Power Rankings: FedExCup PlayoffsAugust 21, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
The complexion of how all of the golfers rank during the FedExCup Playoffs can change with every birdie or better and bogey or worse. Golfers on the course have no idea where they stand until they post, and even then nothing is official until the final stroke is made. This is the PGA TOUR in the modern world.
The seventh edition of the FedExCup Playoffs begins this week at The Barclays. The top 125 in FedExCup points qualify. Points are quintupled for the first three tournaments, after which the top 30 will be reset for the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Any of the top five upon arrival at East Lake can clinch the FedExCup with a win.
Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J., returns as host of The Barclays. It could play as a much different track than what the field experienced the first time around in 2009 due to the series of modifications, but it won't be as new on the eyes as Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill., site of the BMW Championship for the first time. TPC Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship) and East Lake (TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola) are the cornerstones of the Playoffs.
Despite the parity and unpredictability these four events are certain to generate, trends have developed since the current iteration of the points structure was introduced in 2009. First, exactly seven golfers outside the top 30 survived all three phases in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Eight advanced all the way to East Lake in 2010. Three golfers have accomplished the feat twice, including Adam Scott who started as the No. 32 seed in both 2010 and 2012. The poster boy for rising up is John Senden. He's turned the trick three times, falling short only in 2010. His starting slots were 31st (2009), 50th (2011) and 37th (2012).
Another commonality among the last four Playoffs is that exactly one golfer from outside the opening top 30 has won one of the four tournaments. The exclusive club consists of Heath Slocum (124th, The Barclays), Charley Hoffman (77th, Deutsche Bank Championship), Justin Rose (44th, BMW Championship) and Nick Watney (49th, The Barclays). Of the 16 winners overall, Slocum (eighth) is the only to finish outside the top five at the conclusion of the Playoffs.
All of the starting top 13 from every edition have advanced to East Lake. Last year, all golfers inside the top 19 made it through the first three phases. Defending FedExCup champion, Brandt Snedeker, entered at No. 19. He starts this week ranked third and stands the best chance of becoming the first reigning champ to return to East Lake the following year.
As far as what it takes to survive the first step, all golfers that have finished inside the top 42 on the leaderboard at The Barclays have earned tee times at TPC Boston. For those that don't, bonus prize money is awarded on top of any official earnings. Even those that wrapped up the conclusion of the PGA TOUR season that leads into the FedExCup Playoffs slotted 126-150 in points banked $32,000 in bonuses.
Power Rankings: FedExCup Playoffs Rank Player Comment Phil MICKELSON Opening as the 4 seed, the Liberty National member is poised to make considerable noise during the Playoffs. He hasn't been in better position for a run at what would be his first FedExCup title and Player of the Year Award. Tiger WOODS The only criticism of the FedExCup points leader is consistency, but it's still relative. Most touring pros would happily accept one of his seasons as an entire career. If he's beaten during the Playoffs, the damage won't be self-inflicted. Jason DAY The Aussie went 4-for-4 in the majors with three top 10s. The big-stage performer is still chasing his second PGA TOUR victory, and he's long overdue. Starts 14th in FedExCup points with success throughout his Playoffs history. Adam SCOTT Limited schedule (12 starts) helps mute a tremendous season as he starts the Playoffs ranked 11th in points, albeit his second-highest since the inaugural edition in 2007 when he was ninth. Short-lister to contend at TPC Boston. Webb SIMPSON Starts 17th in FedExCup points and has logged success on all three previously played tracks -- solo eighth at Liberty National in 2009; won at TPC Boston in 2011; T5 at East Lake last year. Top 25s in all three starts this month. Henrik STENSON On some kind of tear with no worse than a T3 in his last four starts. Seeded ninth in FedExCup points, he's played only one of the host courses (TPC Boston, T55, 2007), but he could get his ball to land on a tightrope right now. Dustin JOHNSON We'll learn quickly if his recent engagement has any impact on his game inside the ropes. Checks in at 16th in points. Advanced to East Lake each of the last four years after opening at 19th, 11th, 19th and 26th, respectively. Matt KUCHAR Enters with his highest career starting position in points (No. 2). Former Barclays champ but at Ridgewood in 2010; second at Plainfield in 2011. Arguably best suited for the final two stops, but needs to retain positioning inside top five. Jim FURYK Since missing the cut at Muirfield in July, he's vaulted 48 spots to 23rd in