Power Rankings: FedExCup Playoffs
August 10, 2022
By Ben Everill , PGATOUR.COM
- Xander Schauffele comes into the FedExCup Playoffs as a top contender. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
The much-anticipated FedExCup Playoffs have arrived where the best players all-season now forge ahead over the last three weeks to claim the ultimate prize – the FedExCup.
Those who have put together the best bodies of work over the season have already done enough to find their way to East Lake and the TOUR Championship but resting on laurels won’t help given the unique nature of starting strokes dealt out at the season finale.
And so, the next two weeks at the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind and the BMW Championship to follow at Wilmington Country Club will not only lock in the final 30, but the order in which they’ll start at East Lake.
Shout out to Rob Bolton who has graciously given me a shot at this “projection”. Our resident fantasy and gaming guru is very quick to remind me this is meant to be exactly that, not a prediction, although my finishing order will not just project who I believe will make the TOUR Championship, but who will also win it! Take from that what you will!
POWER RANKINGS: FEDEXCUP PLAYOFFS
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 30 Seamus Power 29 Chez Reavie 28 Davis Riley 27 Tom Hoge 26 J.T. Poston 25 Aaron Wise 24 Adam Scott 23 Joaquin Niemann 22 Russell Henley 21 Shane Lowry 20 Hideki Matsuyama 19 Tom Kim 18 Max Homa 17 Viktor Hovland 16 Collin Morikawa 15 Sungjae Im 14 Tony Finau 13 Jon Rahm 12 Cameron Young 11 Will Zalatoris 10 Sam Burns 9 Billy Horschel 8 Jordan Spieth 7 Matt Fitzpatrick 6 Scottie Scheffler 5 Justin Thomas 4 Patrick Cantlay 3 Cameron Smith 2 Xander Schauffele 1 Rory McIlroy
Since 2017, all top-19 opening seeds advanced through two tournaments in the Playoffs. (In 2017 and 2018 that meant making the third leg while since 2019, it’s meant a trip to the TOUR Championship.) With the numbers pointing in this direction, those inside the top 19 prior to this week have, by default, found their way into the above top 30 in some spot or another. In fact, the top 24 have a place.
Only this week’s opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship, will have a 36-hole cut of low 65 and ties making it the best chance to make a significant move for those outside the bubble. In Memphis 121 of the 125 eligible players will tee it up with Tommy Fleetwood (seeded 47th; personal), Lanto Griffin (69th; back surgery), Daniel Berger (78th; back) and Nate Lashley (98th; toe) not playing.
In the three years where just three Playoffs have been on deck we have seen four, six and six golfers come from outside the top 70 in week one to advance to the BMW Championship. Of last year’s six, five of them finished inside the top 11 in week one to move on with 80th seed Harry Higgs able to leverage a T16 into the 69th slot.
Bolton’s Power Rankings for the FedEx St. Jude Championship presents the usual breakdown of the host course among other information, and there will be stand-alone Power Rankings for the last two tournaments by the master himself.
Just like a year ago – no matter who makes it to the BMW Championship – they will face a new challenge. Wilmington Country Club’s South Course in Delaware will host a PGA TOUR event for the first time and every player will start without a bank of knowledge. Or will they?
Wilmington Country Club was established in 1901, with its original 18 holes covering 135 acres. The club relocated in the 1950s, bringing in renowned golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. to design the South Course, which opened in 1959.
Playing over 7,500 yards from the championship tees, the club has long been a proving ground for the world’s best amateur players. After hosting the 1913 U.S. Women’s Amateur on what is now known as the “Old Course,” Wilmington has hosted five other USGA events, including the 1965 and 1978 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 1971 U.S. Amateur, the 1978 U.S. Girls’ Junior, and the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur.
The club also hosted the 2013 Palmer Cup competition between Europe and a United States team that featured 2019 BMW Championship winner Justin Thomas as well as Daniel Berger and Patrick Rodgers.
Wilmington is slated to play at a par-71 at 7,534 yards for the BMW Championship with the three par-5s at 582, 634 and 649 yards. Four par 3s will play at 206, 205, 170 and 234 yards on the official scorecard while the par 4s range between 393 and 496 yards.
The top 30 in the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the BMW Championship will advance to the TOUR Championship at East Lake in Atlanta. It will challenge familiarly as a par 70 at 7,346 yards with bermuda greens.
In 2019, seven golfers who opened the Playoffs outside the top 30 advanced but in 2020 and 2021 it was just two who converted.
The lowest seed over the last three years to start outside the top 30 and get to East Lake was Erik Van Rooyen last season. He opened as the 76-seed, was seventh in week one and fifth in week two to surge to 27th.
This season we’ve slated four players to move in. Part of this increase from the last two seasons is the proximity in points. Remember the gap between seeds can be minimal, or massive. And points earned in the opening two weeks are quadrupled.
Take this for example. The 24th seed Seamus Power has 990 points. All the way down to 45th seed Sebastian Munoz are within 200 points of that. Squeeze tighter and you see 36th seed Kevin Kisner is within 84 points of Power. Oh, and the difference between 29th seed Luke List and 32nd seed Russell Henley? A whopping three points.
For further explanation on what happens in Atlanta we return to Bolton’s beautiful words.
“As has been customary the last three seasons seeding upon arrival in Atlanta will determine all Starting Strokes, which doubles as the leaderboard position at the beginning of play. The top seed opens at 10-under, the 2-seed at 8-under, and so on,” he explained last season.
“To be clear, the winner of the TOUR Championship will possess the lowest score in relation to par combined with his Starting Strokes. For example, if the top seed, who opens at 10-under, scores 10-under 270 for 72 holes, his total score will be 20-under. Meanwhile, if the 5-seed, who opens at 5-under, scores 14-under 266 for 72 holes, his total score will be 19-under.
The FedExCup champion is credited with an official victory, but neither FedExCup points nor official earnings apply to the TOUR Championship. Only the leaderboard with the influence of Starting Strokes and bonus prize money will be applied. The winner at East Lake also secures a five-year TOUR membership exemption (through 2027).
In the history of the FedExCup, seven golfers have won a Playoffs event as the top seed entering the tournament they won. Patrick Cantlay was the most recent when he prevailed at the 2021 TOUR Championship making it two in a row for the top seed at Atlanta.”
It’s important to note that on 11 occasions, including Cantlay last year, a golfer has won two Playoff events, including consecutively seven times.
Half decent play in the Playoffs isn’t always enough. In 2019, Kevin Tway opened as the 41-seed and posted respective results of T24 and T11 yet finished 31st in the FedExCup. In 2020 Brian Harman (69-seed) went T11-T12 to place 37th, while in 2021 Alex Noren opened 91st seed, was T4-T9 to open the Playoffs, but settled for 33rd in the FedExCup.
Let the chase begin!