Big moves expected in FedExCup standings at Wyndham Championship

August 14, 2013
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Chris Kirk is already contemplating a playoff beard.

Kirk, who currently ranks 31st in the FedExCup standings, asked his Twitter followers whether he should grow one or not on Tuesday. The response, he said, was nearly 100 percent in favor of facial hair.

Graham DeLaet, who helped launch the trend -- in golf, at least -- during last year's FedExCup Playoffs, weighed in as well. "@Chris_Kirk_ we'll make you an honorary Canadian/hockey fan for the next 5 weeks! #besttraditioninsports #playoffbeard" he tweeted.

Kirk could even get a head start on the beard this week at the Wyndham Championship where, like so many others, he has come to try and to improve his position entering the first FedExCup Playoffs event at The Barclays.

Kirk is just two points out of No. 30 -- which is the cutoff for the FedExCup Playoffs finale at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Of course, a lot can change before the extravaganza at East Lake but regardless, every point counts, and that's one reason why the field at Sedgefield this week features eight players ranked in the top 30 and 54 players ranked inside the top 100.

"A win here can really get you right up there in the (FedExCup) and get some momentum for the Playoffs and this is an important stretch for us playing on the PGA TOUR," said Carl Pettersson, who won the 2008 Wyndham Championship. "Everybody is trying improve their position on the FedExCup standings and it's a big week."

Ernie Els, who starts the week ranked 86th, is one of those already assured a Playoffs spot who has come to Greensboro to improve his chances of going even farther in the chase for the prized trophy.

"Although (86th is) comfortable for staying in the top 125 going into the first playoff event, The Barclays, it potentially doesn’t give me much wiggle-room moving on from there into the rest of the Playoff series. Teeing it up this week is a sensible move for me," he said in his blog.

Els has also come to Greensboro at the other end of the spectrum -- bidding just to make the Playoffs. He was No. 126 in 2011, tied for 30th at the Wyndham Championship and vaulted to No. 118th. He ended up ranked 67th and played in the first two Playoffs that year.

The last two FedExCup champions are playing in the Wyndham Championship, too. Both have strong ties to the tournament -- Snedeker is the 2007 champ and sponsored by Wyndham while Haas attended nearby Wake Forest and still remembers getting a sponsor's exemption as a sophomore in 2002 -- but they are also well aware of the opportunity at hand.

Trailing Matt Kuchar by 75 points, Snedeker could easily move from third to second in the standings -- although Tiger Woods at No. 1 is a little too far to catch, even with a win. Haas, who ranks sixth, is only 30 points behind Billy Horschel so he has a similar opportunity to move into the all-important top five who control their own destiny at East Lake.

"Every point means something," said Snedeker, who won the Wyndham Championship in 2007. "So, that's a big key.  I can jump a couple guys if I play well and move up in the FedExCup."

With an eye toward the Playoffs, PGATOUR.COM takes a look at five players who are good bets to make a big move this week.

Jordan Spieth (No. 16): This phenomenal 20-year-old from Texas has played his way onto the PGA TOUR with six top-10 finishes, including that playoff victory at the John Deere Classic last month. He enters the Wyndham Championship well inside the top 30 and could crack the top five with a win.

Zach Johnson (No. 23): The veteran from Iowa is arguably playing the best golf of anyone in the field. Starting with a playoff loss to Spieth at the John Deere Classic, he's posted four straight top-10s -- at The Open Championship, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, no less. He's only played once at Sedgefield but the tie for 26th in 2008 was a respectable one. Look for bigger things this week.

Sergio Garcia (No. 66): You can't overlook the defending champion. In two starts at Sedgefield, he has the one victory and finished a shot out of a playoff in 2009. Oh, and he was third in a Tour event on the same course as an 18-year-old amateur. Garcia used last year as a springboard and finished 17th in the FedExCup so he knows what's at stake.

Martin Kaymer (No. 112): The German, who was the world No. 1 for eight weeks in 2011, is a PGA TOUR member for the first time in 2013. So this is his first Playoffs opportunity and he makes his debut in Greensboro playing well, too -- with a pair of top-10s in his last five starts and three rounds in the 60s at last week's PGA Championship.

Padraig Harrington (No. 129): For the second time in three years, Harrington has come to Greensboro looking to play his way into the top 125. The two-time major champ was successful in 2011, moving from 130th to 124th with a tie for 47th, and he ended up lasting two events. The Irishman, who has three top 10s this season, most recently a tie for 10th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, would like to leave Greensboro with a little more breathing room this time, though.