Jersey City, N.J. (AP) — Heath Slocum might have been the one player no
one expected to win The Barclays. He was locked in a tense battle over
the final hour Sunday at Liberty National with some of the biggest
names in golf — Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Padraig Harrington and
Even more incredible is that a week ago, Slocum was
not even sure he would make it to the opening event of the PGA Tour
Playoffs. Having missed the cut, he had to wait until the tournament
was over to learn that by the slimmest of margins — two points — he was
the No. 124 seed out of the 125 players who qualified.
"My fate was not in my own hands," Slocum said.
He had his hands around that putter on the 18th green, however, and delivered the biggest shot of his life.
the same green where Woods stunned the crowd by missing from 7 feet,
Slocum knocked in a 20-foot par for a one-shot victory at The Barclays
to get this FedEx Cup bonanza off to a compelling start.
closed with a 4-under 67 to win for the third time in his career, and
first time in four years. The victory, worth $1.35 million, moved him
from No. 124 to No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings, giving him a shot at
the $10 million prize next month in Atlanta.
"It was an
incredible day, incredible experience," Slocum said. "I was just kind
of lucky to come out on top. A lot of good players. At the end of the
day, that putt on the last was magical. I'll remember that for the rest
of my life."
It was another finish Woods would like to forget.
his first tournament since losing a two-shot lead to unheralded Y.E.
Yang in the PGA Championship, the putter again cost Woods a chance to
win — not only the final round, but all week on greens he could never
Woods rimmed out a 3-foot par putt early in the round. He
twice missed from inside 10 feet on par 5s. And after another clutch
shot on the 18th hole, this one a 6-iron from 189 yards to 7 feet with
a chance to tie for the lead, the birdie putt slid by on the left.
"It happens," said Woods, who shot a 67. "Not too many golf courses that you misread putts that badly. This golf course is one."
The drama unfolded even after some of the stars had left the course.
finished his bogey-free 66 and had his clubs in the trunk of his car
when he heard the loud cheer from the 18th green after Woods stuffed
his 6-iron close. Then came a groan after the missed putt. Els had his
golf shoes in a plastic bag when he was told that Slocum and Stricker,
tied for the lead at 9 under had driven into fairway bunkers on the
18th. He quickly changed shoes and headed to the range.
caught the lip of the bunker, which left him short of the green, and
hit wedge to 10 feet. Slocum also came up short, as did his wedge,
leaving him 20 feet from the top of the ridge.
Slocum raised both
arms in the air when his par putt broke gently back to the left and
disappeared into the cup. Stricker's putt to force a two-way playoff
caught the left lip of the cup.
In the third year of these playoffs, the FedEx Cup finally has a winner that resembles a real underdog.
what it's all about," Slocum said. "I was sweating it out last week. I
didn't even know if I'd be here. I came in here with the attitude that
I had nothing to lose."
He turned into a huge winner.
who came into The Barclays at No. 197 in the world ranking, finished at
9-under 275 for the biggest win of his career. His other two victories
were opposite-field events, when the best players in the world were
He faced an All-Star cast across the Hudson River from Manhattan, and Slocum shined.
35-year-old knocked in a 25-foot birdie at No. 2, the toughest par 3 at
Liberty National, then surged into a share of the lead by holing out
from 157 yards with a 7-iron for eagle on No. 5. He was steady the rest
of the way, especially on the 18th.
"Anybody here in this field
has the potential to win the tournament," Stricker said. "Heath is a
very steady player. He's a very good player. I don't think we should be
surprised that he won."
The surprise came from Woods.
world's No. 1 player was lurking most of the day, unable to get any
traction while missing so many putts. A 3-footer for par rimmed around
the cup at No. 4, and he failed to convert birdie putts on two of the
par 5s from inside 10 feet.
Down the stretch, everything changed.
made a 10-foot birdie on the 14th, saved par with a 15-foot putt on the
next hole, and got in range with pitch to 2 feet for birdie on the
16th. And with everything riding on one shot, he nailed his 6-iron to
Any other week, any other course, Woods making that putt was practically a given.
This one never had a chance.
"Usually, he makes it," Slocum said. "Ho-hum for him. I guess you can't make 'em all."
played bogey-free and pulled into a tie for the lead with a birdie on
the par-3 14th. He might have been hurt using a new driver, after
discovering a crack in his other one on Saturday. Els felt his tee
shots were getting away to the right, and he didn't want to risk such a
mistake on the par-4 16th, which played only 287 yards in the final
round. He laid up and made par.
"From where I've come from, where
my game has been, where my confidence has been, this is moving in the
right direction," said Els, who has not won since March 2008 at the
Harrington continued his solid form, getting into
the mix for the third straight tournament. He finished with four
birdies over the final seven holes, making a long birdie at the 18th.
The final round featured endless possibilities, except for the guys atop the leaderboard.
Marino and Paul Goydos, tied for the lead at 9 under to start the final
round, and Webb Simpson and Fredrik Jacobson, both two shots behind,
combined to go 11-over par. Marino shot 77, while Goydos made only one
birdie in his round of 75.