August 16, 2022
By Justin Ray, Twenty First Group, PGATOUR.COM
- Joohyung “Tom” Kim will qualify for the TOUR Championship with a strong week in Delaware. (Tracy Wilcox/Getty Images)
The dramatic finish at the FedEx St. Jude Championship kicked an already rollicking postseason into high gear. Just 70 players have moved on to the penultimate FedExCup Playoffs event, with those around the 30th-place mark needing a big week at the BMW Championship to move on to next week’s TOUR Championship.
Twenty First Group ran through 10,000 simulations of this weekend’s BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club to determine the probability of each player moving on to East Lake. Let’s look more closely at some of the names on the bubble with the BMW set to begin Thursday in Delaware.
25. Tom Kim
TOUR Championship probability: 61.6%
One of the best stories of the summer has been the rapid rise of affable 20-year-old Joohyung “Tom” Kim, who will qualify for the TOUR Championship with a strong week in Delaware. At the Wyndham Championship, Kim became the youngest player born outside the United States to win a PGA TOUR event in 99 years. Now, the first player born in the 2000s to win a TOUR event can solidify his 2023 plans by making it to East Lake.
Since the U.S. Open, Kim is ranked fourth on the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach, fifth in Strokes Gained: Total and 12th in Strokes Gained: Putting. He enters the week with 15 consecutive rounds at par or better, tied for the second-longest active run on TOUR. He should be in Atlanta next week, capping off an ascendant, exciting first chapter to a promising pro career.
Tom Kim: PGA TOUR Ranks Since U.S. Open
|Strokes Gained: Approach
|Strokes Gained: Total
|Strokes Gained: Putting
26. Davis Riley
TOUR Championship probability: 46.3%
Had this year’s rookie class not been so strong, Riley could have been the front-runner for Rookie of the Year. Six top-ten finishes, including a playoff loss to Sam Burns at the Valspar Championship, have him on the precipice of a spot in East Lake next week. His brilliant run of six straight top-15 finishes from late April to early June had everything short of a breakthrough victory. Riley is averaging positive Strokes Gained in every measured discipline, something few rookies do over the course of an entire PGA TOUR season.
The math gives Riley about a coin-flip’s chance at moving on, but history says his chances are stronger than that. Riley has a four-spot buffer between himself and 30th, and there has never been a year where five players jumped from outside the top 30 into the East Lake circle the week of the BMW Championship.
27. Sahith Theegala
TOUR Championship probability: 24.6%
With 51 rounds in the 60s he’s tops on TOUR, ahead of even fellow rookie Riley (47). Three or four more of those sub-70 scores this week and Theegala can likely punch a ticket to Georgia for the TOUR Championship.
That Theegala’s probability to advance to East Lake is under 25 percent testifies to the strength of the players behind him. Multiple players have worked their way into the FedExCup top 30 at the BMW every year since 2007. Theegala, who tied for 13th in Memphis, will need to maintain his strong play to move on.
28. Kevin Kisner
TOUR Championship probability: 24.7%
After Scottie Scheffler beat match play buzzsaw Kisner in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play final in Austin in March, Kisner was firmly in the top 15 in the FedExCup standings. A tough start to the summer pushed him outside the top-30 bubble, but a tie for 20th last week has him in strong position to play in the TOUR Championship for the sixth time in his career.
Kisner is 10th on TOUR this season in Strokes Gained: Putting and was fifth in the field in that stat in Memphis. He has averaged more than a stroke gained putting per round in all four of his stroke-play top-10s this season.
29. Corey Conners
TOUR Championship probability: 24.7%
Though he hasn’t bagged as many high finishes this season (three top-10s) as last (eight top-10s), the metrics behind Corey Conners’ 2021-22 are very strong. He’s among the top 20 on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green for the fourth consecutive season. The only players he’s trailing in greens in regulation this season are Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. And for the first time in his PGA TOUR career, he’s averaging positive Strokes Gained: Putting over the course of the season.
Conners is trying to make it to East Lake for the third time in the last four seasons.
Most Strokes Gained: Ball Striking Per Round - Last 4 Seasons
|*Minimum 50 starts in span
30. J.J. Spaun
TOUR Championship probability: 12.7%
Spaun had a one-shot lead going into the final round at the FedEx St. Jude but struggled to a Sunday 78 and a T42 finish. After leading the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green through 54 holes, he lost 5-plus strokes to the field in that category Sunday, altering the trajectory of his playoff possibilities.
But all is certainly not lost, as Spaun enters the week as the last man in the field at East Lake. Even with his final round last week, Spaun is a combined 20 under in his last 10 rounds played. On the season he is up nearly 100 spots from 2020-21 in both scoring average and Strokes Gained: Putting. With last weekend in the rearview Spaun has the chance to make the TOUR championship for the first time in his career.
37. Shane Lowry
TOUR Championship probability: 33.2%
Our statistical models give Lowry the highest probability of any player starting the week outside the top 30 to move on. At 37th, the 2019 Open Champion has some work to do: over the last 10 years, an average of just 1.4 players per season have moved from 37th or lower at the BMW into the top 30 to reach East Lake.
Multiple high finishes against elite fields early in the year (2nd at The Honda Classic, T3 at The Masters) have buoyed Lowry’s 2022 campaign. Entering May, he ranked fourth on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Total (1.66) and sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach (0.92). Since then, however, he’s down nearly a stroke per round in SG: Total (0.68) and his approach gains have been cut in half (0.46). More than 80 percent of Lowry’s FedExCup points this season were earned before May 1.
Still, the ceiling for Lowry is always high, and several of his underlying approach-play numbers give promise. Lowry is among the season leaders on TOUR in proximity to the hole (2nd) and fairway proximity (3rd) and should have plenty more birdie opportunities this week in Delaware.