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Golf News And Notes: September 3, 2011

Those Crazy Playoffs -- The unpredictability and volatility of the playoffs were on full display Friday in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Troy Matteson started this week at 97th on the FedEx Cup points list and would need a pretty solid week to move into the top 70 for the next playoff event, the BMW Championship.

Of course shooting a 6-under, 65 is more than enough to make a significant move. If he can stay in his current position, leader, Matteson would move to 4th in the playoff point's list.

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"It was kind of interesting this morning warming up," Matteson said after his round. "I would have said if I could have kept it under 80, I would have been doing pretty good. It just was not that good of a warm‑up this morning. Bogeyed my first hole right out of the gate, and that didn't really set the tone very well for the day."

Matteson would make seven bogeys over the next 17 holes and shoot his lowest round of the year.

"I think with this tournament, obviously where I'm at, if I don't play well I'm not going to play next week," Matteson said. "So I look at it like the end of the school year. The end of the school year is almost here, so let's just see what happens."

What could happen is that Matteson could win it all, which would make the FedEx Cup playoff's even more unpredictable than anyone had ever thought.

Fresh After A Week Off -– Masters champion Charl Schwartzel skipped last weeks Barclays for a little R&R in his home of South Africa. His reasoning was to be fresh coming into the playoffs. That seems to work, at least after one round shooting a 5-under, 66 and putting himself in good position for the rest of the tournament.

"I was sitting in South Africa in the sunshine and watching the guys struggle through the hurricanes and all the things happening out here," Schwartzel said. "In that sense it was maybe a good choice. But by missing an event you do put yourself a little bit on the back foot."

Schwartzel started the playoffs in 21st position and dropped to 28th after missing The Barclays. In second place after Friday's first round, Schwartzel is projected to move to 10th and with a win could move to first, making his decision to skip last week pretty well moot.

"To win the FedExCup you basically need to win one of these events, so I figured I'll take my chances in the three coming up."

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Belly Putter – When one of the perceived best putters on the PGA Tour drops the conventional putter for a belly putter, you have to believe there is something to it.

Phil Mickelson is barely in the top 50 in any of the statistical putting categories on the PGA Tour. Eighty-seventh in strokes gained, 89th in total putting, 62nd in putting average and 133rd in overall putting, Mickelson is far from his best in 2011 on the greens, so the belly made a appearance on Friday.

"I feel pretty good with it," Mickelson said of the belly putter. "I thought that I was starting them on line, and I've got to get comfortable with the speed and so forth. That's a little different. But like I say, I don't know if it's short‑term or long‑term, but right now it feels pretty good."

Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.

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