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Woods set to cap season with pot-of-gold payoff
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Tiger Woods gets one final chance to make a big splash on the 2009 season as he is one of five players who control their own destiny at the Tour Championship.

Woods, who is winless in majors this year, is taking a steady, methodical approach to the four-day event which includes a $1.35 million winner's purse and a $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.

"There are a lot things at stake," said Woods on Wednesday. "There are a lot of scenarios that could pan out. But you play well and you win and you take care of everything else."

All of the 30 players in the elite field, which will decided the FedEx Cup series champion, have a mathematical chance of winning but the top five control their own destinies.

Woods, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum are the top seeds in the tournament which kicks off Thursday.

The drama could come down to the final putt on No 18.

"I'm sure you would be just as nervous over that putt to win a tournament for a million dollars as to win a tournament for $11 million," Stricker said. "The nerves are going to be shot any way."

The East Lake Golf Club course has been battered by rain the past week but Woods said it is in surprisingly good shape.

"I just played nine holes and was surprised how playable it is," said Woods, who is paired with Stricker.

Woods has had a decent season so far with six wins but a FedEx Cup victory would help ease the sting of no major championships.

"This year I won on some pretty good golf courses against some pretty good fields," Woods said. "Most of my victories came on some of the most difficult courses.

"Major championships are the biggest events and I didn't win any of the four. But as far as the season goes it has been one of the most consistent seasons I have ever had."

Ireland's Padraig Harrington is seeded sixth and has the best chance to win outside of the top five seeds. He struggled this year but stepped up his play just in time for the FedEx series.

"I am in as good a position as I could be," Harrington said. "I played good golf the past few weeks and don't feel like I left anything behind.

"If I can play well in the FedEx Cup and finish season off with a win I would be able to look back at this year as a very positive one.

"I wasn't able to say that two months ago. It was pretty miserable at that stage and possibly one of those years you just have to write off. The FedEx Cup has given me the opportunity to change that around."

Not in the field this year is Vijay Singh who won the $10 million prize last year.

Other notables who didn't make it are Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and Ian Poulter.

Johnson, who can collect the $10 million bonus if he wins, says he is ready for anything, especially when it comes to the weather.

"I am excited for the week," Johnson said. "I got one pair of rain pants but I might have to get some more."

Even 30th seeded John Senden could win the FedEx Cup but for that to happen the Aussie would have to win and have Woods finish in last place.

(AFP via China Daily September 25, 2009)

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