FedExCup race enters second half
April 19, 2017
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- The Valero Texas Open crosses the halfway point of the PGA TOUR season as the race for the FedExCup heats up. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
The race for the FedExCup has just pushed past the halfway mark and as such it is time to check in and see who is looking good for a place in the TOUR Championship and who has work to do if they want to feature in the Playoffs.
It’s also a great time to check in on our 18 bold predictions from the beginning of the season to see where we were right, where we might still be right, and where we need a minor miracle to be right.
As we head into our 24th event of the year at the Valero Texas Open, there is no surprise to see the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year Dustin Johnson leading the way.
Johnson has three wins already this season plus a third place and sixth place finish in just seven events and sits on 1,903 points – good enough for an 81 point lead over Hideki Matsuyama.
Given it took 1,607 points to make the TOUR Championship last year, it would appear Johnson could fall down a few more stairs and still make his way to Atlanta.
But of course you get the feeling his winning days aren’t over. And after the FedExCup slipped through his fingers on Sunday at East Lake last year Johnson feels he has unfinished business.
If we use last year’s mark of 1,607 points to get to the 30-man season ending event then Matsuyama (1,822) and Justin Thomas (1,793) are the only other two players who can already plan their itinerary.
Using the 454 points as the mark it took to enter the top 125 and a berth in the Playoffs last year we see 42 players already past the mark. The 41st player on the current list is defending FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy so chances are we are set to see him have a chance to be the first player to go back-to-back and just the second player behind Tiger Woods to win the Cup twice.
Other big names already in front of last year’s Playoffs mark include Jon Rahm (1,361), 2015 FedExCup champ Jordan Spieth (1,104), Rickie Fowler (1,069), Justin Rose (980), Sergio Garcia (877), 2011 champion Bill Haas (645), 2012 champion Brandt Snedeker (517) and Phil Mickelson (475).
And while this leaves plenty of players, including the likes of Jason Day, Henrik Stenson and Patrick Reed with work to do, the biggest concerns come for those players outside the top 125 of this season right now.
The 2010 FedExCup champion Jim Furyk is one of these men. As too are Masters champions Bubba Watson and Danny Willett.
Furyk is the first man on the outside looking in, sitting in 126th place. Watson sits in 129th. Willett – well he is languishing in 204th.
Currently 11 rookies are inside the top 125 this season with last start winner Wesley Bryan leading the way at 11th in the FedExCup.
Of the 30 players to make the TOUR Championship last season currently Si Woo Kim (139th), Roberto Castro (156th), and Watson (129th) are the only three players outside the Playoff zone.
Check out the full FedExCup standings here and see where your favorite player sits.
FedExCup Player Advantage: Halfway Point
And now for some fun. Before a ball was hit in anger last October we made our 18 bold (and not so bold) predictions. Let’s see how we are going.
18. A defending champion will retain his title. Verdict: CORRECT
It didn’t take long. Justin Thomas defended at the CIMB Classic in just the second week of the season. Hideki Matsuyama also defended at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
17. Dustin Johnson will win again. Verdict: CORRECT
For the 10th year in a row since coming out on TOUR Dustin Johnson claimed at least one win. He’s already got three this year. The last came as he claimed the WGC- Slam.
Dustin Johnson claims career WGC grand slam at Dell Match Play
16. Kevin Chappell finally breaks through. Verdict: Not Yet Correct
Chappell has not yet performed as he did last year where he had four runner-up finishes. In fact the Masters, where he was T7, is his only top-10 result so far this season. But, there is still time and this week is one of his potential breakout weeks. He was T2 in 2011 and T4 last year at the Valero Texas Open.
15. Steven Bowditch turns his game around. Verdict: Currently off the mark
In 15 starts this season, Bowditch has made just one cut and he finished T58 there. As unlikely as it might seem to some he can still turn things around. We said this: “It may not happen right away but watch for him to find his spark and surprise plenty, most likely in Texas.” Well, we just hit Texas and he won the Valero Texas Open in 2014.
14. Expect an albatross at THE PLAYERS Championship. Verdict: We will find out next month.
Check out the redesign of the 12th hole at TPC Sawgrass here. It is a potential scene of said albatross.
