Golf - Thick rough greets players as PGA Tour playoffs begin
(Reuters) - The nasty U.S. Open-style rough will place a premium on accuracy at the Northern Trust players said on Wednesday as they prepared for the first event of the lucrative PGA Tour playoff series.
The Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury hosts the tournament, which is the first of four in the FedExCup series that culminates with the Tour Championship. The winner of the season-long points race will pick up a $10 million bonus.
"It's a big-hitters golf course, wider fairways with extremely thick rough and big greens," British Open champion Jordan Spieth said about the course on New York's Long Island.
"You need a bit of everything. I would look for lower scores, just because the areas around the greens aren't too bad.
"There are a lot of mown runoffs where you can putt or it's a little easier to chip from. This rough's pretty nasty but there's not a ton of it around the greens."
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan heads the points starting the playoffs, with 125 players qualifying for the first event.
The field is then cut to 100 for the second event, 70 for the third, and 30 for the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott are among five eligible players skipping the Northern Trust, leaving a field of 120.
Rory McIlroy, however, will play the series despite earlier having said he would have three months off at the end of the year to recuperate a nagging back injury. McIlroy won the FedExCup last year.
World number one Dustin Johnson also said he felt the course for the opening tournament would be a challenge.
"I think it's going to play pretty tough," he said.
"Fairways are generous but you have to hit the fairways (because) the rough is gnarly."
Johnson, fourth in the standings, has set a goal of being in the top five entering the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
All 30 players there will have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup, but the top five will control their own fate because winning the tournament will also ensure victory in the points race.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)