Robinson: Put up, or shut up time for Canadian golfers
It's the ultimate put up, or shut up week for three Canadians on the PGA Tour.
Matt McQuillan of Kingston, Ont., and Vernon, B.C.'s Chris Baryla both need high finishes at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., while David Hearn of Brantford, Ont., simply needs the wheels not to fall off in order to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs that start next week at the Barclays in Edison, N.J.
With Hearn (112th) likely safe, McQuillan (141st) and Baryla (218th) are aiming to squeeze inside the top 125 who will tee it up at the first playoff event.
Calgary's Stephen Ames won't qualify as he's currently 136th with no hope of moving up because he's not playing at the Wyndham.
Hearn's situation is interesting and a by-product of the unique season he's having during his second go-around as a PGA Tour member. The 32-year-old has made 14 of 20 cuts this season but aside from one good run in Houston (T6), he's failed to make a serious push up weekend leaderboards.
On the PGA Tour, players who finish inside the top 10 tend to be rewarded disproportionately in money, whereas FedEx Cup points are generally doled out more evenly. The end result: Hearn's solid made-cut percentage means it would take a perfect storm of negative developments at this weekend's Wyndham Open for him to fall out of the top 125.
But that doesn't mean it's all clear sailing ahead. Hearn has money-list concerns - he's currently 128 in earnings. Only the top 125 keep their cards for next year so he needs a decent finish and a good paycheque.
Rookie McQuillan bouncing back
Contending is something that McQuillan has been able to do on a couple occasions over the past two months. Two high finishes — a T3 in Mississippi in July and a T6 two weeks ago in Reno — have stemmed the freefall that originated with a string of 10 missed cuts early in this rookie year. It also put a shade more than $360,000 US in his PGA Tour bank account, moving him to 137th on the money list, four notches higher than he is on the FedEx Cup standing.
To make the playoffs, which begin with the Barclays, McQuillan will likely need a finish at least equal to his T-6 in Reno.
"I'm trying not to think about it," McQuillan said of the money list/FedEx Cup chase. "My goal is just to [retain PGA Tour] status."
Baryla has made just a single cut this year and will have to win the tournament or at least finish inside the top three and get some help.
Ames, Baryla, Hearn and McQuillan are all eyeing the four-event Fall Series to keep their cards. Weyburn, Sask.'s Graham DeLaet was in a precarious position last fall and parlayed a good month during the season-ending stretch to easily keep his card.
DeLaet and Bright's Grove, Ont.'s Mike Weir are both out. DeLaet's career will continue on the PGA Tour when he's healthy again after having back surgery and cutting short his return to action earlier this summer.
Weir made just two of 15 cuts this season and will likely have to use his position on the career money list to prolong his PGA Tour career when he returns from elbow issues.
Big names outside the cutoff
With three Canadians — Baryla, Hearn and McQuillan — trying to sew up a spot in the FedEx Cup playoffs this weekend, there are some big names in danger of missing the cut. Here's a look at some of them:Camilo Villegas (125)
– Winner of two FedEx Cup playoff events is currently residing on the cut lineErnie Els (126)
– Three-time major champion one spot outside of qualifyingTiger Woods (129)
– Former world No. 1's bizarrely bad season will not include the FedEx Cup playoffs because he's not playing this week.Padraig Harrington (130)
– Three-time major champ has always struggled in FedEx Cup — he likely won't make playoffs this time around.Justin Leonard (142)
– Former British Open winner is one spot behind Matt McQuillan.Angel Cabrera (150)
– Two-time major winner tends to play better in majors than regular tournaments.