The Renovation Project: No. 12 remodel
13. Jon Rahm and Bryson DeChambeau will live up to high expectations. Verdict: CORRECT on Rahm, On the way with Bryson.
Rahm won the Farmers Insurance Open and was a finalist at the World Golf Championship – Dell Technologies Match Play so it is safe to say he’s made a splash. DeChambeau was T2 at the Puerto Rico Open, but it is his only top-10 finish so to be fair we might need to see a little more to claim this one fully correct.
By the Numbers: Jon Rahm's incredible eagle finish
12. Two players will challenge 58; one will shoot 59. Verdict: Basically Correct.
Two players did challenge 58 already this season but both shot 59. Justin Thomas and Adam Hadwin joined the exclusive club with incredible performances.
Highlights of Justin Thomas' 59 in Round 1 at Sony Open
11. Three of the four majors will be won by previous major winners. Verdict: In Jeopardy.
Given the one and only major we have had thus far had a first time winner, we are going to need to run the table in the final three.
10. Thomas Pieters will earn special temporary membership. Verdict: CORRECT
Pieters did not need long. In his first four starts he finished inside the top 14 in three of them including a T2 and T5. He was T4 on his Masters debut. This guy is the real deal.
9. Phil Mickelson ends his drought. Verdict: He’s teasing us again. Hopeful.
Three top-10s already this season prove the veteran still has what it takes to compete. We are not prepared to write him off yet!
8. Andrew Johnston wins a trophy and fills it with Arby’s sandwiches. Verdict: We will keep dreaming.
The man known as “Beef” has hardly set the world on fire just yet. With just one top-10 finish in Puerto Rico he sits 183rd in the FedExCup. In other words plenty have been asking: Where’s the Beef?
7. Seven of the 50 Web.com Tour grads will win tournaments. Verdict: On Our Way
We have already got five wins on the board thanks to Cody Gribble, MacKenzie Hughes, Rod Pampling, D.A. Points and Wesley Bryan. Others like Ollie Schniederjans, J.J. Spaun, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith have shown promise. We still like our chances.
Wesley Bryan's breakout win at RBC Heritage
6. Team International finally wins The Presidents Cup. Verdict: Have to wait on this one.
We won’t know this until the last week of the season but the team is certainly shaping up to have some solid new blood. Emiliano Grillo and Adam Hadwin have emerged as possible team members to join the likes of Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott, Branden Grace, Charl Schwartzel, Marc Leishman and Louis Oosthuizen.
5. Patrick Reed becomes a top-5 player. Verdict: Needs to Lift
Mr. Reed hasn’t kicked on from his Ryder Cup heroics late last year. He has just one top-10 finish and it came in the opening week of January in Kapalua. For us to be right here he will need to jag multiple wins in the back half of the year.
4. Jason Day will win the FedExCup and Player of the Year. Verdict: He will need a 2015 type run.
Day’s form has been down on his high standards although we recently found out a big reason why – his mother is suffering from lung cancer. With surgery having gone successfully the burden on his shoulders may be lifting and he could yet make a run this summer. Don’t count this out just yet even though he’s three wins behind Johnson at this point.
3. Sergio Garcia finally wins a major. Verdict: CORRECT
We are just going to show you exactly what we wrote last October:
“It is time. One for the ages. After years of heartache and pain, the Spanish sensation will recapture some of his best and bring it out at a major. Of course there will be heart attack moments. Garcia will not make it easy on himself or the fans. But at a critical moment, when in the past it has all gone wrong, it will go right. And even those who have enjoyed the Spanish sorrows will tip a glass to the drought-breaker.”
We are pretty proud of that prediction.
Sergio gets it done, a playoff for the ages & Kuch's ace
2. Sam Saunders wins a TOUR event, possibly as a sponsor invite. Verdict: We still want this one bad.
T5 at Puerto Rico. T11 at RBC Heritage. Arnold Palmer’s grandson is flirting with the emotional win we all want to see. We wish him well the remainder of the season.
1. Tiger Woods claims career win No. 80. Verdict: Extremely unlikely. But we cling to hope.
First, we need him to play. Woods hasn’t been seen since missing the cut at his only event this year, the Farmers Insurance Open. With his back injury still giving him issues we have lowered our hopes to just seeing him back out at an event. It’s fun to dream.
So there you have it. About a third of our predictions have proven correct through half of the season. Let’s see how many we may have at the end.