Ready or Not, It’s the FedEx Cup Playoffs

Posted by: mike August 24th, 2017

By Ed Travis, Golf Insiders Contributor

@EdTravisGolf

Golf-Insiders-playoffs.jpgFor the past ten years, the PGA Tour has been working diligently to give us an exciting conclusion to the season using the four tournaments in five weeks slog called the FedEx Cup playoffs. While doing so, the tour has hoped to keep our attention, even though it’s opposite the start of football season (also a slog, but that’s another column).

This scheduling is going to change with the PGA Championship moving from August to May in 2019, and the possibility of three playoff tournaments as the Tour aims to finish up by Labor Day.

For those not intimately knowledgeable with this playoff series, it begins with this week’s Northern Trust Open with a field comprised of the top 125 in the points list. Parenthetically, the field will actually be 120 players since Sergio Garcia number 22 chose not to compete and Adam Scott (66th) won’t there due to the birth of his child. Also absent due to injury are Brandt Snedeker (64th), Scott Piercy (85th) and Dominic Bozzelli (115th).

The top 100 point earners move on to the Dell Technologies Championship then the top 70 to the BMW Championship until the 30 with the highest number of points play the Tour Championship. The last man standing wins the FedEx Cup and a check for $10 million.

Picking a winner at this week’s Northern Trust is an interesting exercise, and I’m not convinced Hideki Matsuyama the FedEx Cup point leader has yet demonstrated his putting will hold up, and has the ability to win limited-field high-pressure contests-like the majors and the playoffs when only the best are playing. Jordan Spieth took home the Claret Jug in July, but his consistency leaves a lot to be desired, though it admittedly is tough to not pick him after that birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie stretch to close the final nine of The Open.

Dustin Johnson leads my list, assuming he is really healed from the freak injury on the eve of the Masters. He is the number one ranked player in the world and with his length and wedge play, he could have a field day at Glen Oaks.

Equally possible is Rory McIlroy who is the best this year from tee to green… now if he could only putt.

The sentimental favorite should be Phil Mickelson, but Lefty played poorly in the PGA and as much as I dislike saying it, his age may becoming a factor.

My, “gee, I wish he could win,” pick is Rickie Fowler who won the Honda back in the spring and had a credible finish behind his pal Justin Thomas in the PGA Championship.

The hottest player right now is a tossup between Henrik Stenson, who showed the form that won The Open in 2016, at the Wyndham Championship last week and Justin Thomas. JT’s win at the PGA, and the fact he has three other victories earlier in the season, means with a reasonable FedEx Cup, he is no doubt Player of the Year--unless Spieth can beat him out with another win in the playoffs.

Finally, my dark horse is the same player who I picked in that spot several other times in majors… Jon Rahm. He’s the complete package and maybe, just maybe, he’s learned a couple of things the past few months about controlling himself when the golf gods seemed to be conspiring against him.