JT on outside looking in and who’s projected in/out for Wyndham Championship’s final round

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Pressure does funny things to golfers.

Just look at the players battling to earn a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs at this week’s regular season finale at the Wyndham Championship. With only the top 70 moving on to Memphis, Nos. 68 Ben Griffin and “Bubble Boy” Austin Eckroat missed the cut on Friday as did Ben Taylor, Garrick Higgo, K.H. Lee, David Lingmerth, the four players who entered the week Nos. 71-74. Meanwhile, 54-hole co-leaders Lucas Glover and Billy Horschel have zoomed from No. 112 to No. 50 and No. 116 to No. 53, respectively.

But for a true sense of how the pressure is ratcheted up at Sedgefield Country Club, here’s what two-time major champion and former world No. 1 Justin Thomas had to say.

“It’s a lot harder than trying to win a golf tournament in my opinion. I think when you’re trying to win a tournament you’re there and if you don’t win it’s a bummer, but you still had a great week kind of thing,” he said. “If I just don’t get it done for what I need to get done this week, then it sucks and my year’s over.”

Thomas entered the week at No. 79 in the FedEx Cup season-long standings, but after shooting 66 on Saturday to improve to T-11, he’s projected to finish 72nd, 19 points out of a playoff berth. He’ll need to go low again on Sunday. Even if the 54-hole co-leaders finish 1-2, Thomas could still get in with a T-7. Data Golf gives him a 30 percent chance of making the playoffs.

But to hear Thomas tell it, that isn’t even the biggest reason he’s feeling a different brand of nerves this week.

“I want to make the Ryder Cup team so bad. I mean, it’s so important to me. I mean, I legitimately would rather make the Ryder Cup than the Playoffs, which is really, really messed up to say, but it’s just the truth,” he said.“But because of that, I think that’s why I played so poorly the last month and a half or two months. Like it’s just I’m putting so much pressure on myself to play well, it’s very similar to what happened to me in 2016.”

Thomas also addressed how he will approach Sunday’s round.

“The only way I feel I would change strategy would be in a situation where I needed to birdie the last two holes or I needed to birdie 18 or something. The hope is to go play really well tomorrow and see how close to the lead we can get, and if I do that, then should be fine,” he said. “It’s very similar to Q-School. I didn’t go into the final stage of Q-School trying to finish 45th, I went there trying to win a golf tournament. If I just came up short, then it was going to be plenty to qualify. It’s a very different but somewhat similar situation here.”

With one round to go on the Tour’s 47-event regular season, here’s what the projected standings look like from Nos. 65-80.

  1. Aaron Rai MC

  2. Beau Hossler MC

  3. Cam Davis T-16

  4. Vincent Normann T-43

  5. Matt NeSmith 72

  6. J.J. Spaun T-51

  7. Ben Griffin MC

  8. Justin Thomas T-11

  9. Davis Thompson T-21

  10. Austin Eckroat MC

  11. Ben Taylor MC

  12. Garrick Higgo MC

  13. K.H. Lee MC

  14. Shane Lowry T-51

  15. David Lingmerth MC

  16. Michael Kim 6

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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