final hole of the Australian Open.

That is the kind of golf that would give anybody the FedEx Cup title, and Jimmy Walker played a little like that all season.

A 35-year-old journeyman became a star under the tutelage of instructor Butch Harmon, earning three wins during the 2013-14 season among his eight top-10 finishes.

Walker led the FedEx Cup standings for all but one week before McIlroy reeled off victories in the Open Championship, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship.

Having played 23 times this season on the PGA Tour, Walker is concerned about being fresh for the playoffs.

“It’s cool, you definitely want to be there at the end of it,” said Walker, who is a virtual lock to play in the Tour Championship for the first time. “It’s going to be fast and furious here at the end.

“I always feel like I kind of hit a wall in the summer, so I tried to take some time off and rest and relax here as of late and let the body recoup.”

Snedeker is around to remind everyone what can be done with limited rest.

Two years ago, he played eight consecutive weeks from the British Open through the BMW Championship. After the usual one-week break in the playoffs that is missing this year, he claimed the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship and then played in the Ryder Cup.

He is planning for much the same this year.

“I’m playing the rest of the year, if that’s what you mean,” he said when asked by reporters. “It will be a long stretch. It will be nine in a row at the end of the year.”

Snedeker hasn’t played as well this season, and he starts the playoffs 56th in the FedEx Cup standings.

However, he knows better than most how things can change quickly in the postseason.

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