THINGS TO KNOW
Five Things to Know before FedEx St. Jude Championship
August 09, 2022
By Cameron Morfit , PGATOUR.COM
- August 09, 2022
- Scottie Scheffler leads the FedExCup standings leading into the Playoffs. (Ben Jared/Getty Images)
GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – The top performers on the PGA TOUR this season will tee it up in the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind beginning Thursday, the start of a three-week stretch that will determine the FedExCup champion.
Scottie Scheffler, the favorite to win it all, has been the man out front almost all year, building a large lead with his four wins, including the Masters. He could become the FedExCup champ just two years after he was the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year.
Joohyung (Tom) Kim and Max McGreevy played their way in just last week, finishing first and T5, respectively, at the Wyndham Championship.
From the bubble boys to the Presidents Cup permutations, here’s Five Things to Know before the FedExCup Playoffs get underway.
1. SCHEFFLER IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
Scheffler moved to No. 1 in the FedExCup with his victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in early March, has stayed there ever since, and is coming off a three-week break after The Open Championship (T21).
With four victories among his nine top-10 finishes, including his Masters win, he has racked up 3,556 FedExCup points and is 1,221 ahead of Cameron Smith, whose own impressive season features wins at the Sentry Tournament of Champions (where he shot the lowest score in relation to par in TOUR history), THE PLAYERS and The Open at St. Andrews. Scheffler’s best bud on TOUR, Sam Burns, is 1,281 points back after his own three-win campaign. Xander Schauffele also has three wins this season but is still 1,403 points behind Scheffler.
As impressive as his season has been, Scheffler’s FedExCup lead isn’t safe. With points being quadrupled in the Playoffs, victories in each of the next two weeks are worth 2,000 points. The FedExCup leader at the TOUR Championship will start with a two-stroke lead under the unique Starting Strokes format.
“Honestly, you probably want to be Scottie Scheffler right now,” said Tony Finau, who is coming off back-to-back wins at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic, moving him up to FedExCup No. 7. “You are controlling the whole FedExCup.”
Still, players like Finau have a chance, even if he is 1,644 points behind the leader.
“I think now a win for some of those guys would help them pass me if I didn't play so good this week,” said Scheffler, who was 14th in his last start at TPC Southwind, the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational last summer. “But I still have a pretty strong lead even with the points being magnified now in the Playoffs, so if I continue to play good golf, I should have a lead going into East Lake, which is definitely a good position to be in.”
It's already been a fruitful year for Scheffler, who has earned more than $13 million to break Jordan Spieth’s record for single-season earnings (not including FedExCup bonus money). Another $18 million would come Scheffler’s way if he’s still atop the FedExCup standings at season’s end.
2. ON THE LINERory McIlroy could become the first player to win three FedExCup trophies. (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy is sixth in the FedExCup and coming off a break following his third-place finish in The Open. Most players would be thrilled to have played so well in the majors. In addition to contending at St. Andrews, where he held the 54-hole lead but couldn’t buy a putt in the final round and was passed by Smith, McIlroy was second at the Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship and T5 at the U.S. Open. McIlroy has high standards, however, and the fact is he ran his majorless streak to 31. Now, though, his opportunity to make history could serve as some consolation; no player, not even Tiger Woods, has won the FedExCup three times.
Patrick Cantlay goes into the Playoffs at FedExCup No. 5. No player has ever successfully defended his FedExCup title, but with a TOUR-leading 10 top-10 finishes this season, including a victory with partner Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Cantlay is in the mix to do just that. If he gets hot like he did last summer, watch out. He’ll also be looking for his first individual victory of the season.
Tony Finau, who won the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic, will look to make it three wins in three starts this week. That would make him the hottest player since Scheffler won four times in six starts in the spring. Also, Finau has unfinished business at TPC Southwind, where he admittedly hasn’t played well – his best is a T27 in 2019.
Then there’s Collin Morikawa, who’s looking to win in the Playoffs to avoid the first winless season of his career. Former Wake Forest teammates Cameron Young and Will Zalatoris also will be looking to nab a win before season’s end. Each is seeking his maiden victory after knocking on the door multiple times this season, including close calls at the majors.
