Ernie under pressure

Ernie Els will not be chasing the $8-million prize fund, but rather the 2,500 FedExCup points on offer in The BMW Championship at Cog Hill Golf Club this week.

Els needs a third-place finish to progress in the FedExCup playoffs, but this third leg has seen only six players who start outside the top-30 gain entrance to the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in the last two years.

The three-time major winner has struggled with his putting throughout the season, but managed a 16th-place finish at The Deutsche Bank Championship.

With no cut despite its high points value, the BMW Championship carries more reward than mere progression. Players who make it to East Lake qualify for the first three majors of 2012 and eight other events on next year’s PGA schedule.

The Big Easy made the BMW Championship at 68th out of 70 entrants, and must produce the best golf of his season to finish in the top three at Cog Hill.

Countryman Rory Sabbatini leads the South African chances for FedExCup glory at the moment with his current position of 26th in the FedExCup standings.

Sabbo earned points in 17 events this year, but really came into contention with a 500-point boost from his win at the Honda Classic.

But Sabbatini had to fall back on his position at last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, where he tied for 68th and earned just eight points.

Sabbatini now requires a 43rd-place finish to ensure his spot in the Tour Championship.

Charl Schwartzel lies one spot back from Sabbatini and requires a 42nd-place finish to play East Lake on the 22nd September.

Schwartzel’s primary point earnings came with his Masters win, which provided a 600-point bonus to his tally.

That win is not the only indication of the threat Schwartzel poses – he has made 14 out of 14 cuts in FedExCup events during 2011.

He also raked in 243 points with a share of 21st at The Deutsche Bank Championship, and the no-cut style of the third playoff leg suits Schwartzel’s consistent game.

Despite the predicted scenarios, FedExCup standings will only be truly clear come Sunday. The one certainty is that the time to shine has once again arrived for Els.

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