This week's field at the BMW Championship is keeping an eye on two leaderboards — the one for the tournament itself and the other that tracks the standings for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
This the final week players can qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta. The top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list will move on, while the others will be eliminated from the playoffs.
That means most of the field for this week's tournament at Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis, will need to perform well just to have a shot to reach the Tour Championship and earn the opportunity to compete for the $10 million prize.
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“I'm just trying to take care of business and get the win,” current FedEx Cup points leader Patrick Reed said. “If you do that, that just takes care of everything else.”
There has traditionally been very little volatility in the standings at this point. Over the previous nine FedEx Cup playoffs, only 24 players have moved inside the top 30 — at least two each year but never more than four.
There is no cut at the 70-player BMW Championship and anyone who finishes third or better should gather enough points to qualify for the Tour Championship. That's the approach taken by veteran Marc Leishman, who is trying to reach Atlanta for the first time since 2009.
“It's pretty much win or go home for me,” said Leishman, who needs to finish among the top three to advance. “It will be my last tournament of the year, so try and make it a really good one. If it is a really good one, I'll get to Atlanta. I really want to get to Atlanta again.”
The poster child for the last-minute surge is Bill Horschel. In 2014, he entered the playoffs ranked No. 69, won two playoff events and walked away with the FedEx Cup.
“Everyone here this week can do what Billy Horschel did a couple of years ago,” said Marc Leishman. “Go win and all of a sudden you've got the FedEx Cup in your hands.”
Anyone already in the top 30 on the points list can keep their spot by finishing no worse than 30th. It gets exponentially more difficult the further a player stands down the points list. Even Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose needs to finish among the top three to advance.
Defending BMW champion Jason Day doesn't have to worry reaching Atlanta. He's second in the standings behind Reed, who won The Barclays two weeks ago. Dustin Johnson is No. 3 and Rory McIlroy, who won last week's Deutsche-Bank Championship, is fourth.
McIlroy won the BMW Championship when it was last held at Crooked Stick in 2012. Day won last year's tournament at Conway Farms outside Chicago, so he has no historic advantage this week.
Crooked Stick, designed by Pete Dye, has undergone several changes since it hosted the 2015 BMW Championship. Seven new bunkers were added along No. 7 and No. 10 and more than 90 bunkers were renovated. A lake was added along the left side of the 17th hole, adding to the potential for a dramatic finish with water hazards on the final three holes.