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Phil Mickelson kept alive his streak as the only player to be among the top 10 seeds in every year of the FedEx Cup. He is at No. 6 this year, and he has listed winning the cup as one of his goals.

The change can be found more toward the bottom, where Els has plenty of company.

Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion, nearly missed the playoffs. He closed with a 68 last week to tie for 47th. He then had to wait some two hours to see if it would be enough to qualify for the postseason. He barely made it, finishing at No. 124.

He studied accounting in college, so the Irishman knew how close he came to missing out. And yes, he already has done the math at The Barclays, figuring he needs to be in the top 30 at Plainfield to be among the top 100 players who move on to Boston next week.

Much like Els, he sees only opportunity.

“I’m of the opinion that I’m in a great position going into this, that I’m just like every other guy,” Harrington said. “In order to win the FedEx Cup, you’re going to have to win one of the first three events, and the last event. I’ve got nearly the same chance as anybody else of winning this outright. I just need to perform a little bit quicker than other guys.”

Some of that is misleading, some of that is true.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen has been among the top 24 seeds the last two years. Now he’s at No. 101, meaning his season will end if he misses the cut, or perhaps if he finishes toward the bottom of the pack.

His hopes are not as great, mainly because of a freak accident on his way to New Jersey.

Before leaving home in Orlando, Fla., Goosen watched the track of Hurricane Irene. Just in case it turned toward Florida, he decided to push his boat into the garage. The front wheel of the boat trailer went over his right toe.

“It went blue instantly,” Goosen said. “I had X-rays and they said it was a fracture. But I don’t think it is. It’s not as sore as it should be. But all the other toes are getting sore now because I’m walking funny.”

Indeed, it will be an uphill climb this week at Plainfield.

“You just have to go for it, move up as much as you can as quickly as you can,” Goosen said. “When you’re in the top 20, you know you’re playing well. When you’re 101, you know you’re not playing well, and you come into this event not as confident as you’d like to be.”

And then there are players such as Rod Pampling, who aren’t sure what to think.

One year, when the points system was too volatile, Pampling started at No. 33, missed the cut in the first two events and failed to be among the top 70 who advanced to the third round in Chicago. He has started much lower, at No. 98, and didn’t last more than two weeks.

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