Power Rankings: FedExCup Playoffs
August 19, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
The FedExCup Playoffs are back
Those of you with an attention to detail might already be confused. But no, Rob Bolton hasn’t suddenly got rounder cheeks, a combover and a thick Australian accent. As loyal readers know, Power Rankings is Rob’s domain, and will continue to be, except for this exception.
The fact is… it is 2020… so it makes sense that a complete rookie in this space tells you all who are the most likely contenders for the FedExCup in this COVID-19 affected season. So as you read on keep in mind this could be like sending a college quarterback in for Tom Brady, or perhaps in baseball parlance (Rob does love his Cubs) it’s like having Ian Happ pinch hit for Babe Ruth.
And while Rob deals completely in cold hard numbers and facts, personally I add his most feared component… “feel”. As an employee on the ground at many tournaments sometimes you just know what’s coming.
Remember the Playoffs are just three weeks and this season points have been adjusted to drop from four times value to three for the opening two weeks of Playoffs. More on that below the list of projected contenders… along with trends that help project the top 30.
POWER RANKINGS: FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 30 Sebastián Muñoz 29 Harris English 28 Tiger Woods 27 Kevin Na 26 Lanto Griffin 25 Viktor Hovland 24 Scottie Scheffler 23 Marc Leishman 22 Cameron Champ 21 Brendon Todd 20 Gary Woodland 19 Tyrrell Hatton 18 Patrick Cantlay 17 Abraham Ancer 16 Billy Horschel 15 Jason Day 14 Sungjae Im 13 Daniel Berger 12 Patrick Reed 11 Adam Scott 10 Hideki Matsuyama 9 Tony Finau 8 Jon Rahm 7 Dustin Johnson 6 Xander Schauffele 5 Webb Simpson 4 Rory McIlroy 3 Collin Morikawa 2 Bryson DeChambeau 1 Justin Thomas
In a one off move thanks to the reduced season caused by COVID-19 cancelations, Playoff points this season for THE NORTHERN TRUST and the BMW Championship are tripled as opposed to quadrupled. Regular season points carry into the Playoffs but now winners of THE NORTHERN TRUST and the BMW Championship receive 1,500 points. A solo second is worth 900 points, third yields 570, and so on.
This change will most certainly affect those who will make the top 30 come TOUR Championship time. The top 20 from the regular season are inside these power rankings by default – this is by design as I noticed Rob did the same a year ago based on the knowledge that for the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 Playoffs the top 20 remained inside the top 30 after the first two tournaments in the Playoffs. (Prior to last season there were three Playoff events before the TOUR Championship).
Looking at last season results we see the top 19, and 22 of the top 23 from the start of the Playoffs all made Atlanta. In total just seven players came from outside the top 30 as the Playoffs began. Three of those seven started in 31st, 32nd and 33rd place. The longest shot was Abraham Ancer who started at 67th but made his move with a runner up finish in week one of the Playoffs.
Of course the triple points throws us into some unchartered territory. It was made to protect a good regular season. We might get even more of the current top 30 stay there but there is also a compaction of total points given less tournaments played. Wyndham Clark is in the 125 slot with 276 points. Cameron Smith is in the 30 slot with 807 points. In other words a 531 points gap. Clark could surpass Smith this week with a solo third place finish. A year ago the gap from 125 to 30 was 593 points.
For someone to replicate Ancer, they will need to win or go close to it, in the opening two weeks. That starts at TPC Boston, a Playoff host course from 2007 through 2018. It will feature the standard 36-hole cut of top 65 and ties and once results are official, the top 70 in points will qualify for the BMW Championship. Since 2015, 27 golfers who started the Playoffs outside the top 70 played their way inside the bubble after one tournament. Last year had four players play their way in from outside 70th, but none of those kept it going to get to Atlanta.
The BMW Championship this season is to be help at Olympia Fields outside Chicago. While it is not a regular TOUR stop it did play host to the 2003 U.S. Open won by Jim Furyk. The 1928 U.S. Open and the 1925 and 1961 PGA Championships were also at Olympia Fields and the precursor to the BMW Championship, the Western Open, was played there five times, but not since Bruce Crampton won in 1971.
Outside of Furyk’s win in 2003, modern day has seen the 2015 U.S. Amateur played at Olympia Fields where Bryson DeChambeau was victorious. Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa are just some names that were also in that field.
With no cut at Olympia Fields, it'll be more difficult for the worst seeds to advance to the TOUR Championship, but it's doable. Since 2015, 17 golfers who started the BMW outside the top 30 played their way in, nine of whom were outside the top 40. The longest shot was Roberto Castro in 2016. As the 53-seed entering the BMW, he finished in solo third and rose to 21st.
Remember when we get to Atlanta the old mathematical equations are gone, instead we have the scoring system used for the first time last season. Once the top 30 is determined at the conclusion of the BMW Championship, FedExCup points no longer apply.
The top seed entering the finale will begin the tournament at 10-under par. The 2-seed will start at 8-under, and so on down to those seeded 26-30 who open at even par. The winner of the TOUR Championship will be the FedExCup champion. He'll be credited with an official victory, but there is no separate prize fund. Beginning with bonus money of $15 million to the winner, all earnings will reflect final FedExCup finish.
East Lake has held the TOUR Championship since 2004 (and in 2002, 2000, 1998). It has served as the Playoffs culmination since its inception in 2007. But we only have one year of data for the new scoring system.
Rory McIlroy won the FedExCup last season despite starting five shots behind Justin Thomas at the beginning of the TOUR Championship. Interestingly enough McIlroy’s golf would have been good enough to beat the field had everyone started from scratch.
Ok Rob… Come on back now.