Examining the FedExCup bubble in the Twin Cities
July 20, 2021
By Justin Ray, Twenty First Group, PGATOUR.COM
- July 20, 2021
- Keith Mitchell has four top-25 finishes so far this season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
With four events left until the beginning of the FedExCup Playoffs, every shot will be significant for several players battling to move inside the top 125 of the points race.
Several prominent names are currently hovering near the 125th position: from recent major champions (Gary Woodland, Francesco Molinari) to former world number ones (Justin Rose, Adam Scott) and a player who has never missed the FedExCup Playoffs (Charles Howell III).
Twenty First Group ran more than 10,000 simulations of how the regular season will play out, predicting how the points will be distributed down the stretch of the 2020-2021 regular season. At this point, 110 players are projected to have a 99.5 percent chance or better of making the Playoffs. A group of 23 players sit between 10 and 70 percent in our projections, leaving the following few weeks as crucial in determining if a player moves on to the postseason, and in some cases, could determine status in 2021-22.
Here are some of the interesting names on the bubble and in the field this week at TPC Twin Cities:
Current FedExCup position: 114
Probability of reaching Playoffs: 82.4%
Despite missing each of his last five cuts on the PGA TOUR, the 29-year-old winner of the 2019 Honda Classic is in strong position to make the postseason as we head to the home stretch. The strength of Mitchell’s game remains his driver, as he ranks in the top-20 on TOUR this season in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. Some improved iron play in the coming weeks should seal the deal: in his last eight rounds on U.S. soil, Mitchell is losing more than a stroke per round to the field on approach.
Two years ago, in the inaugural 3M Open, Mitchell opened the week with rounds of 69-66. If he improves on that this week, he can pretty much assure himself of a spot in the FedExCup Playoffs.
Current FedExCup position: 123
Probability of reaching Playoffs: 41.5%
Two weeks ago, we assessed Hadley’s chances of reaching the FedExCup Playoffs at about 56 percent. A white-hot 63 to open up the John Deere Classic looked like a spike in those odds was to follow, but Hadley ultimately finished in a tie for 34th place that week in Illinois. Hadley is in the field this week in Minnesota, looking to better his back-to-back missed cuts in his previous two starts at this event.
The opening 63 is a glimpse into Hadley’s potential week-to-week: a top-10 putter on TOUR (he’s ninth this season in Strokes Gained: Putting), his scoring average this season when gaining strokes tee-to-green is 68.7. Can he find enough in the coming weeks to get to THE NORTHERN TRUST?
Current FedExCup position: 124
Probability of reaching Playoffs: 56.7%
A closing 65 at The Open Championship last week could be a sign of good things to come in the next few weeks for Rickie Fowler. Fowler quietly tied the low round of the day at Royal St George’s, racking up five birdies and an eagle.
In 15 of his last 20 stateside PGA TOUR rounds, Fowler has had positive Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. Four years ago, Fowler led the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting, but he hasn’t been himself this season in that statistic. Over his last 24 measured rounds, he’s right at neutral (+0.08) in Strokes Gained: Putting per round. Did Rickie find something on the greens at Royal St George’s that will translate to the rest of the PGA TOUR season?
Current FedExCup position: 127
Probability of reaching Playoffs: 53.4%
Now two years removed from his U.S. Open triumph at Pebble Beach, Gary Woodland has work to do down the stretch to assure his place in the postseason. Woodland has missed three of his last four cuts, but not by much: in each instance, he was off the number to make the weekend by two strokes or fewer.
Woodland’s two highest finishes this season – a tie for sixth at the Valero Texas Open and a solo fifth place finish at the Wells Fargo Championship – account for more than 54 percent of his FedExCup point total in 2020-21. A good week at TPC Twin Cities could push Woodland’s probability from the ‘maybe’ range to ‘locked up’ territory.
Current FedExCup position: 131
Probability of reaching Playoffs: 37.5%
Michael Thompson’s brilliant victory at last year’s 3M Open not only gave him a second PGA TOUR title and berth in that year’s U.S. Open, but vaulted him from 151st in the FedExCup race to inside the top-40. He’s in slightly more favorable position as he prepares to defend his title, but at 131st, a stout defense at TPC Twin Cities would go a long way to move him inside the magic number.
Thompson hit his first 20 – and 27 of his first 29 – greens in regulation last year on his way to victory. Thompson would likely love to reclaim that proficient iron play, as he’s nearly a full stroke per round on his approach shots over his last 14 PGA TOUR rounds.