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FedEx Cup finale gets underway at East Lake

ATLANTA (AP) — In just 86 events on the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy has collected nearly $23 million in career earnings.

So what’s a $10 million bonus from winning the FedEx Cup?

“I don’t think it will make me any more nervous on the golf course on Sunday,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “But $10 million is a lot of money to anyone. It’s a nice bit of extra money to have for whatever that may be.”

Bubba Watson said he’d give $1 million to a charity immediately, and then he added with a smile, “Retirement would happen a lot quicker if I won the FedEx Cup.”

That prompted a question to Billy Horschel: Would you like to see Watson win the FedEx Cup?

“I could say something right now and not be very good,” Horschel said with a laugh.

Just about everyone was in good spirits on the eve of the Tour Championship, the final of a four-week sprint to the biggest bonus in golf. Considering that the last four FedEx Cup champion won the Tour Championship, the Sunday payoff could be upward of $11.4 million.

Here are some things that mark the end of a long year on the PGA Tour:

THE BIG FIVE: The points have been reset for the Tour Championship to give all 29 players a mathematical chance to win the FedEx Cup. The lower a player is in the standings, the greater the odds. The top five seeds only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup.

Chris Kirk is the top seed. He started the playoffs at No. 10 and won the Deutsche Bank Championship. Billy Horschel tied for second at the Deutsche Bank and won the BMW Championship, putting him at No. 2. The other three are Watson, McIlroy and Barclays winner Hunter Mahan.

THE HISTORY: There’s two ways to look at the seven-year history of the FedEx Cup winners.

Five of the seven winners began the FedEx Cup playoffs among the top 10 seeds. The lowest who went on to win the cup was Brandt Snedeker who was No. 19 in 2012.

But it’s all about the Tour Championship. Five of the seven champions were among the top five seeds, including three who were No. 1 (Tiger Woods twice and Vijay Singh).

The lowest seed going into the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup was Bill Haas at No. 25 in 2011. Perhaps that will bode well for Geoff Ogilvy, who is No. 25 on the strength of 27 holes that he played in 12-under par at the TPC Boston.

THE LONGSHOT: Gary Woodland is at No. 29 and mathematically has a chance to win the cup.

But do the math.

Woodland starts with 220 points. He would need to win the Tour Championship. Kirk would have to finish 27th in the 29-man field. Horschel would have to finish seventh or worse. Watson would have to finish fifth or worse. McIlroy would have to finish fourth or worse.

It could happen. But it starts with Woodland winning, which he hasn’t done all year. And it includes Kirk finishing toward the bottom of the pack.

THE FIELD: This is the smallest field — 29 players — since the FedEx Cup began in 2007. Dustin Johnson began the playoffs at No. 6 and didn’t play a single event. He only dropped to No. 30, and there are no alternates in the playoffs.

For the first time since 2006, the Tour Championship does not include Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson. Woods had a back injury most of the year and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. Mickelson failed to win a tournament for the first time in 11 years and only qualified for the third playoff event.

Ten players at East Lake have not won a PGA Tour event all season. The group includes Jim Furyk (No. 7), Rickie Fowler (No. 9) and Jordan Spieth (No. 11).

THE OTHER CUP: The season won’t end for 14 players at East Lake. They have another cup to play for in a few weeks, this one paying nothing at all.

The Ryder Cup is Sept. 26-28 in Scotland.

Ten Americans (everyone but Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley)and four Europeans (McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose) will be in the Ryder Cup. Among those who were not selected for the team were Kirk and Horschel, who are Nos. 1 and 2 in the FedEx Cup.

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