Golf’s Finest: Fed-Ex Cup Preview
By Nick Sullivan
With one event left in the PGA Tour regular season, all eyes turn towards the season-ending Fed-Ex Cup playoffs. The Fed-Ex Cup playoffs are the PGA Tour postseason that consists of four events starting August 24 and ending September 24. Throughout the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season, players have accumulated points based on their finishes in events, starting with the Safeway Open in October 2016 and ending with this week’s Wyndham Championship. The top 125 players in the Fed-Ex Cup Standings (Found here) will advance to the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs, where the points are scaled up and high finishes become extremely valuable. Every event will include a cut of players from the playoffs:
Players in Each Event
- The Northern Trust: Top 125
- Dell Technologies Championship: Top 100
- BMW Championship: Top 70
- Tour Championship: Top 30
The player who is able to navigate the playoffs and end up atop the standings after the Tour Championship will be named Fed-Ex Champion and receive the Fed-Ex Cup Trophy and the $10 million prize.
The Northern Trust
- When: August 24-August 27, 2017
- Where: Old Westbury, NY
- Host: Glen Oaks Club
- Field Size: 125
Overview: The Northern Trust, formerly known as the Barclays, is the first event in the 2017 Fed-Ex Cup playoffs. The tournament will be played at the Glen Oaks Club in Westbury, NY. The Northern Trust/The Barclays is routinely held in the state of New York and rotates through clubs such as Glen Oaks, Liberty National, and Bethpage State Park Black.
The Dell Technologies Championship
- When: September 1-4, 2017
- Where: Norton, MA
- Host: TPC Boston
- Field Size: 100
Overview: The Dell Technologies Championship returns to a familiar site in the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs at TPC Boston. TPC Boston features the iconic reachable par-5, 18th where Fed-Ex Cup dreams are either made or broken. Three Fed-Ex Cup Champions have won at TPC Boston en route to their titles: Rory Mcilroy in 2016, Henrik Stenson in 2013, and Vijay Singh in 2008.
The BMW Championship:
- When: September 14-17, 2017
- Where: Lake Forest, IL
- Host: Conway Farms Golf Club
- Field Size: 70
Overview: The BMW Championship returns to Conway Farms Golf Club in 2017 after visiting Crooked Stick in 2016. The BMW Championship determines the top-30 players that will advance to the Tour Championship and the top-5 players that control their own destiny at the Tour Championship i.e. with a win in Atlanta they would win the Fed-Ex Cup. Only Billy Horschel and Tiger Woods have won the BMW Championship and gone on to win the Fed-Ex Cup, Horschel in 2014 and Woods twice in 2007 and 2009.
The Tour Championship:
- When: September 21-24, 2017
- Where: Atlanta, GA
- Host: East Lake GC
- Field Size: 30
Overview: The Tour Championship is where everything is decided. The Fed-Ex Cup and the ten million dollar prize will be handed out at East Lake Golf Club. East Lake’s front nine and back nine are usually flipped for the Tour Championship so the 18th hole can be the daunting par-3 ninth that plays at 207 yards. Eight of the ten all time winners of the Fed-Ex Cup have won the Tour Championship to complete the “double-win” at East Lake.
The Top 10
The top 10 players in the Fed-Ex Cup standings have put themselves in the best position to win the Fed-Ex Cup. Who are they and how did they get here?
- Hideki Matsuyama: Hideki Matsuyama has risen to the top of the Fed-Ex Cup standings with 3 wins in 18 events this season, including two World Golf Championships and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Matsuyama bolstered his resume with seven top-10 finishes and top-15 finishes in all four majors, including a runner-up finish in the US Open. The 25-year-old’s highest Fed-Ex Cup finish is 13th and it came in 2016. A win and a top-5 in his last two starts makes Hideki a great choice to raise the Fed-Ex Cup in September.
- Justin Thomas: Justin Thomas comes fresh off his first major championship win heading into the Fed-Ex Cup. The rest of Thomas’s season has also been spectacular, as he boasts four wins (CIMB Classic, SBS Tournament of Champions, Sony Open in Hawaii, PGA Championship) and nine top-10s in 21 events played. JT has the most momentum heading into the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs and is poised to compete for his first Fed-Ex Cup title.
- Jordan Spieth: Jordan Spieth is the only player in the current Fed-Ex Cup top-10 who has won the Fed-Ex Cup in his career, as he won five events including the Tour Championship to seal his victory in 2015. Spieth’s win at the British Open is one of three he has on tour this season along with eight top-10s. Spieth has been solid all year and has a great chance to be in contention to win the Fed-Ex Cup on Sunday in Atlanta.
- Dustin Johnson: Dustin Johnson started out the 2016-2017 PGA Tour Season as the hottest player in the world and moved to #1 in the Official World Golf Rankings in February with his win at Riviera CC in the Genesis Open. DJ followed up his win at Genesis with wins in his next two starts at the WGC Mexico Championship and the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play Championship. However, after Johnson’s coincidental back injury the day before the Masters, the world #1 has not looked the same. He has only two top-10s in nine events since the mishap at the Masters, including no top-10s in majors.
