Challenge at Wyndham: Staying inside top 125If Jason Dufner wins the Wyndham Championship this week, he would be the Regular-Season FedExCup points champ.August 14, 2012
Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM Managing Editor
This week's Wyndham Championship is the final tournament of the Regular Season. That means many of the players will be keeping one eye on the leaderboard and another eye on the FedExCup points standings.
After this week, just the top 125 in points will move on to the FedExCup Playoffs, which begin next week at The Barclays.
Thus, those players in the field this week who are already inside the top 125 will be looking to secure and improve their spots. That might explain why just two of the players ranked from 76-125 are not in the field (Fredrik Jacobson at 87 and Jason Day at 107).
As for the players outside the top 125 ... well, there's hope. In the five previous Playoffs years, 17 players who entered the Wyndham Championship outside the top 125 have played their way into the Playoffs. A year ago, it was Ernie Els, William McGirt and Padraig Harrington who crossed over the 125 threshold.
On Monday, we looked at some of the notables who are outside the top 125 going into this week (click here for the list). Now let's look at some key names inside the top 125 (current FedExCup ranking in parentheses).
Jason Dufner (3) ... A two-time winner on the PGA TOUR this year, Dufner's the only player in the field who could overtake Tiger Woods (not playing this week) as the FedExCup points leader going into the Playoffs. Dufner would need a tie for second or better.
Webb Simpson (13) ... If he can successfully defend his Wyndham Championship, Simpson could move into the top five in points. The top five will be a key dividing point later in the Playoffs, as the top five after the BMW Championship are the only ones who control their own destiny going into the FedExCup finale at East Lake. A year ago, Simpson came to Wyndham ranked 12th in points, then moved to third after his win. He eventually finished second to Bill Haas.
NOTABLES INSIDE TOP 125
Carl Pettersson (9) ... In a two-start stretch in April, Pettersson picked up 800 FedExCup points (a second at the Shell Houston, followed by a win at the RBC Heritage). Those two weeks have accounted for more than half of his FedExCup points this year. His tie for third last week at the PGA Championship pushed him inside the top 10 in points heading into this week.
Brandt Snedeker (23) ... His early win at the Farmers Insurance Open moved him to second in points. Since then, Sneds has lost FedExCup ground in 11 of his last 15 starts. He's currently 1,117 points behind the leader, his largest deficit of the season.
Bill Haas (25) ... A year ago, Haas arrived at Wyndham ranked 15th in points. He missed the cut but managed to keep his spot inside the top 30 and ... well, you know the rest. The defending FedExCup champ was ranked 10th after this year's Masters but has drifted back, as he's missed four cuts in his last 10 starts. But he seems to playing a little better lately.
Nick Watney (51) ... What a difference a year makes. Watney was the FedExCup leader entering last year's Playoffs but has struggled to find his form this year. He has just two top-10 finishes in 19 stroke-play starts, and comes off a missed cut at the PGA Championship.
Charley Hoffman (62) ... Two years ago, Hoffman was ranked 77th entering the Playoffs, but a win at the Deutsche Bank put him in position to challenge for the FedExCup. A year ago, he ranked 49th going in, but made little noise and didn't even get to East Lake. This year has been a struggle, and he comes off a WD and two missed cuts in his last three starts.
David Toms (65) ... A terrific year in 2011, Toms has been through a mostly forgettable 2012 -- at least until the last few weeks. A tie for fourth at the U.S. Open moved Toms up 25 spots in the FedExCup standings. His next start was a tie for 8th at Bridgestone, so perhaps the veteran is ready to make a late-season surge.
Charl Schwartzel (97) ... A couple of top-5 finishes in early March allowed Schwartzel to move up 106 spots. But the 2010 Masters champ hasn't had a top-10 finish since. A year ago, he played his way out of getting to the TOUR Championship; he'll need to find an extra gear now just to get to the BMW Championship.
Sergio Garcia (102) ... The last time Garcia was this far back in FedExCup points entering Wyndham was in 2009. He then finished fourth at Sedgefield, moving up 26 spots and made it to the BMW Championship that year. Can he repeat that effort this year?
Tim Clark (109) ... Having dealt with injuries seemingly since his breakout 2010 campaign when he claimed THE PLAYERS Championship, Clark appears to have found his form lately. He finished tied for 15th at the RBC Canadian and tied for 11th at the PGA Championship, allowing him to move up 26 spots and inside the top 125.
Henrik Stenson (112) ... The 2009 PLAYERS champion has actually been fairly productive in FedExCup points. He's averaged 35.837 points per start, which ranks 51st among all TOUR pros. His 11 starts this year ties Lee Westwood for fewest among any player inside the top 125 in points. The Swede, who has six top-25 finishes this year, is making his first start on the PGA TOUR in more than two months.
Davis Love III (119) ... The 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup captain earned 60 percent of his points during a three-week stretch starting at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. Greensboro has always been kind to him -- he's won twice here -- but is still looking for his first top-10 finish on the Sedgefield course.
LAST FIVE ON BUBBLE
Boo Weekley (121) ... During a five-start stretch earlier this year, he moved from 209th to 75th in points, a jump of 134 spots. But in his 10 starts since then, he has three missed cuts and two WDs.
Trevor Immelman (122) ... In his 89 starts since winning the 2008 Masters, Immelman has four top-10 finishes -- and none this year. But he can make the Playoffs for the second consecutive year if he can maintain his position this week.
Jason Bohn (123) ... Ranked 157th going into the True South Classic but finished second and moved inside the top 125. Missed the Playoffs last year after reaching the BMW Championship the previous two years.
Jhonattan Vegas (124) ... Ranked 34th after the PGA Championship a year ago, giving him a chance to rest up for the Playoffs. But now he needs to sweat it out after a year in which he's produced just two top-10 finishes.
Rod Pampling (125) ... In the last three years, the man directly on the bubble -- Jeff Maggert in 2009, Michael Letzig in 2010, Camilo Villegas in 2012 -- has made the Playoffs. That's the good news. The bad news for Pampling? He's had just one top-25 finish since mid-March and may need one to maintain his spot this week.
John Huh (26) ... There are 21 rookies in the field this week, and Huh, the winner of the Mayakoba Golf Classic, has the highest ranking in FedExCup points. In fact, Huh could move inside the top 20 should he produce a top-5 finish at Wyndham. But he's been fading a bit lately. In his last four starts, his best finish is a tie for 46th, as he's dropped 11 spots in the FedExCup race.
Bud Cauley (48) ... While Huh has given up ground in the FedExCup race lately, Cauley has made some up. Thanks to a pair of fourth-place finishes among his last four starts, he's gone from 69th to 48th in points. His late-season surge should make it easier for him to advance to the BMW Championship, which takes the top 70 in points.
Jonas Blixt (99) ... Making his return after missing the last 10 weeks with a rib injury. He was 58th in FedExCup points after his last start but has dropped 41 spots.