<
>

Many top players don't advance to BMW

9/3/2007 - Golf

NORTON, Mass. -- Two down, two to go in the PGA Tour's inaugural playoff format, officially branded as the "PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup" by the folks at headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Most of the top players will continue onto this week's upcoming BMW Championship and, with a little luck, the Tour Championship one week later. That's right, we said "most" ... but not all.

Deutsche Bank Championship winner and new FedEx points leader Phil Mickelson and the next 69 players on the list will wave goodbye to some high-caliber brethren, as many top names have failed to reach the third round, effectively ending their seasons, should they not opt to play in any of the seven post-playoff Fall Finish events.

The Weekly 18 counts down the best players to be knocked out already in the Fed Ex Cup.

1. Retief Goosen
What happened to the Goose this year? The two-time U.S. Open champ only made a Tiger-like 14 appearances and though he only missed two cuts -- including at this past week's Deutsche Bank Championship -- that T-2 at the Masters remains his lone top-15 result of the season. You could have earned big money before the season claiming that Goosen would finish outside of the top-10 on the final points list, let alone outside of the top-70.

2. Chris DiMarco
DiMarco's story for 2007? Injuries, injuries, injuries. A bum shoulder required two cortisone shots early in the year and he never fully got back on track, though he did own an eight-tournament made-cut streak that culminated with a T-4 at Firestone -- his only top-10 of the season.

3. Mike Weir
File this one under Blessing In Disguise. Weir has been up and down lately -- his opening rounds of 65-68 were followed by a 74-73 weekend at the Deutsche Bank -- but failing to reach the BMW will likely give him three weeks of practice time prior to competing in the Presidents Cup in his native Canada later this month.

4. Davis Love III
Is this the beginning of the end for DL3? Though he won at Greensboro late last season, Love showed signs of slowing down in 2007, with only four top-25 results in 21 starts. His biggest slide occurred from early-June through mid-August, when he MC'd in five of six events, though not without good reason; he was underdoing kidney stone discomfort for much of that time and finally had surgery to remove them in mid-August.

5. Chad Campbell
Paging Chad Campbell. Has anyone seen Chad Campbell? The man once thought to be the world's next great player failed to finish higher than T-13 in 23 stroke-play events this season. (He did pull a fourth place at the Accenture Match Play Championship.) With three previous wins in five years on tour prior to 2007, Campbell is among one of the biggest surprises on this list.

6. Justin Leonard
After a disappointing 2006 season, it looked like more of the same for Leonard this year, as he MC'd in each of his first six starts. After changing instructors and caddies, however, the former British Open champ went on a run that included a T-2 at the Buick Open. He'll take heart in the fact that his last regular season round of the year showed a pair of eagles on the scorecard en route to a 67 on Monday.

7. Jose Maria Olazabal
Despite a decent season entering the playoffs, buoyed by a T-3 at the Players, Olazabal couldn't capitalize on his inclusion in the first two events due to injury. He hasn't competed in the U.S. since shooting 75-80 to miss the cut at last month's PGA Championship.

8. Ben Curtis
The best of times, the worst of times? Curtis finished T-4 at Bay Hill, T-8 at Carnoustie and ... well, that was about it. His next-highest finish was a T-29 at Colonial, but let's not call the 2003 British Open champ a fluke; he did win two PGA Tour events a year ago.

9. Fred Funk
With full status on both the PGA and Champions tours, Funk opted to compete full-time on the former circuit -- and it wasn't such a bad idea, as the fan fave won the inaugural Mayakoba Golf Classic back in February. He'll have his choice of tours over the next few years as well, but not over the next few weeks, as a missed cut in Boston sealed his fate.

10. Rich Beem
The former PGA champ was poised to become the Cinderella story of the playoffs. After just squeezing into the top-144, he punched a ticket to TPC-Boston with a T-7 finish at The Barclays last week. Opening rounds of 67-66 gave him a share of the 36-hole Deutsche Bank lead, but days of 73-74 left him in a share of 30th place and well out of contention for inclusion in the BMW.

11. Shaun Micheel
It's been another good-but-not-great season for Micheel, who sprinkled six top-25s among his 23 starts. Another ex-PGA winner who's still looking for his first victory since hitting that world-class 7-iron on the final hole at Oak Hill, don't expect Micheel to remain winless through this time next season.

12. J.J. Henry
It's better to have one great tournament than a whole bunch of decent ones. Case in point: J.J. Henry, who made the cut in 17 of 24 starts, but only saw one top-10 -- a T-8 at the season-opening, limited-field Mercedes-Benz Championship. That's got to be disappointing for a guy who preparing for his first foray to Ryder Cup just a year ago.

13. Steve Elkington
Elkington played in 24 events this year -- his most since 1991 -- and didn't fare too badly, making the cut in 16 of those starts, with eight top-25s. In the end though, a lack of top finishes (his best was a T-5 at the Buick Open) left him on the outside looking in.

14. Bart Bryant
Just two years ago, Bryant was putting the finishing touches on a career year that included a victory at the Tour Championship. This time around, he won't even get a chance to knock it around East Lake. After rounds of 72-67-66 put him into contention at the Deutsche Bank, a final-round 76 dropped him into a T-41 finish.

15. Steve Flesch
There were no pleasures of the Flesch on Monday, as the recent Reno-Tahoe Open champion shot a brutal final-round 78 to miss the 70th and final spot in the BMW field by a mere 128 points. For a guy who plays seemingly every single week, it's a shame -- not only will he have to put the clubs away for at least a few weeks, but he was playing well lately, with four top-25s in his last five starts entering this week.

16. Joe Ogilvie
As part of the PGA Tour's policy board, Ogilvie was instrumental in helping the FedEx Cup come to fruition, while serving as a liaison between players and the tour. He failed to make it to the BMW, but the season was hardly a lost one as the Duke University grad earned his long-awaited first PGA Tour victory at the U.S. Bank Championship.

17. Tom Lehman
Traditionally, U.S. Ryder Cup captains tend not to focus on their own games after leading the team in the biennial international competition. Exhibits A, B and C: Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange and Ben Crenshaw effectively saw their careers come to a screeching halt by the time their captaincies had ended. Lehman, however, played a full schedule and though the 48-year-old still showed signs of being able to hang with the young guys -- he owned three top-six finishes -- he was eventually undone by a wrist injury that cut his season short.

18. Jason Gore
A fan favorite after contending for the 2005 U.S. Open title as a Nationwide Tour player, only to earn an in-season promotion and subsequent 84 Lumber Classic victory later that year, Gore struggled early this season, but finished strong, with a T-2 at the Buick Open and T-7 in Greensboro in recent starts. Following a third-round 64 at the Deutsche Bank, he was on the verge of qualifying for the top-70, but a final-day 74 left him 11 spots off the pace.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com