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FedEx Cup: Where a week can change everything

NORTON, Mass. — Stuart Appleby knows how one week can change everything during the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Geoff Ogilvy can only hope he’s next.

Ogilvy was the 100th and final player to get into the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of four playoff events. He’s a long shot to get to the next tournament, and the odds are even longer for him to reach the Tour Championship in Atlanta for a shot at the $10 million. But at least he’s playing.

“I can still win the FedEx Cup sitting here right now,” Ogilvy said Thursday. “I’m sure I’m the longest shot there is in the field — statistically — but everyone still can. You’ve just got get to that last one. So I’m still in it.”

Appleby had not come close to winning all year. He had two top 10s, but never started the final round closer than five shots at any tournament. He was No. 98 when the FedEx Cup playoffs began last week at The Barclays. He opened with a 73 and was outside the cut line, one round away from the end of his season.

He strung together three good rounds, closed with a 65 to tie for second and look him at now. Because the points are worth five times the value as the regular season, Appleby vaulted 79 spots to No. 19. If he can stay in the top 30 the next two weeks — and the odds are in his favor — he will be at East Lake for the Tour Championship and get into all four majors for the first time in five years.

“It’s certainly given me a large spike in ranking," said Appleby, "and it’s given me much more of a dream to get back to Atlanta to play the Tour Championship, which enables a lot more golf events to select from. And that’s been a plan of mine — to get back into the cool crowd.

“I still have a bit of work to do yet.”

That’s what these playoffs are all about. Golf typically has only one winner each week. The FedEx Cup can make the losers feel like winners.

The Deutsche Bank Championship begins today and ends on Labor Day, with the top 70 advancing to the third playoff event next week in Denver. This the shortest field ever with only 93 players. Four players are taking the week off for various reasons, two are injured (Jason Dufner and Tim Clark) and Dustin Johnson is on “voluntary leave.”

Hunter Mahan is coming off a win at The Barclays that moved him from No. 62 to No. 1 in the standings, and might have made it impossible for Tom Watson to ignore him when he selects his three picks for the Ryder Cup on Tuesday.

Web.com

Jason Allred got off to a fantastic start but had to settle for an even-par 72 to finish tied for 76th after opening-round play in the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first of four events in the Web.com Tour Finals.

Ryan Blaum shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 to take the lead at Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Allred birdied four of his first six holes but three bogeys on the back nine left him with five birdies and five bogeys overall.

The top 25 players on the Web.com Tour money list earned PGA Tour cards last week. They are competing against each other for PGA Tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals and the final leader getting a spot in The Players Championship.

The rest of the players — Nos. 26-75 on Web.com money list and Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings — are fighting for another 25 cards based on earnings in the series.

LPGA

I.K. Kim birdied the first four holes on the back nine and finished with a 7-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the Portland Classic under ideal conditions at Columbia Edgewater.

The South Korean player birdied seven of the first 13 holes and closed her afternoon round with five straight pars. Amelia Lewis and Jennifer Song were a shot back at 66.

Defending champion Suzann Pettersen shot 71 to join Gigi Stoll, a senior at Beaverton High School who won the Portland Classic Amateur Open last week to earn a spot in the field.