August 02, 2022
By Justin Ray, Twenty First Group, PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler sits No. 123 in the FedExCup heading into the Wyndham Championship. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)
Nearly 11 months after the marathon began, only four rounds remain in the PGA TOUR's Regular Season. For many players in the Wyndham Championship, the toughest, most tense shots hit all year long will come this week in North Carolina.
While many players have a mathematical chance at moving inside the top 125 on the FedExCup to earn Playoffs berths, the reality is only a few usually make the move inside the bubble after arriving in Greensboro. In both 2020 and 2021, exactly three players moved from outside the top 125 to within the magic number. Since 2012, the average number of players to move in is even smaller than that – just 2.4.
Twenty First Group ran more than 10,000 simulations of this week’s Wyndham Championship to determine the probabilities of every player on the bubble qualifying for next week’s Playoffs opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Germantown, Tennessee. Here's a look at the results.
120. Nick Taylor
Points ahead of 126th: 27.3
FedExCup Playoffs probability: 95.4%
Teetering on the edge of playoff eligibility again is two-time TOUR winner Nick Taylor, a man who has finished between 120th and 130th in the FedExCup standings three different times since 2016. That’s tied with Scott Stallings for the most such finishes during that span. The Canadian enters this week reeling a bit after missing four of his last five cuts as he tries to make the postseason for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.
Taylor has some strong recent history in Greensboro: he finished tied for eighth here in 2018 -- thanks to a final-round 63 -- and tied for 10th last season. The most players to ever move into the top 125 in the final week of the Regular Season under the current points format is five, so it will take an historic weekend of movement to knock Taylor out of the field in Tennessee.
121. Chesson Hadley
Points ahead of 126th: 24.4
FedExCup Playoffs probability: 87.1%
A year ago, Chesson Hadley assembled a miraculous closing stretch to sneak into the Playoffs at No. 125. His last 10 holes that Sunday included six birdies and a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th that pushed him past Justin Rose by a single point for the final postseason spot. Hadley shouldn’t need a back-nine 29 to get in this season – a 10th-place finish two weeks ago at the 3M Open likely punched his ticket to advance – but two strong rounds to start his week in North Carolina wouldn’t hurt. Hadley, a North Carolina native, enters this week with 16 consecutive rounds of par or better at the Wyndham Championship, with a scoring average of 67.9 in that span.
123. Rickie Fowler
Points ahead of 126th: 19.4
FedExCup Playoffs probability: 72.0%
After nearly winning THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT in his second start of the season, this season has been another on-course battle for Rickie Fowler. For the first season in his PGA TOUR career, he’s losing strokes per round to the field both off the tee and on approach shots. His once-unbeatable putting (he led the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Putting in 2017) has slipped, too, as he’s outside the top 100 in that statistic for the first time since 2012.
But there are positives as Fowler heads into the last Regular Season start of the season. He’s 123rd in the FedExCup, on the right side of the dividing line entering Wyndham – last year, he was 130th and didn’t get the big week he needed to advance. He’s made six of his last eight cuts and is averaging positive Strokes Gained: Total (+0.14) and Tee-to-Green (+0.22) per round since the beginning of May. With more than a 19-point cushion over 126th, Twenty First Group gives Fowler a 72% chance of advancing to the Playoffs.
124. Matt Wallace
Points ahead of 126th: 11.5
FedExCup Playoffs Probability: 41.0%
After missing the cut at the Genesis Scottish Open, Matt Wallace’s Playoffs hopes looked pretty bleak. He sat outside the top 140 in points and had made just four cuts in his last 14 PGA TOUR starts. But the talented Englishman has rallied, finishing T26 at the 3M Open and T10 last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and he has given himself an opportunity to play his way into the field in Memphis. Twenty-five players made the cut in both Minneapolis and Michigan the last two weeks on the PGA TOUR. Of that group, no player has putted better than Wallace, who has averaged 1.21 strokes gained per round on the greens in that stretch.
125. Austin Smotherman
Points ahead of 126th: 10.2
FedExCup Playoffs probability: 29.2%
Every season since 2014, at least one player has moved from outside the top 125 and into the Playoffs via his performance at the Wyndham Championship. That means 28-year-old PGA TOUR rookie Austin Smotherman, currently the last man in next week’s field, will almost certainly need to earn a good number of points this weekend in order to keep his campaign going. That hasn’t been a problem recently for the rookie, who has made the cut in nine of his last 11 tries, including a career-best eighth-place showing at the Barracuda Championship.
130. Cameron Champ
Points behind 125th: 27.1
FedExCup Playoffs probability: 12.4%
At no point this season has Cameron Champ ranked inside the top 125 in the points race, but after back-to-back top-20s at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic, the three-time TOUR winner has an outside shot at making a big jump this weekend. Champ has struggled immensely on and around the greens for most of the season, but he seems to have found something the last two weeks, ranking in the top 20 in Strokes Gained: Putting in both Minneapolis and Detroit.
Every year since 2015, at least one player has earned a FedExCup Playoffs berth after entering the Wyndham Championship at No. 130 or below. Four times in that span, multiple players have done it. Another strong week on the greens and Cameron Champ could be a player to do it in 2022. The good news for Champ is that he's not playing for his card this week. No matter what happens this week, he will be fully exempt next season via his win in last year's 3M Open.