points following two T9s and a runner-up (at Oak Hill). Winner of the 2010 FedExCup. Three top 10s at TPC Boston; four top 10s at East Lake (2010 champ). Bill HAAS The former FedExCup champion is a virtual lock to return to East Lake, where he won in 2011 after beginning that week slotted 25th in the standings. He'll start this edition ranked fifth. Leads the PGA TOUR with nine top 10s. Jason DUFNER The PGA Champion struts in ranked 15th in points after wallowing at 78th following the RBC Canadian Open. Preceded his breakthrough with a T4 at Firestone. Three-time participant at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Keegan BRADLEY After starting fifth in FedExCup points in 2011 and eighth last year, he begins this year's edition at No. 10. Streaky and in a groove at the moment. Hasn't posted a top 10 in the Playoffs, but has top 25s in four of his eight starts.' Brandt SNEDEKER He'll end the curse among reigning FedExCup champions failing to return to East Lake, but he limps into the Playoffs. Buoyed by his starting spot in third, expect a boost at TPC Boston where he has top-sixes the last three years. Zach JOHNSON Riding a blistering, career-high streak of five top 10s. Descends on the Playoffs ranked 18th in points. Par or better in his last 12 rounds, including all eight at Firestone and Oak Hill. Skipping The Barclays for his brother's wedding. Rory McILROY Defending champion of the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship returns slotted 49th in points. May surprise some that he manufactured five top 10s in just 13 events. Tied for eighth in his last start at Oak Hill. Bubba WATSON Converted four of six times in advancing to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. His other two attempts stalled at the BMW Championship. Opens 38th in FedExCup points and thirsty for his first top 20 in six starts. Hunter MAHAN Only golfer not to have missed an event in FedExCup Playoffs history. Three of his five top 10s occurred at East Lake (2007, 2011, 2012). Starts this year's edition at 21st in points thanks to four top 10s and another eight top 25s. Justin ROSE As dangerous as he is likely to fade, as everything depends on his putting. Zero top 50s in five starts at TPC Boston, but he starts seventh in FedExCup points, so he can afford an off-week. Runner-up at East Lake last year. Charl SCHWARTZEL Both of his previous runs have ended at the BMW Championship. Kicks off this edition ranked 33rd in FedExCup points. Notched four top 10s and another six top 25s in just 15 starts this season. Ranks fifth in adjusted scoring. Billy HORSCHEL Admitted recently he's put too much pressure on himself -- he's gone dry over the last two months -- but at sixth in FedExCup points, he can loosen up and let the Playoffs come to him as he's earned his position. Huge wildcard. Jordan SPIETH Expect the 8 seed to receive an education inside the ropes. There is no questioning his talent, but curiosity remains how it stacks up against the deepest fields the PGA TOUR has to offer. The Rookie of the Year Award is his to lose. Rickie FOWLER Pieced together a methodical season with four top 10s and another five top 25s. Starts as the 42 seed in his fourth appearance. Opened at No. 18 last year and qualified for the finale despite no top 20s during the Playoffs. Lee WESTWOOD Just his second appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs. Started his debut last year as the 51 seed and finished 10th. Begins this year's at 35th in points. Hasn't gone four consecutive starts without a top 10 in over a year. Harris ENGLISH At 19th in FedExCup points to begin the Playoffs, he's on the bubble to advance to East Lake, but he's missed only four cuts all year. Slate includes four top 10s, including his breakthrough in Memphis, and another four top 25s. Chris KIRK Scratched out his spot as the 31 seed despite just one top 10 in his last 17 starts. His consistency (18-for-21, nine top 25s) suits the objective of the Playoffs in which he's advanced to the BMW Championship in both previous appearances. Sergio GARCIA His starting position of 59th is weighed down by only 13 starts, but he recorded four top 10s and another four top 25s. Opened last year's Playoffs at 33rd and finished 17th despite sitting out the Deutsche Bank Championship. Patrick REED His playoff victory at the Wyndham Championship propelled him to 22nd in FedExCup points. It was his third consecutive top 10. Making his debut in the Playoffs. Hasn't competed in a major or World Golf Championships event either. Kevin STREELMAN There's an argument that a seed for this season was planted when he tied for third at the 2010 Barclays and eventually qualified for East Lake after starting the Playoffs slotted 102nd. This time around, he's a career-best 13th. Boo WEEKLEY Enjoying a second wind if not a career year. At 12th in FedExCup points, one more solid week should clinch his first trip to East Lake since 2007 (T21 of 30 that qualified). It remains his only top 25 in 12 starts in the Playoffs. Rory SABBATINI The home-run call at 85th in the FedExCup points standings. Author of some spirited golf this summer to warrant the consideration. Posted top 10s in each event of the Playoffs in 2007, the only time he's reached East Lake.