- Rickie Fowler: Rickie Fowler has had another impressive season on the PGA Tour, boasting top-25 finishes in all four Major Championships, including top-5s at the US Open and British Open. Fowler won the Honda Classic in February to go along with nine top-10s on the year. Rickie has the best scoring average on the PGA Tour this year and is still looking for that career-defining win; perhaps it will come at the 2017 Tour Championship.
- Jon Rahm: Rahm also started hot in 2017, winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He has seven top-10s, but has been extremely quiet since a runner-up finish at the Dean & Deluca Invitational in May, playing in only 5 tour events with a best finish of T-28.
- Brooks Koepka: The 2017 US Open Champion excelled in the Majors in 2017, placing top-15 in all four. He had six total top-10 finishes, but his career-high Fed Ex Cup finish of 24th exposes his lack of experience with success in the playoffs.
- Daniel Berger: Berger is perhaps the most underrated player in the top-10 in the standings. Berger came from behind to win the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic, lost to Spieth and his heroic bunker hole-out at the Travelers Championship, and quietly tied for second at WGC-HSBC Champions back in October. He has only six top-10s this season, but is a relative sleeper to hoist the Fed-Ex Cup.
- Kevin Kisner: Kisner won the Dean & Deluca Invitational in May to go along with 11 top-25 finishes this year, but since the Memorial Tournament in early June, Kisner’s best finish came at last week PGA Championship, where he finished a disappointing T-7 after holding the 54-hole lead.
- Brian Harman: Brian Harman won the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship and tied for second at the 2017 US Open. He has 13 top-25 finishes and is fifth on tour in Strokes Gained Putting, a ranking that should help him succeed in the playoffs.
- Charley Hoffman: Hoffman is currently 11th in the Fed-Ex Cup, but many people do not consider him to be a potential contender in the playoffs. He has two runner-up finishes, coming at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the RBC Canadian Open, and 13 total top-25s on tour this season. Hoffman was also phenomenal in the Majors this season, placing eighth in the US Open and recorded top-25s in the Masters and the Open Championship. Hoffman rides momentum into the playoffs with a third place finish in WGC Bridgestone and zero missed cuts since April. He is a great sleeper pick to shock the tour and win the Fed-Ex Cup in Atlanta.
- Wesley Bryan: Wesley Bryan captured his first PGA Tour victory at the RBC Heritage in Harbour Town this season and is known to be one of the streakiest players on tour. He has not had success lately on tour, but if he has one high finish in the playoffs, he could ride the momentum all the way to Atlanta.
- Xander Schauffele: Xander has come on incredibly strong at the end of this tour season. In his last nine starts on tour he has one win at the Greenbrier Classic and four top-25s, including a top-5 at the US Open. Schauffele is one of the hottest players on tour right now and that makes him a dangerous threat to fly under-the-radar and make waves on Sunday at East Lake.
- Adam Scott: The 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott is another player nobody expects to see in the sleeper category, but he ends up here because of his 62nd Fed-Ex Cup standing. However, he is a veteran on the PGA Tour, as he has won 13 times; that experience will help him in the playoffs. Scott’s best finish this season is T-6 at the Players Championship, but he ranks 13th on tour in scoring average at 69.889.
- Branden Grace: Branden Grace rises to the occasion in big events, and the Fed-Ex Cup is yet another opportunity for him to showcase his skill. Grace has 10 wins internationally, but only one win on the PGA Tour; he is still looking for his break in the United States. Grace is a great pick in any high-stakes tournament like the Fed-Ex Cup playoff events, as he has 5 top-6 finishes in his last 12 Majors played.
The Bubble Players
Another race to watch at this week’s Wyndham Championship is the qualification for the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs. The top-125 players in the Fed-Ex Cup standings advance to the playoffs AND retain their Tour Card for the 2017-2018 PGA Tour Season. Those that finish outside the top-125 will not have full status on the PGA Tour for 2017-2018 and therefore will have to find other ways to gain their tour card, like participating in the Web.Com Tour finals. Here are the players in and out currently for the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs and other notables who have to have high finishes at the Wyndham Championship to make the postseason.
- Zac Blair
- David Hearn
- Richy Werenski
- Seamus Power
- Daniel Summerhays
- Geoff Oglivy
- Cameron Tringale
- Sam Saunders
- Ryan Palmer
- Billy Hurley III
- J.T. Poston
Other Notables Outside Top 125:
- Smylie Kaufman
- Harold Varner III
- Ben Crane
- Jim Furyk
- Boo Weekley
The Fed-Ex Cup Playoff series is the most exciting set of weeks on tour. The stakes are high and the competition is fierce, so set back and enjoy the best golf in the world.
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