Ernie’s outside chance for FedExCup glory

A win at the Tour Championship will not be enough for Ernie Els to put a FedEx Cup next to his latest Claret Jug: he needs each of the current top six to play their way out of contention.

“I’m very much looking forward to going back to East Lake and putting in a strong performance,” said Els. “Obviously winning the British Open — winning any major, in fact — makes a good season great. But there’s plenty of golf left to play in 2012 and I’d love to get another victory under my belt. Yeah, that would put a cherry on the icing on the cake!”

The Big Easy currently holds 22nd in the FedEx Cup point standings, and the reset has set him to 290 points. Aside from winning the Tour Championship, Els needs specific results from the points leaders.

The First contender Els needs to deal with? World number one Rory McIlroy. Els needs the Irish youngster to finish in a nine-way tie for 11th or worse.

Next in the gauntlet is Tiger Woods, who is currently 250 points behind McIlroy and has every chance of taking the Cup. But the big win is beginning to look achievable for Els – Woods need only finish in a four-way tie for fifth in order for an Els victory to secure the $10-million grand prize.

Maybe it’s because the odds are stacked against him, maybe it’s that famously casual demeanour, but Els was happy just to be playing at the Tour Championship.

“Of course I’m disappointed to have not made a stronger run at any one of the last three Playoffs events, but I have to balance that with a certain amount of satisfaction at being able to tee it up in the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta next week. I failed to qualify for this tournament last year and believe me that didn’t sit well,” he said.

Aside from the top two, if Els wins the Tour Champs he will need a few other players to come to his party. Number three Nick Watney must finish in a three-way tie for third or worse. Likewise Phil Mickelson must, at best, finish in a four-way tie for second.

Popular Ryder Cup Captain’s pick Brandt Snedeker holds fifth place in the points. Should he finish in a three-way tie for second or worse, a win will clinch it for Els.

The last man who could stop Els in spite of a victory is countryman Louis Oosthuizen. Currently in sixth place, Oosthuizen need only finish tied second or worse in order for Els to win the Cup with a victory at East Lake.

While the chances are slim, Els has been enjoying his golf of late and has a week to rest ahead of the season finale. With the stress off his mind, Els could just surprise the PGA Tour’s top 30 next week.

“We have a week off now and I’m going to take the opportunity to relax before I get ready for the Tour Championship. As I said before, it’s been an intense summer of golf and time off has been in pretty short supply. I’m not complaining. It’s been great. But I need to rest up a little bit this week and get myself fresh mentally and physically so I can hopefully play some really good stuff for what’s left,” he said.

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