Scheffler (Masters), Smith (The Open), Justin Thomas (PGA Championship) and Matt Fitzpatrick (U.S. Open) would love to cap their major-winning campaigns with the FedExCup.
3. AWARDS SEASON
In case you were wondering, yes, Joohyung “Tom” Kim, who opened with a quadruple bogey and closed with a 9-under 61 to win the Wyndham Championship – by a gaudy five shots, no less – is eligible for the 2022 Arnold Palmer Award as PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year.
That makes five rookies in the top 40 of the FedExCup standings -- Cameron Young (No. 9), Davis Riley (No. 23), Tom Kim (No. 34), Mito Pereira (No. 38) and Sahith Theegala (No. 39) – and a tight race for top rookie honors.
“Yeah, I still can't really wrap my head around of just what happened,” Kim said Tuesday in Memphis. “It's been – it's been a crazy month. Start of July I was planning on trying to get my card through Korn Ferry (Tour) Finals and now one month later I'm a PGA TOUR winner.”
With seven top-3s, including a runner-up to Cameron Smith at The Open and a T3 at the PGA Championship, Young is believed to be the frontrunner. That would be fitting: Will Zalatoris, who was one year ahead of Young at Wake Forest, won the honor last season. While nabbing the award out of Young’s hands would be a tough task, the strong fields of the FedExCup Playoffs make it possible, as a win or even high finishes in all three would surely make a statement to a player’s peers, who are the voters for the award.
The Playoffs also will bring clarity to the Player of the Year race. Scheffler is the favorite, of course, but Smith could surpass him with a strong sprint to the finish. Same for Thomas and Fitzpatrick, who’d have a strong case if they had both a major and the FedExCup on their CV.
4. CUP CALL
Players have this week and next to automatically make the U.S. Presidents Cup Team that will take on the International Team at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club on Sept. 22-25.
It’s no easy task; only six players will make it on points after next week’s BMW Championship, the second event of the FedExCup Playoffs. After that, U.S. Captain Davis Love III will make his six picks the day after the TOUR Championship, Aug. 29.
Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas occupy the top five spots in the standings and would seem to be a lock.
Tony Finau won the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic to move into the sixth position and has said he wants to make the team on points, not as a captain’s pick.
The next six after that: Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Billy Horschel, and Cameron Young. Who will get the call?
Homa won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow and is having a nice year. Young, while playing with Love at the recent Rocket Mortgage Classic, tied the course record with a 63. Love has spoken admiringly of the sound the ball makes coming off Zalatoris’ clubs.
Meanwhile, Kevin Kisner (15th), Keegan Bradley (18th), and Maverick McNealy (19th) are among those outside the top 12 who have great match-play pedigree and could make a late run.
The International Team’s eight automatic qualifiers also will be determined after the BMW, with four Captain’s Picks coming Aug. 29. The top eight in the current standings, which are based on the Official World Golf Ranking, are Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Joaquin Niemann, Joohyung Kim, Corey Conners, Mito Pereira and Adam Scott.
That leaves players like two-time AT&T Byron Nelson champ K.H. Lee; former Presidents Cup participants Adam Hadwin, Marc Leishman, Anirban Lahiri and Si Woo Kim; and former TOUR winners Sebastian Munoz, Mackenzie Hughes and Lucas Herbert jockeying for the four picks.
5. BUBBLE BOYS
In addition to the fight for the FedEx St. Jude Championship trophy we’ll see a battle to get into (or remain) in the top 70 of the FedExCup standings to qualify for next week’s BMW Championship.
Those on the bubble include ...
No. 67 John Huh, the onetime PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year who finished T2 at the Wyndham Championship last week, his best finish in a decade.
No. 70 Trey Mullinax, who captured his first TOUR title at the Barbasol Championship earlier this summer and was striping it in a practice round with Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, his former Alabama teammate, on Tuesday.
No. 71 Brandon Wu, a rookie who finished T8 at the Wyndham Championship in addition to two top-3 finishes this season.
No. 75 Chad Ramey, who captured his first TOUR title this season at the Corales Puntacana Championship.