Lowdown: The 2010 FedEx Cup playoffs get underway this week with The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey. Heath Slocum defends the title while Tiger Woods defends the FedEx Cup itself.

The top 125 players from the regular PGA Tour season are eligible to take part in The Barclays and they’ll all be looking to make it into the top 100 in order to progress to the second playoff event next week – the Deutsche Bank Championship. Scott Piercey was the man who made it right on the cut line. He secured the 125th spot with a tied eighth finish at the Wyndham Championship last week.

After taking a trip to Liberty National Golf Club in 2009, The Barclays is returning to Ridgewood Country Club this season. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast and opened for play in 1929, Ridgewood has been the venue for many prestigious events over the years. In 1935 the New Jersey club welcomed the Ryder Cup, in 1990 the US Senior Open was contested at Ridgewood and, in 2001, it was the site of the Senior PGA Championship.

At last season’s Barclays, Heath Slocum edged out an illustrious quartet by a single shot. The American finished one clear of Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods.

Tiger has had a rough ride since returning to the game following difficulties in his private life. The news that he and Elin Nordegren have now divorced will do little to help his chances of defending the FedEx Cup title. All eyes, including those of US Ryder Cup captain will be on Woods this week to see if he can put off-course issues aside and get back to playing the golf he’s capable of.

Europe will be strongly represented this week with Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington all on the start sheet.

Venue: Ridgewood Country Club, New Jersey
Date: Aug 26-29
Course stats: par 71, 7,304 yards
Purse: $7,500,000 Winner: $1,300,000
Defending Champion: Heath Slocum (-9)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
Sunday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 5pm

Player Watch:
Paul Casey – The Englishman will have to rely on a Captain’s pick to gain a Ryder Cup place and a good performance here might be enough to secure Monty’s vote. He’ll be giving it everything as a result.

Matt Kuchar – The American has been on solid form of late and has been knocking on the door of a significant victory in 2010, he was halfway leader at Whistling Straits. This could be the tournament he steps up.

Rory McIlroy – The Northern Irishman has the potential to win any tournament he enters at the moment and would love to come out on top in a field featuring many of the world’s best players.

Key hole: 17th. A par 5 of nearly 600 yards, this is a hole full of possibilities. It’s a dog-leg to the left with thick rough and trees waiting on the right side. On approach the ball must be fired up to the small, sloping green protected by dangerous bunkering.

Skills required: Patience. This is not a course that the players can be overly aggressive on. The key will be to keep the ball in play and plot a sensible route around the layout.