PGA Tour playoffs begin Thursday

Aug. 22, 2012 at 8:38 PM
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FARMINGDALE, N.Y., Aug. 22 (UPI) -- The PGA Tour playoffs begin Thursday with newly crowned world No. 1 Rory McIlroy set for a head-to-head battle with Tiger Woods.

For the first time in a tour event, McIlroy and Woods will be paired together for the opening two rounds of The Barclays -- the first of the four tournaments that will determine the winner of the FedEx Cup and the $10 million top prize that goes with it.

McIlroy earned the No. 1 ranking with his eight-shot victory two weeks ago at the PGA Championship. Although he did not win one of the four major championships this year, the three victories for Woods have been the most on the tour in 2012 and he leads the points list which determines the FedEx Cup champ.

The top 125 players on that list are eligible for the playoffs. That number will be trimmed to 100 for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship, then to 70 for the BMW Championship and finally to 30 for the Tour Championship.

Pairings for the opening two rounds are determined by the points standings, which beginning this week have Woods in first place, Jason Dufner in second and McIlroy in third.

Dufner has chosen not to play this week, so the third member of the Woods-McIlroy pairing will be the player who is fourth in the standings -- Zach Johnson.

"I'm hoping my boring golf kind of gets in the way," Johnson said on the eve of the tournament.

The rest of the Top 10 on the points list are Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Carl Pettersson, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker.

Defending FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas starts out 21st this year. Haas jumped all the way from 25th to first during the playing of last year's Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The Barclays will be played at Bethpage State Park's Black Course, a public facility that hosted the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009. Woods won the 2002 event and Lucas Glover was the winner three years ago.

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