ATLANTA (AP) — Heath Slocum was in danger of losing his PGA Tour card a month ago. Now he has a chance to win $10 million from the FedEx Cup if he were to win the Tour Championship.
His fortunes have changed. But not his priorities.
Slocum donated $40,000 on Wednesday to three charities associated with the Tour Championship. The East Lake Foundation will receive $20,000, while the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation each get $10,000.
“We’re in a good position to help out,” Slocum said. “This is something that we’ve been talking about for a while, and I’m glad that we could do that this week. There are so many great organizations that help so many people. Like I said, I’m just glad that we could even be a small part of it.”
Part of the charity is personal. Slocum has suffered from ulcerative colitis for the last 10 years. Since moving to the Atlanta area from the Florida Panhandle, he has been working with the Georgia chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation to find a cure.
The tour has been promoting its players individual charity work since launching a campaign in May called, “Together, Anything’s Possible.” Commissioner Tim Finchem said Slocum’s donation was another example.
“Here we have a player who found incredible success this year on tour and is using that success as a platform to positively impact the community in which he lives,” Finchem said.
Slocum had earned $639,815 going into the playoffs, which left him about $200,000 short of the keeping his card for next year. Then he won The Barclays and picked up $1.35 million, making him the No. 5 seed at the Tour Championship.
HINDSIGHT: Tiger Woods was jolted at the start of the playoffs to learn he could win all three playoff events, finish second at the Tour Championship and still not win the FedEx Cup.
Wednesday brought another scenario that only made him smile.
Given his five victories before the playoffs began, and a system of cumulative points until the Tour Championship, Woods could have skipped all three playoff events and still been the No. 3 seed at East Lake.
Then, all he would have had to do is win the Tour Championship.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked if he was aware that Woods could have stayed home the last month.
“No, and I’m glad he didn’t,” Finchem said. “Tiger is pretty adept at this. Tiger’s view was his best chance of winning was to play them all, and make sure he was the No. 1 seed. I think the No. 1 seed has an advantage this week. Tiger usually plays to have an advantage.”
Woods is not likely to ever miss the Deutsche Bank Championship, which benefits his foundation. He has a long history with the Western Golf Association, which runs the BMW Championship at Cog Hill, where Woods has won five times.
Even so, the idea that having a big regular season allows him to miss a playoff event raises questions about whether he’ll be at The Barclays next year.
THE GAMBLER: Jim Furyk could find himself standing over a putt worth $11 million Sunday at East Lake. That will be nothing new, except for the amount of money.
Furyk said he rarely plays any golf without something on the line – whether it’s a major championship, a winner’s check, even a soda.
“I gambled a lot as a kid, and even on the Nationwide Tour,” Furyk said. “When I was a kid, I always played for something, whether it was a dollar or a Coke. Not that I would teach kids to gamble, but I think it’s in our blood as professional golfers. You have to put something on the line when you practice. There has to be a consequence at the end.”
The typical game when he was young was a $2, and if he fell behind and pressed, the bet became $4. For a teenager, every dollar counts, and Furyk didn’t want to lose a dime.
“I stood over putts thinking this putt is either to halve or lose $2 or $4,” he said. “And it’s a lot different, obviously, than $11 million.”
EAST LAKE UPDATE: Despite a wretched forecast, East Lake featured mostly sunny skies and hot weather on Wednesday, and the course was starting to dry.
Woods said the fairways were still soft, with plenty of mud on the ball. What surprised him were the firmness of the greens, courtesy of the sub-air pump system that was whirring away during the practice round.
The combination of spongy fairways and firm greens could make it hard to score.
“Like today, we picked up quite a bit of mud on every tee shot, so you can’t be as specific on where you land the golf ball coming into the greens, so you have to be a little bit more conservative,” he said. “We’ll see how the guys play and how the guys attack it.”
Much depends on whether the tour allows players to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairways. That decision is not expected until before the first round Thursday.