The FedEx Cup Playoffs tee off this week and will write the final chapter of the 2017 season. We begin with The Northern Trust in New York and finish a month from now at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia for The Tour Championship.
The Final Four. Yes, The FedEx Playoffs have arrived and it is down to the final four events of the golf season. This week's tournament has changed names many times, most recently known as The Barclays, it becomes The Northern Trust in this season's renewal and will be staged at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, New York.
After last week’s Wyndham Championship being the final opportunity for players to get into The Playoffs, we have a field of the top 125 in The FedEx Cup Standings. The top 100 from this week will advance to Round Two next week in Boston and eventually we whittle down to just the top 30 players for The Tour Championship, and the crowning of this year's FedEx Cup Champion.
Glen Oaks Club makes its debut as far as hosting a Tour event. It is a classic, long, parkland style golf course with relatively wide fairways, and very fast Poa Annua greens. Not far away in New Jersey, some players have compared it to Ridgewood Country Club, where this same tournament, then The Barclays, was staged in 2014, 2010, and 2008.
Glen Oaks underwent a redesign in 2014 and one of those involved with this was Superintendent, Craig Currier. With no course history to go off of, Currier is perhaps the biggest bit of information we can take from this week as he hails from Bethpage Black and also worked at Augusta National in the mid-nineties. While the course is not a beast like Bethpage, many players this week have commented on the similarities to Augusta National and also to Muirfield Village, where they play The Memorial. Jack Nicklaus built Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio with Augusta in mind, so players making this connection is not surprising. Talk of how finely manicured the course is and the fact that many casually refer to Glen Oaks as “The Augusta of the north,” leads us to believe that the comparisons are valid.
Glen Oaks measures nearly 7350-yards and is a Par 70. After a long, hot Summer, it will play firm and fast and should cater to players of all shapes and sizes and not bombers only. As is true with Augusta, Ball Striking and Scrambling ought to be key ingredients this week.
Hideki Matsuyama (+1209 Bookmaker) It is hard to imagine the FedEx Cup points leader not competing in just about any event these days. He comes off of a 5th at The PGA Championship and a win at WGC Bridgestone. He was 11th at The Masters this year and has won The Memorial. The course should suit his eye.
Jordan Spieth (+12.93 Pinnacle) If the golf course plays a lot like Augusta National as the reports say, Spieth, being the Masters king, should feel right at home. Comfortable on Poa Annua greens too as Spieth won earlier this year at Pebble Beach.
Dustin Johnson (+14.93 Pinnacle) DJ is definitely a good Poa Annua putter too and we did finally see some spark out of the world number one with a closing 67 on Sunday at The PGA Championship. His back may finally be in order again as his last three starts have gone 8-17-13.
Rory McIlroy (+14.93 Pinnacle) It is hard to believe that Rory McIlroy, ranked number 4 in the world, comes into this week 44th in The FedEx Cup Standings. He is the defending FedEx Cup Champion, by the way but did begin The Playoffs with a 31st place finish last year at Bethpage.
Jason Day (+19.85 Pinnacle) Day was 4th last year at Bethpage for this event, has a solid track record at Augusta National, took 2nd at Ridgewood in 2014, and is a member at Muirfield Village where he finished 13th at this year’s Memorial. Despite a very inconsistent season, he seems to be finding a rhythm as of late.
Brooks Koepka (+2412 Bookmaker) Koepka has not been a stalwart in The FedEx Playoff Series but that was also before he really launched himself into the big boy conversation with his play this season and U.S. Open victory. He was 11th this year at Augusta.
The Long Shots
Matt Kuchar (+4198 Bookmaker) An excellent scrambler, Kuchar has a great track record at The Masters, finishing 4th this year. He was also 5th at Ridgewood in 2014 and has won Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament before. Kuchar has been solid in The Playoffs with seven straight trips to The Tour Championship.
Patrick Reed (+3875 Bookmaker) Reed is your defending champion this week, winning at Bethpage Black last year. He hasn’t ever been brilliant at The Masters or The Memorial but has played some very good golf as of late, finishing 2nd at The PGA and 13th at The U.S. Open, with a Top 5 and two Top 20’s in between.
Ryan Moore (+9000 Bookmaker) Moore battled a shoulder injury mid-season but that seems to be well behind him, going 28-13-24 in his last three starts. He was 7th at Bethpage last year, 9th this year at Augusta, and has three Top 20’s to go along with three Top 10’s at Muirfield Village.
Rickie Fowler (+1509 Bookmaker) Rickie gave it everything he had two Sundays ago at The PGA Championship, eventually finishing 5th but it was his 2-over par 73 on Saturday that ruined his chances. I feel like he is ready to rebound from that small glitch that held him back in what was otherwise a very well-played Championship. Fowler has a remarkable six Top 10 finishes in his last eight starts. He ranks first on Tour in Strokes Gained Putting, Scoring, and is 4th in Scrambling. He was 7th last year at Bethpage and 9th at Ridgewood in 2014. Rickie took 2nd at The Memorial this year and 11th at The Masters. While this isn’t a Major, a FedEx Cup Championship may come first for Fowler and I like him to get off to a good start in The Playoffs this week.