Now that we're into the FedExCup Playoffs, the objective is simple. Whatever your game, save starts for a short list of studs for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Because the number of choices for all gamers is reduced after each of the first three events, crossover will increase, so go ahead and take a risk or two now. You're more likely for it to pay off at Liberty National for this week's Barclays since many in the field are seeing it for the first time. And even those with experience (2009) may attest to playing a measurably different track.
Look for my four choices for The Barclays in PGATOUR.COM’s fantasy game in Expert Picks. My one-and-done selection, analysis and season totals will appear in the TOUR Report on Wednesday.
On a Roll
Harris English (19th in FedExCup) ... Seems to have rolled with success just fine following his breakthrough at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He's 6-for-6 since with three top 15s.
Patrick Reed (22nd) ... Casual golf fans may not realize that he was trending toward his breakthrough victory at last week's Wyndham Championship. It was his fourth top 10 (and fifth top 20) in seven starts.
Jonas Blixt (29th) ... Took last week off following a career-best solo fourth at the PGA Championship where he ranked T3 in scrambling and T1 in par-4 scoring average. Just six weeks removed from his victory at The Greenbrier Classic.
Michael Thompson (39th) ... Not prone to trends but placed T21 at Firestone and T22 at Oak Hill in his last two starts. In his last seven, he has four top 25s and missed three cuts.
Scott Piercy (50th) ... Sniped a T5 at Oak Hill with a field-low 65 in the finale. Four top 10s and another four top 25s this season.
Gary Woodland (60th) ... His only blemish in the last five months is a withdrawal at the Travelers Championship, but that was due to a back injury suffered on a cross-country flight. Since, he picked off his second career PGA TOUR victory (Reno-Tahoe Open). Only time he previously qualified for the Playoffs (2011), he advanced to the finale.
John Huh (65th) ... Roared back from an 0-for-4 slide with a T3 at the Wyndham Championship where he shared the 54-hole lead with eventual winner Patrick Reed. Huh spun a career-low 62 in the second round at Sedgefield.
Marc Leishman (69th) ... Sets up as a potential coup. After sharing 12th at the PGA Championship, his wife gave birth to the couple's second child earlier this week. Missed the cut at the 2009 Barclays, but if the wind blows, he'll demand our attention.
Brian Harman (80th) ... Fresh off a career-best T3 at the Wyndham Championship after which you could hear in his voice that he knew that the tournament could have been his. That's a good kind of disappointment and occurred on the heels of a T11 in Reno.
Brendan Steele (81st) ... May be evolving into the chic, off-the-radar investment that could carry gamers who are chasing. After an 0-for-6 slump, he's survived six of his last seven cuts with four top 20s, including a T11 at Sedgefield where he ranked second in strokes gained-putting, T3 in par breakers and sixth in par-4 scoring.
Horses for Courses
David Lynn (54th) ... Fearless, whimsical choice with deadly short game. Sits 22nd in strokes gained-putting, 26th in proximity to the hole from the rough and 41st in scrambling. Tied for 22nd at Oak Hill, too.
Ian Poulter (70th) ... The greenside wizard flourished with a T9 at Liberty National in 2009. Flashed that skill set again at Muirfield (T3) last month.
Richard H. Lee (84th) ... Making his debut in the FedExCup Playoffs. Ranks 25th on TOUR in fairways hit, T44 in greens in regulation, 13th in strokes gained-putting and seventh in scrambling. Also first in par-3 scoring (2.96). A wonderful and likely inexpensive complement in deeper formats at Liberty National.
Not So Fast
Brandt Snedeker (3rd) ... A calculated fade based on recent form. He'll become the first reigning FedExCup champion to return to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, so there's time to wait until he's found a groove.
Justin Rose (7th) ... In a sense, his inclusion here is a compliment as expectations are higher than ever as the U.S. Open champion. He’s reliable for pools in which you’ll ride him throughout the Playoffs, but he’s 145th on the PGA TOUR in strokes gained-putting (or 16th-worst in this week’s field) and that makes him a moderate risk in weekly games. Save him for the back half when there are no cuts.
