JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley stood on the 18th tee at Liberty National Golf Club on Sunday, an hour apart, and knew precisely what was at stake. A par meant moving on. Bogey or worse meant going home.
Both began the Barclays outside the magic 100, the number needed to advance to this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, the PGA Tour’s second playoff event. Both had done enough, through 71 holes, to be on the good side of the bubble. A few more solid swings and Chalmers and Baddeley would be bound for Boston.
Pressure is easy to detect, hard to measure, and difficult to perform under.
Chalmers has faced pressure at almost every turn the past month. He handled the moment well, making the 4 at the home hole to seal his spot in the Deutsche Bank Championship. Baddeley is having one of his worst seasons on tour, so perhaps it seemed fitting that he bunkered his tee shot, failed to reach the green in two, then missed the 6-footer for par. A bogey-bogey-bogey finish, when he was inside the projected cut-off all day.
“Just a horrendous finish, bogeying the last three. They’re pretty easy holes with the wind today. Not good,” Baddeley said. “I paid the penalty for any errant shot, and I didn’t make a putt all day.”
Baddeley was tied for 13th at the start of the final round, only six shots behind the leaders. He was tied with Adam Scott, who went on to shoot a 5-under-par 66 on Sunday and win the Barclays by one shot, over Tiger Woods (69), Justin Rose (68), Gary Woodland (73), and Graham DeLaet (65).
Baddeley limped home in 77, which meant his playoff run is over. He began the day with thoughts of winning, and ended it without even advancing.
“I saw the whole time, I was projected inside so I wasn’t really stressed,” Baddeley said. “I saw I was projected 93 or something playing 17, so I’d have to have a decent finish the last two [holes]. Saw I was projected 94 on the last green, so I knew I had to make par, and just . . . uh, yeah . . . it was terrible.”
Baddeley struggled to find the right words and wore the look of pained frustration, after finishing just outside the number on the points list, at No. 101. Not so Chalmers, who began the week at No. 122. His par at the last solidified his spot at No. 93.
“I struggled a little today, but got it to the house and I get to play again next week. That’s what the playoffs are about,” said Chalmers, who shot 74 and tied for 37th. He knew before the Barclays started that he’d need to place 41st or better to keep playing. Chalmers made a par on the last hole of his second round to make the cut on the number, then had a hole-in-one in a Saturday 66 to give him a little extra cushion, which he ended up using.
Chalmers was one of five players to work their way into the Deutsche Bank Championship field after starting the Barclays outside the top 100. Martin Kaymer (No. 103), Camilo Villegas (110), Erik Compton (117), and Stuart Appleby (123) were the others, with Villegas the biggest beneficiary of Baddeley’s late-round collapse. On the outside for most of the day after he shot a final-round 76, Villegas just sneaked in and claimed the last spot, at No. 100.
Five players in meant five players out. James Driscoll (No. 93) was the highest player on the FedEx Cup points list to drop below the top 100, losing 10 spots after missing the cut. Ted Potter Jr. (96), J.J. Henry (97), Geoff Ogilvy (99), and Jeff Overton (100) also got bounced. Potter and Henry missed the cut, while Ogilvy (65th) and Overton (T-66th) couldn’t finish high enough at Liberty National.
Driscoll, a Boston resident who has yet to play in the Deutsche Bank Championship as a playoff event, still had an outside chance at getting in, even on Sunday. He started the day projected to finish No. 101, and would need help from others to get bumped up. Driscoll stayed away from the TV, though, choosing to periodically check his phone for updates while relaxing on the beach.
So the field of 100 is set this week for Norton. There hasn’t been much volatility to the playoffs so far, Baddeley’s late misfortune notwithstanding. Nobody played their way into the top 125 at the last tournament before the Barclays, and only five made the jump going to the Deutsche Bank Championship, the smallest number since four in 2009. Thirty more players are on the bubble now, since only the top 70 advance to the third playoff tournament, the BMW Championship.
“This is the wrong kind of pressure. You want the pressure to win a tournament, not just get to next week,” Chalmers said. “But it’s a start.”
Pressure starts up again on Friday.