Golf’s FedExCup tees of with the Barclays on Golf Channel, CBS

The beauty of the FedExCup Playoffs is it brings the best golfers in the world together in a format similar to college basketball’s NCAA Tournament. The main difference, of course, is that there is a $10 million prize for the last golfer standing and another $25 million to split amongst the other competitors.

Yeah, you could say there’s a lot on the line. The top 123 ranked golfers will convene in Farmingdale, New York, Thursday for the first round of the four-tournament event. The Barclay’s is the first of the four tournaments, and only those ranked in the top 100 on Sunday evening will advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship (August 29). The top 70 then move on to the BMW Championship (September 6), from which only the top 30 will qualify for the Tour Championship (September 30).

The Barclays is held at the daunting par-71, 7,468-yard Bethpage Black course, site of the 2009 U.S. Open. The featured threesome of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson includes three of the top four ranked links players in the world (No. 2 Jason Dufner is not playing) and has accounted for seven PGA tour victories this year — including McIlroy’s recent win at the PGA Championship.

“I’ve played with both of them before, so that’s not going to be any surprise,” Johnson said of Woods and McIlroy in a press conference this week. “Two guys that you certainly can get caught up watching just because of the shots they can hit, shots they can hit that I can’t hit. I’m just hoping my boring golf kind of gets in the way, and that’s really what it boils down to. I like boring golf. That’s kind of what butters my bread, so to speak. I’m going to relish the opportunity because I think they’re two of the best players that I play with, certainly two of the better players that are playing right now in the world.”

The great thing about the FedExCup, though, is it features all of the world’s best players. There are many others outside that trio who will head to New York with their sights on winning the trophy, including defending champ Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell, a struggling Phil Mickelson and recent Masters winner Bubba Watson.

“I think it’ll be a tough test,” Watson admitted this week. “Unless the greens get really firm, the golf course is going to be playable, but I mean, if it gets firm and dries out and all that stuff, then yeah, it’s going to be a really tough test of golf.”

Here is the TV schedule this week:

Thursday: 3-6pm ET on Golf Channel

Friday: 3-6pm ET on Golf Channel

Saturday: 1-2:30pm on CBS; 3-6pm ET on Golf Channel

Sunday: 12-1:30pm on CBS; 2-6pm ET on Golf Channel

And here are some of the featured threesomes for the first two rounds and their tee times for Thursday (rankings amongst the top 123 golfers are in parenthesis):

8:16am ET: Tiger Woods (1), Rory McIlroy (3), Zach Johnson (4)

1:06pm ET: Bubba Watson (5), Hunter Mahan (6), Carl Pettersson (7)

8:05am ET: Keegan Bradley (8), Matt Kuchar (9), Steve Stricker (10)

12:55am ET: Ernie Els (11), Justin Rose (12), Webb Simpson (13)

7:54am ET: Phil Mickelson (14), Scott Piercy (15), Luke Donald (16)

8:05am ET: Dustin Johnson (26), Graeme McDowell (27), Marc Leishman (28)

7:54 am ET: Adam Scott (32), Sergio Garcia (33), Louis Oosthuizen (34)

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