LUMBERTON — William McGirt is taking a walk down memory lane at New Jersey’s Plainfield Country Club today as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin.
As a rookie on the PGA Tour in 2011, the Fairmont native made his first appearance on the course after claiming the last spot in the 125-player field playoffs.
McGirt made the most the opportunity, finishing in a tie for 24th at The Barclays to advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship — the second leg of the four-tournament playoffs.
“This is my second time (at Plainfield CC),” McGirt told the Robesonian on Wednesday. “I came in at No. 125 (in 2011), played well and advanced to Boston the next week. I have some good memories.”
McGirt is looking to recapture some of that first-season magic as he prepares for his fifth straight playoff appearance.
Paired with Chad Campbell and Will Wilcox, McGirt was set to tee off at 7:31 a.m. today on hole No. 10 of the 7,012-yard par-70 course. The winner receives 2,000 FedEx Cup points.
Each $8-million tournament offers quadruple points relative to PGA Tour regular season events, featuring a progressive cut, beginning with The Barclays (125 players). The top 100 players in the standings advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and the top 70 advance to the BMW Championship in Illinois.
In the final leg of the tournament, a reset takes place, seeding the top-30 players to compete in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola in Atlanta, where the FedEx Cup Champion will hoist the trophy.
After finishing in a tie for 14th at the Wyndham Championship, McGirt is pleased with his game heading in, but knows there’s still work to be done.
“Things are feeling pretty good with my game,” said McGirt, who currently sits 74th in the FedEx Cup standings. “… still working hard on the putting.”
With dry conditions and temperatures expected to be in the low 90s, McGirt is preparing for the course’s greatest defense: firm greens.
“This week will be different because the severity of the greens,” he said. “They are very slow uphill and extremely fast downhill because the the amount of slope in the greens. The course is much drier this year, the rough is much deeper and thicker, and they also converted a par 5 into a par 4 this year.”
The key, McGirt says, is a solid approach to those greens.
“Some holes have very limited pin placements, therefore second-shot placement is important,” he said. “The penalty for missing in the wrong spot will be severe.”
But that doesn’t affect his confidence heading into the tournament.
“Things will be a little different, but I feel pretty good about it.”
McGirt finished in a tie for 5th last season at The Barclays, posting scores of 68, 71, 68 and a final-round 66 at Ridgewood Golf Course. The finish helped McGirt advance all the way to the third leg of the playoffs, where his run ended at the BMW Championship with a 65th place finish.
Hunter Mahan won The Barclays last season by closing with a 7-under-par 65 to finish at 14 under par for the tournament.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.