A decade in, it’s not as though the PGA Tour’s postseason needs validation, at least not to those who pull the strings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
In May, FedEx re-upped to sponsor the season-long race with a new 10-year deal, and the circuit is well downrange with a plan to condense the season and playoffs in order to finish before football overtakes the sporting landscape.
But in the event a refresher was necessary, Sunday at the Dell Technologies Championship was a testament to what playoff golf can do for the game for those not already lost to the first weekend of meaningful football.
Last week, Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth dueled down the stretch at the playoff opener on Long Island, with DJ taking the title in overtime.
This week is shaping up to be a similar clash of the game’s biggest and brightest.
Justin Thomas, who closed the major championship season with a victory at the PGA Championship, moved into the lead with an 8-under 63, cruising past second-round leader Jon Rahm and into a familiar position.
What’s next? Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler squaring off at the BMW Championship in two weeks? Mickelson and Rahm head-to-head at the finale? The possibilities are endless.
This is nothing new to 2017. The list of champions at the TPC Boston stop includes Fowler, Mickelson and Rory McIlroy (twice).
While playoff golf has never been a perfect fit for a game that counts the majors above all else, consider Sunday’s third-round leaderboard at TPC Boston. Labor Day will feature a cast that includes Thomas, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Jordan Spieth, Fowler and Mickelson all within five strokes of the lead. And as we learned last week at The Northern Trust, when Spieth squandered the same margin, five shots is akin to a dead heat in the postseason.
“I just think that we treat these four events and Atlanta as a major,” Thomas said. “We are trying to be peaking at this time. We are trying to be peaking come Atlanta. We try to take time off before the majors. I took a week off before the playoffs to try to get my game ready to get rested and kind of get going.”