A slow start to the Wyndham Championship has the end of the season in sight for a number of South Africans on the PGA TOUR.
As it stands, three of the four Saffas who started this week’s event – the last before the playoffs begin at The Northern Trust – are headed for a post-season break.
Despite a -2 start, Tyrone van Aswegen dropped off the bubble number to sit two places off a spot in next week’s field. Ernie Els’ late-season progress continued as he matched Van Aswegen’s mark. Unfortunately for the Big Easy – who birdied the 15th and 18th to finish under par – he started the week outside the top 200.
Retief Goosen will need three special rounds if he is to move from +1 and a projected 150th to inside the top 125.
Rory Sabbatini is the only one of the four ready for the playoffs but he will need to improve on his -1 start as he looks to move further up the rankings. The 42-year-old, whose last of his six wins on the tour came at The Honda Classic in 2011, dropped three places to 97th in the FedExCup rankings.
South Africa’s top-ranked players, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Charl Schwartzel, are all guaranteed their place next week. It is unclear whether Oosthuizen will tee it up after his back injury flared up ahead of the PGA Championship. The top-ranked Saffa can skip the week and return for the Dell Technologies Championship, reserved for the top 100 players, with his current ranking – 71st – likely to be enough at this stage.
At 78th, Grace looks likely for two of the four events but Schwartzel will need to play well next week as he currently sits in 92nd place.
The four playoff events will offer $32-million in prize money, meaning a total of $67-million is on the line over the four weeks of FedExCup competition.
Photo: EPA/Christiaan Kotze