FARMINGDALE, N.Y — With the best regular season of his PGA Tour career in the books, William McGirt enters the FedEx Cup playoffs looking to add another first to his growing list of accomplishments.
Currently 16th in the standings entering the four-tournament series, the 37-year-old Fairmont native is poised to get to the season-ending, 30-player Tour Championship for the first time in his six-season career.
He’s made the playoffs for the sixth straight time and has advanced to the BMW Championship, the third leg of the playoffs, the past two seasons.
With a $10 million prize at stake over the next four events, The Barclays is the first step, starting Thursday at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course.
Bethpage Black has hosted a pair of U.S. Opens and last hosted The Barclays in 2012, when McGirt earned a tie for 10th. He missed the cut in the event last season and earned a tie for fifth in 2014.
The playoffs feature a progressive cut through the first three events to determine the final 30 players who qualify for Atlanta. The Barclays opens with 125 players and ties, followed by the Deutsche Bank Championship with 100 players and ties and the BMW Championship with 70 players and ties.
In the final leg of the tournament, a reset takes place, seeding the top-30 players to compete at East Lake.
But this week serves as the final step for Ryder Cup hopefuls — in a way.
The Barclays will be the final event where U.S. players can control their own destiny by moving into the top 8 of the Ryder Cup standings on points without needing a captain’s pick from U.S. captain Davis Love III.
McGirt is currently 17th in the standings.
If an American wins this week, he will collect 1,485 points for the effort, which means a lot of guys currently outside the top 8, but inside the top 20, still have a chance to play their way onto the team.
Three of the captain picks will be handed out after the BMW Championship, and the final pick not until after the Tour Championship.
Paired with PGA champion Jimmy Walker and Olympic bronze-medalist Matt Kuchar, McGirt will start the journey Thursday at 12:44 p.m. from the opening tee box of the 7,468-yard, par-71 course. The trio will tee off from the 10th hole at 8:04 a.m. Friday.
The winner receives 2,000 FedEx Cup points.
Top-ranked Jason Day is the defending champion at this event. He tees off with fellow major winners Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott at 8:26 a.m. Thursday.
Reigning FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth tees off to defend his title at 1:06 p.m. alongside Russell Knox and Brandt Snedeker.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.