How did Watney win The Barclays?
And why do our experts think Jason Day will advance to the BMW?
The playoffs got off to a rousing start with Nick Watney's impressive victory in The Barclays at Bethpage Black.
So what other implications resulted from the FedEx Cup playoff opener? And which American made the best case for a Ryder Cup captain's pick?
Our experts analyze all that and more in our latest edition of Monday Four-Ball.
1. What did Nick Watney do better than everyone else to win the PGA Tour's playoff opener?
Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: He hit greens. He ranked second for the week in greens in regulation, hitting 75 percent for four days and with that made more birdies than anyone else (23). Even with all the 3-putts he had Sunday, he still said it's the best he's putted all year. That says something about his attitude. Still, if you miss greens, it won't matter how happy you might be.
Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Watney hit 17 of 18 greens in the final round when he needed to play near-error-free golf.
Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: At least in his own case, he putted better. Watney all but said so himself, the flat stick somewhat holding him back in a so-so year. Putting lessons from Long Island club pro Darrell Kestner were cited by Watney as a big key in his victory.
Ian O'Connor, ESPNNewYork.com columnist: Survive. That's what you had to do at Bethpage, just survive your mistakes on the baked greens and hope the other guy makes more of them. Watney shot 2-under 69 on a day when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia were a combined 14 over. That's what you call a deserving winner.
2. Which American made the best case for a Ryder Cup captain's pick?
Michael Collins: Of course it's Dustin Johnson. His play of late since his time off earlier in the year, short of a win, has been solid. He hasn't missed a cut since the U.S. Open, which was a week after his win at Memphis. And since the Memorial, when he's played the weekend (eight times) he's finished outside the top 19 only three times. Nothing will deflate a guy and a team more than an opponent who can bomb it 25 yards past you, then make birdies from anywhere and everywhere. He's 157th in driving accuracy but 13th in scoring average. No one wants to play against him in match play.
Farrell Evans: Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson and Nick Watney would all make my team. But if I had to just pick one of them, I would go with Snedeker because of his T-3 at the Open Championship.
Bob Harig: Brandt Snedeker. It wasn't just the second-place finish, but a number of nice putts. If Davis Love III picks Snedeker, who has never played in a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, it would likely be due to his proficiency on the greens, a typical American sore spot at the Ryder Cup.
Ian O'Connor: Dustin Johnson. Shot 68 on a day when 68 felt like 65, and let's face it, he's got the most talent and athleticism among the field of candidates for Davis Love III to pick from.
3. First Jason Dufner skips The Barclays, now Sergio Garcia is taking a pass on the Deutsche Bank Championship. What should the PGA Tour do, if anything, about top-tier players skipping the playoff tournaments?
Michael Collins: The only way to force guys to play every event is to make the "penalty" for skipping an event so severe the risk is not worth the reward. Like resetting the points after every event so there is a different cost between missing the cut and skipping. But I don't see it happening because Ryder Cup years force the week off to be before the Tour Championship instead of after the Deutsche Bank. That means guys such as Sergio Garcia, who played their way in by playing late events, are hurt and almost have to (if they can) take a week off if they're going make a run at the FedEx Cup and play the Ryder Cup.
Farrell Evans: The PGA Tour can't mandate that its members play in any tournament. What the tour can do going forward, however, is try to work with the PGA of America so that in the future, the Tour Championship doesn't come the week before the Ryder Cup. These players want to be as fresh as possible for the biennial matches.
Bob Harig: Short of adopting a rule that says you have to play in order to advance, there is nothing the tour can do. It would be hypocritical to have a year-long system that allows players to pick and choose where they play, but then force them to tee it up in the playoffs. One other idea, perhaps, is to decrease the number of playoff events from four to three. This is a lot of golf in a short period of time.
Ian O'Connor: The PGA Tour needs to junk the entire system and establish a format in which no points are carried over from the regular season. Start the top 125 from scratch at The Barclays and make it a real playoff. Only the top 100, 70 and 30 players from each round advance, and if a player skips Round 1, his season is over. Last time I checked, the 1998 Yankees won 114 games and didn't get to pull a Dufner in the Division Series.
4. Give us a player who is outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup points list who will play his way into next week's BMW Championship.
Michael Collins: Jason Day. Started The Barclays ranked 113th and going to Deutsche Bank he's now 88th. He's coming off a Sunday 66 and going to a course he loves. I think not only will he play BMW but we'll see him in Atlanta for the Tour Championship, too.
Farrell Evans: Jason Day. The 24-year-old Australian hasn't had a great year, but he did finish in a tie for third last year in Boston. At 88th in the playoff standings, he needs another great week in Beantown to stamp his ticket to Crooked Stick. Day shot 66 in the final round of The Barclays to get a tie for 24th.
Bob Harig: Jason Day. He jumped well into the top 100 with a final-round 66 at Bethpage Black. Now he needs another strong week to move from 88th into the top 70.
Ian O'Connor: Jason Day. A much bigger talent than his 88th-place standing would suggest. Shot a remarkable 66 on Sunday. Wouldn't be surprised at all if he contended at the Deutsche Bank Championship.
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