Friday Notes from the Barclays at Bethpage: A Fan's Take

Watney and Garcia Lead, 24 Others Within Five Shots

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Ryder Cup Preview in 2012 TOUR Championship: A Fan's Take

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On Sunday, August 19th, Sergio Garcia won the Wyndham Championship. Not only was the Wyndham his first PGA Tour victory since 2008, it also earned Sergio a spot on the European Ryder Cup team. Continuing his hot play into this week at Bethpage Black, through 36 holes he is tied for the lead with Nick Watney in The Barclays. This is one of the notes to take away from Friday's second round action.

Sergio Garcia: A professional since 1999, the 32-year-old Spaniard has more than 20 wins internationally, including eight on the PGA Tour. A win in The Barclays would give Garcia his first ever back-to-back PGA Tour victories. He has played well at Bethpage Black before, the site of this week's event, having finished in the top 10 at both the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens played there. Seen as a possible successor to Spain's Seve Ballesteros, Sergio has been an underachiever with no major championships to date. Claiming The Barclays championship would move him to #1 in the FedEx rankings, and with his first ever back-to-back victories his career could be primed for take off.

Nick Watney: A four-time winner on the PGA Tour, including two victories in 2011, Watney has not been able to finish any higher than eighth in 2012, and has not even been mentioned as a possible member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. On Thursday at Bethpage, Nick made eight birdies on the way to a 6-under score of 65, one shot behind Padraig Harrington's course record 64. On Friday he struck for four more birdies, plus an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole, but also suffered four bogeys. With 25 challengers within five shots, Nick Watney will need to get rid of the bogeys if he is to win on the weekend.

Tiger Woods: In the marquee match-up of the first two rounds at The Barclays, Woods (5-under par) brushed aside Rory McIlroy (1-under). Visibly uncomfortable during his round on Friday, which he attributed to too soft a bed, Tiger matched Watney by posting a 69 and is only three shots behind overall. If a visit to the trainer and a good night's sleep are all that his back needs, we may see his Sunday Red in the thick of the chase during the final round.

Gary Christian: A 41-year-old native of Carshalton, England, Gary Christian played college golf at Auburn University and has been a professional since 1998. With a ninth place finish on the Nationwide Tour (now Tour) money list in 2011, he finally earned his first PGA Tour card as a rookie for the 2012 season. He has shown flashes of excellent play during his rookie campaign, but has only one top 10 finish (tied for 10th in the RBC Canadian Open). Hitting fairways and greens is always a good strategy and this week Christian is in the top five in both of those categories, posting an opening round score of 5-under 66 on Thursday, followed by a 71 on Friday. A win in The Barclays would change Gary Christian's life forever.

Two Groups to Watch on Saturday:

At 1:05 p.m., Gary Christian and Tiger Woods, with all the attention that a Woods' group always receives. Not exactly throwing a Christian to the lions, but I'll be interested to see how Gary holds up.

At 1:45 p.m. the leaders, Nick Watney and Sergio Garcia will begin. I look for Sergio to continue to play well and post another score in the 60s.

There are, of course, many other professionals who may win this tournament including: Hall of Fame member, Vijay Singh, only one shot behind; and 2012 Rookie John Huh, a one-time winner, within three shots. I look forward to yet another exciting finish to what has been a very enjoyable PGA season, whoever lifts the trophy on Sunday, August 26th.

Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 50 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest golfer of all time.


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