GOLF

FedExCup playoff race takes center stage at 3M Open

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BLAINE, Minn. – Greyson Sigg expects to make the FedExCup playoffs. It goes back to the level of self-confidence that led him to a sparkling 2020-21 season on the Korn Ferry Tour, recording two top-25 19 wins en route to Rookie of the Year honours.

He also knows that Playoff spots aren’t given, but earned, and that his attitude may have limited his potential throughout his PGA TOUR rookie season. He arrived at this week’s 3M Open at No. 126 in the FedExCup standings, one of the proverbial bubble boys in the final three events of the regular season.

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Sigg’s play this week shows a desire to get out of the bubble. He scored a third-round, 7-under 64 at TPC Twin Cities — on a mid-round weather delay of 6 hours and 38 minutes — to move into a tie for sixth place Sunday at Minnesota. That finish would project him to No. 105 in the FedExCup standings, essentially securing a Playoffs berth.

“I’m just trying not to discourage you,” Sigg said of the challenges of his TOUR rookie season, which included a streak of five straight missed cuts in May and June. “It’s a frustrating game. It’s a tough game… work on my attitude a bit, and I feel like it’s improved a lot this week too.

The 3M Open marks the PGA TOUR’s penultimate regular season event, with the FedExCup’s top 125 players at the end of the Wyndham Championship to earn playoff berths and fully exempt status on the TOUR in 2022- 23.

Several players in Sunday’s mix at TPC Twin Cities are aiming to make their way into the Playoffs, including 54-hole leader Scott Piercy. The four-time TOUR winner entered the week at No. 138 in the FedExCup rankings, having recorded five top 25 finishes so far in the season, but still looking for his first top 10.

Things seem to be falling into place at just the right time for Piercy, who entered Saturday with a three-stroke lead and carded 5-under 66 to extend that margin to four.

“It means a lot,” Piercy said of being in that position. “I struggled, and to prove and show that I can still do it is a big confidence boost.”

Some fighters are looking to make the Playoffs for the first time, like England’s Callum Tarren. After winning his first TOUR card at the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals, less than a month after the birth of his first child, Tarren didn’t make his first cut until The Honda Classic in February.

The 31-year-old has built his confidence on the results. He’s made 10 cuts in his last 15 starts, including a pair of top-six finishes, and played in Saturday’s final trio at TPC Twin Cities. He stands T13 in the final round, having entered the week at No. 144 on the FedExCup and is expected to drop to No. 134.

“It would be amazing,” Tarren said of the prospect of making the Playoffs. “It was one of my goals since the start of the season, and after eight events, missing eight cuts in a row didn’t look very promising. I always knew my game was good enough.

“I don’t watch (numbers) on the golf course, because in a hole you can go from being inside the number to being outside the number. I think a good, solid week this week will take care of things.

Others, like Doug Ghim, strive to repeat the Playoffs. The University of Texas alum won his first TOUR card in spectacular fashion via the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Finals, draining a crucial par 8-footer on the 72nd hole followed by a Tiger-esque fist pump.

Ghim, 26, missed the Playoffs in his TOUR rookie season at No. 184 on the FedExCup, but eligibility was extended for another season due to COVID-19. He capitalized on that with an 83rd-place finish at last year’s FedExCup, and he started this week ranked 117th.

Ghim notched a third-round 65 at TPC Twin Cities to move into a tie for third, which projects him to No. 84 in the FedExCup.

“It’s been very frustrating because I feel like a lot of the improvements I’ve made as a player haven’t really reflected in the FedExCup and statistically and so on,” Ghim said of his season so far. “But I know where my game is going and I knocked on the door and just maybe a bad round or a few bad holes and I just tried to be really patient.

“It’s a pretty good time of year to start finding the rhythm and start putting my name in the hat as you go. I know that’s what I was capable of all year, but it’s fun to finally be in stride at this time of year.

Every shot counts in the race for the FedExCup. At this time of year, the scarcity of opportunities only amplifies this knowledge.

“It would mean a lot,” Sigg said of the Playoffs. “I really don’t expect anything else. I have high expectations of myself and look forward to doing so in the coming weeks.

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