1. Playoffs in 10th season: Four-week playoff going from 125 players to 100 to 70 to 30 competing for $34 million plus a $10 million bonus for FedExCup winner is major success.
2. Rio regrets: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all skipped Rio Olympics but admitted it gave golf a boost and they hope to play 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
3. Ryder Cup buildup: The Barclays represents the last chance for U.S. and European players to gain points to automatically make their Ryder Cup teams, adding another layer of pressure.
4. The weather: Memories of rain-soaked 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black still haunt, but the forecast calls for mostly sunny weather and enough wind to dry course and make it even tougher.
5. Bethpage fan favorite Phil Mickelson: New York fans pull loudly for Mickelson, who hasn’t won this year but was a close second to Henrik Stenson in British Open, was T-2 in 2009 U.S. Open here.
1. Jason Day: World No. 1 has three wins, three top-10s in majors, ranks 11th from tee to green and is first in putting.
2. Dustin Johnson: World No. 2 has two wins, including U.S. Open, is first in driving distance (313.9), was T-3 here in 2012.
3. Henrik Stenson: Hot with wins at BMW International Open, British Open, Olympic silver medal, was 9th here in 2009 U.S. Open.
4. Jordan Spieth: Has struggled with driving accuracy and putter has misbehaved lately, but relatively flat greens might help him find form.
5. Rory McIlroy: Former No. 1 switched putters, leads PGATour in shots gained off tee, T-10 in 2009 U.S. Open, T-24 in 2012 Barclays here.
THE DARK HORSES
1. Russell Knox: Scotsman is 4th in FedExCup standings, won last at Travelers Championship, is fighting to make European Ryder Cup team.
2. Graeme McDowell: Coming off T-5 at Wyndham Championship, hoping to be European captain’s pick, T-18 in 2009 U.S. Open here.
3. Bubba Watson: T-7 in Olympics, ranks 3rd in strokes gained off tee, 4th in driving distance, has T-10 in 2012 Barclays, T-18 in 2009 U.S. Open.
4. J.B. Holmes: Has missed 3 straight cuts, but needs good showing to secure Ryder Cup spot, T-19 in 2012 Barclays, T-27 in 2009 U.S. Open.
5. Ricky Barnes: Experience on Bethpage Black is big, and was T-2 in 2009 U.S. Open, T-24 in 2012 Barclays, can move up from 66th in FedExCup.
BETHPAGE BLACK: THE TEST OF CHAMPIONS
Jordan Spieth after seeing Bethpage Black for first time: “The course I’ve played the past two days is up there with the hardest top five courses I’ve played in my life, and it’s Tuesday and Wednesday and it was soft. They grow the rough up here more than usual. It’s a fair test, though. You’ve got to be able to carry the ball a good 275 yards or more off the tee, but premium on [hitting] the fairways.”
Jason Day: “We’re playing a very difficult golf course, U.S. Open-style course, very long. They have had some rain, and with warm temperatures, things are going to grow and get obviously difficult as the week goes on.”
Justin Rose: “It’s a great golf course, a long golf course. Ball-striking gets rewarded here. It’s going to be a good test, which is what Bethpage is all about. It’s got that reputation — ‘Beware’ or ‘Warning’ — or whatever that famous sign says.”