Ernie Els has only missed the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour once in the FedExCup era, and now he looks as if he is making a determined effort to go the way to East Lake again this year.
He took a tumble when he missed the cut in last week’s tournament, The Barclays, but is now projected to move from 91st to 66th in the FedExCup standings after an opening round of five-under-par 66 in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
The Big Easy needs a solid showing this week to qualify for the BMW Championship, the next round in the lucrative four-stage playoffs, where only the top 70 players get to tee it up. He is well on his way to doing just that after the first round.
Els’ opening round included six birdies and just one bogey. That performance was good enough to put him just three shots off the lead currently held at eight-under by Phil Mickelson and Brian Davis. Els is tied with 15 others for seventh place heading into the second round.
Having come to TPC Boston ranked 91st in the FedEx Cup standings, Els knows that he needs to play well this week in order to crack the top 70 and make it to the next playoff event. As it stands right now, Els would move to 66th based upon his current standing.
Last year’s Open champion has had a quiet year in the US, despite his win in Europe in the BMW International Open in Germany. In 17 events in the US this year, Els has managed only six top 25 finishes and only one top 10.
The only thing that matters, however, is that he is still alive in the playoffs and that he has put himself in a position to succeed.
Tim Clark came in ranked 70th but the South African projects to drop to 83 after his first-round one-over-par 73, which leaves him in a share of 87th.
Rory Sabbatini fired a one-under-par 70, and projects to 64th from his current 56th – still in the running for the BMW Championship.