Graeme McDowell (28th) ... A T12 at Oak Hill where he closed with a 66 bodes favorably for more success, but his trending in advance of it allows gamers to sit on their hands for at least one week given the depth of the talent pool at Liberty National. Keep in mind that he's yet to record a top 30 in five starts during the Playoffs.
Luke Donald (55th) ... His worst Playoff starting position in FedExCup history, even when he didn't play in 2008 (44th) due to surgery on his left wrist. Because he's missed three of his last four cuts on the PGA TOUR, he begins this year's edition as a high risk-high reward option.
Nick Watney (63rd) ... Tied for sixth at Liberty National in 2009, but had been flashing better form at the time. He arrives this week without a top 20 in 10 consecutive starts, six of which resulting in a missed cut.
John Senden (105th) ... Hasn't put four rounds together arguably all year. Best finish among three top 25s is a T15 at the U.S. Open where he closed 74-74. However, all three times he's advanced to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, he started outside the top 30 in FedExCup points.
Jimmy Walker (26th) ... Doesn't seem possible that he'd land here but he's missed his last three cuts and five of his last six. Hasn't experienced that kind of futility since he closed out 2010 with a similar run.
Charles Howell III (27th) ... His disqualification at the midpoint of the Wyndham Championship goes in the books officially as his seventh straight start without a top 25. He's finished outside the top 50 nine of 12 times during the first two legs of the FedExCup Playoffs. That includes a T70 at Liberty National in 2009.
Freddie Jacobson (66th) ... No better than a T30 at the Travelers Championship in his last seven starts, four of which resulted in a missed cut.
Derek Ernst (74th) ... Hasn't cracked a top 40 in four cuts made in 11 starts since his playoff victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. The 500 FedExCup points he earned for the win account for 83.6 percent of his total.
Kevin Stadler (87th) ... Zero top 25s among five cuts made in his last 11 starts.
Pat Perez (89th) ... Mired in an 0-for-3 skid for the first time in two-and-a-half years. Missed the cut at the 2009 Barclays and hasn't recorded a top 10 in his last 12 starts in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Geoff Ogilvy (99th) ... Since his solo second at The Honda Classic, he's 6-for-12 with no top 30s.
Jeff Overton (100th) ... Still chasing his first top 25 since a T7 at the Valero Texas Open after which he ranked 54th in FedExCup points.
Lucas Glover (107th) ... Arrives having missed his last three cuts. A T15 at the John Deere Classic stands as his only top 50 among two cuts made in his last 10.
Carl Pettersson (113th) ... Despite sitting first in all-time earnings at the Wyndham Championship, he missed the cut to extend his drought without a top-40 finish to eight consecutive starts. No top 25s in his last 14.
D.H. Lee (114th) ... The rookie rose into the conversation with consecutive top 10s at the AT&T National and The Greenbrier Classic, but has gone 0-for-3 since with missed cuts sandwiching a withdrawal at the Sanderson Farms Championship.
Erik Compton (117th) ... Superb story in that he maintains his card, but his form has been off since the Florida Swing. Best finish among six cuts made in his last 14 starts is a T30 at the Travelers Championship.
Aaron Baddeley (119th) ... His out-of-nowhere T9 at Glen Abbey is his only cut made in 13 starts. It basically clinched his tee time at Liberty National.
Scott Langley (124th) ... While it's a positive that he sneaks into the Playoffs, it's difficult to digest the reality of his seed given he started the season with a T3 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The left-handed rookie is 11-for-26 with three top 25s.
Back in the Saddle
Angel Cabrera (40th) ... First appearance since 2010. Walked off Oak Hill after 12 holes of his second round due to a wrist injury. Eight top 25s in 13 career starts in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Scott Stallings (43rd) ... Third FedExCup Playoffs appearance. Late scratch before the opening round of last week's Wyndham Championship due to a back injury. Tweeted on Sunday that he's feeling better.
Bo Van Pelt (90th) ... A hip injury forced him to withdraw after one round of the PGA Championship. Just his third WD in 338 career PGA TOUR starts. Only one top 10 all season.
Zach Johnson (18th) ... Sitting out the lid-lifter to be the best man in his brother's wedding.
Steve Stricker (20th) ... Resting his right leg (torn hamstring). Plans on returning at the Deutsche Bank Championship.