If Ernie Els thought getting into the FedExCup playoffs at last weekÂs Wyndham Championship was tough, heÂs got a few weeks of real tension waiting for him starting at The Barclays this week.
He got himself into contention at Wyndham, and ended up sharing 30th Â enough for an eight-position nudge up the FedExCup leaderboard to 118th, inside the top 125 and into the playoffs.
He characterised his week as almost as tough as any he has experienced in his career: ÂYou don’t want to mess up too badly,Â he said.
ÂItÂs a terrible way to feel on the golf course because you know you want to try and contend but you also donÂt want to screw up. ItÂs a terrible feeling to play. ItÂs almost like going back to Q-School,Â he added.
Now, with 357 invaluable points to his name, he has to do some hard work in The Barclays, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship if he is to make it into the top 30 and win a spot in the Tour Championship in Atlanta on September 22.
That hard work is going to take all ElsÂ experience and skills, as well as a lot of patience as he continues his battle to come to grips with his putting and his new belly putter.
But beyond that, there is some simple arithmetic with which he needs to come to grips: He needs to win enough points to get into the top 100 to make the field for the Deutsche Bank, the top 70 for the BMW Championship two weeks after that, and then into the top 30.
Like so many of these sporting odysseys, there is a high road and a low road to the final destination.
In this case, thereÂs also a super highway: Win, and a multitude of cracks in a winless year will be papered over with the 2,500 points on offer for The Barclays champion. With that, heÂll be extremely unlikely to fall out of the top 30 by the time the trip to Atlanta rolls around.
The high road is perhaps a little less difficult: A top-10 finish will give him 375 points or more Â depending on his position Â and will move him close to safety for the BMW Championship where the top 70 will play.
Currently, the player in 70th position has 608 points.
Then the low road: Do enough to get into the top 100 with a top-50 finish at The Barclays, and hope the game keeps getting better to push through all the way to the Tour Championship.
There are 105 points for 50th at The Barclays (100 for 51st), and the current 100th placed player has 450 points, so inside the top 50 is probably the safest option for Els. But there would still be work to be done.
But the Big Easy is still one of the best iron players in the game, so if the belly putter catches fire this week, it could be time for a cruise on the super highway.