Ryan's Top 125: FEC Playoffs

Ryan O'Sullivan
Rotoworld
Ryan's Top 125: FEC Playoffs
Although 94th in the FedExCup standings, Nick Watney (pictured) is rounding into form entering the Playoffs. Ryan O'Sullivan ranks the 125 qualifiers

Cue the infamous Jim Mora “Playoffs” rant, because it’s time to talk about the FedExCup Playoffs.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. The top 125 players on the FedExCup standings at the end of the Wyndham Championship have qualified for the Playoffs that begin with this week's Barclays. Following The Barclays, the top 100 will move on to the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top 70 after its conclusion head to the BMW Championship. Ultimately, the top 30 following the BMW meet at East Lake Golf Club for the TOUR Championship to decide the winner of the FedExCup.

If you place a strong emphasis on course history, the Playoffs might drive you mad. Ridgewood Country Club serves as the host to The Barclays and has been out of the rotation since 2010. Cherry Hills Country Club will be host to the BMW, but the history at this course is largely a smattering of USGA events, including Phil Mickelson’s U.S. Amateur win back in 1990. Fortunately, TPC Boston and East Lake are the familiar sites of the Deutsche Bank and Playoffs finale, respectively.

The biggest wild card for this year’s Playoffs involves those players already locked into the Ryder Cup. Sergio Garcia has already commented that he may lighten his schedule leading up to Gleneagles in an effort to stay fresh. Will Rory McIlroy do the same? Will Matt Kuchar take it easy to make sure his back is good for the Ryder Cup? These are all valid questions that make several of these guys riskier-than-usual buys.

Before we dive into the rankings, let’s clarify what this is and what this isn’t. This is NOT a prediction of where everyone will finish in the final FedExCup ranking. If it was, I would not be ranking Dustin Johnson 125th (because a virtual lock to survive the first three rounds despite sitting out). Rather, this is a wide brush stroke attempting to assign value to players across all relevant formats.

For example, a player who enters the Playoffs at 120th on the points list, but stands a reasonable chance at making the cut at The Barclays, could prove more valuable than a guy who is 86th and in bad form who misses the first two cuts. The player in 120th may move only to 105th and miss out on the second tournament, but the four rounds he plays at Ridgewood could add up to a better return than the four rounds another guy plays split between two courses.

Of course, knowing a guy will tee it up in the no-cut BMW Championship due to his current FedExCup standing is extremely valuable for obvious reasons. There is value to a player who is a lock to get two starts and likely to snare a third. Even if in bad form, that player is essentially like buying a lottery ticket. Maybe he gets lucky. More starts are better than less, not to mention the BMW is a no-cut event. Confused yet?

In addition to the ranking for each player, the number in parenthesis represents the player’s FEC standing entering The Barclays.

Let’s do this.

Rank  Golfer (FedExCup ranking)  Comment

1  Rory McIlroy (1)  Even if I found out that he was playing only two events, he would still be numero uno.

2  Adam Scott (15)  His ability to turn out top-10 finishes at ease is a bonus, and he’s a past winner at TPC Boston and East Lake.

3  Jim Furyk (5)  Won the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup title in 2010. He's also playing incredibly well right now.

4  Rickie Fowler (16)  His time with Butch Harmon really clicked on the biggest stages this season, snaring top-five finishes in each of the four majors. He could continue that run in the Playoffs.

5  Jimmy Walker (2)  A bit of a safety pick in this spot as he is a virtual lock to play all four events and crack the top 25 with regularity. He will be well worth the investment if a couple of those top 25s turn into top 10s.

6  Phil Mickelson (45)  Why not? He’s playing his best golf of the year and is still motivated to nab a win in 2013-14. Should he make it to East Lake, he will be one of the favorites at that venue.

7  Henrik Stenson (70)  The Swede heated up this time last year, and a top five at the PGA has him riding high into The Barclays.

8  Bubba Watson (3)  Similar to Walker, the lefty's true value lies in knowing that he will be around for all four legs.

9  Jordan Spieth (8)  Form has cooled a bit over the summer, but he nudges out a few players with other concerns.

10  Sergio Garcia (7)  It’s all about his schedule. If he plays three events (including the TOUR Championship), his form dictates that he is worthy of this spot. If he plays only two, this could be a bit high.

11  Matt Kuchar (4)  The back spasms that forced his withdrawal from the PGA Championship were a surprise to many. It also brings into question how much rest he will require ahead of the Ryder Cup.

12  Ryan Moore (19)  Sitting solidly inside the top 30 entering the Playoffs. He cracked the top 20 in four of his last seven PGA TOUR starts.

13  Patrick Reed (9)  He’s very dangerous in the Playoffs in both a good and bad way due to how quickly he can heat up and cool off.

14  Justin Rose (18)  I’ll sign up for a ball-striker in his prime who has 12 top 25s and seven top 10s on TOUR in 2013-14.

15  Marc Leishman (27)  Trended well into the PGA before disappointing, and the pressure of not trying to make a Ryder Cup impression could free him up to play well.

16  Graeme McDowell (43)  Five consecutive top-10 finishes across the globe, including a win in France, before his T47 on a Valhalla course that was probably a little too long for him to reasonably contend.

17  Brandt Snedeker (55)  Putting up solid returns of late due to his putter getting back on track, and he is doing his best to impress Tom Watson. If the pressure of trying to earn a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup doesn’t hinder him, he is a solid buy.

18  Hunter Mahan (62)  He’s never missed out on the TOUR Championship since the inception of the FedExCup. A T15 at Firestone and a T7 at Valhalla have him trending incredibly well into the Playoffs.

19  Keegan Bradley (23)  He made this a tough call by laying an egg at the PGA Championship, possibly impacted by the pressure of trying to make the Ryder Cup team, but he outclasses some of those currently above him on the list and should find a way to emerge with some nice finishes.

20  Chris Kirk (10)  Hasn’t popped the top on a top 10 since a T4 at Memorial, but he is a lock to play the first three events and should play all four.

21  Zach Johnson (11)  Had it not been for a runner-up finish in the John Deere Classic, his résumé would be fairly bleak for the last few months.

22  Webb Simpson (13)  Strong showing at the Wyndham has him riding high entering the Playoffs, but he’s battled consistency most of the season.

23  Brendon Todd (12)  Was one of the hottest players in the world earlier this summer before a step up in scheduling proved a bit costly on the finishes.

24  Martin Kaymer (14)  Has been a disappointment since winning the U.S. Open in a landslide, but that serves as a reminder of what can happen if he puts together a big week at the right time. Has also battled shoulder discomfort.

25  Jason Day (34)  If he’s healthy and tees it up every week, he would be a steal in this slot.

26  Bill Haas (24)  While he hasn’t provided the fireworks of some of his previous seasons, he is a cut-making machine. He’s the kind of player that could top-25 his way into East Lake.

27  Charl Schwartzel (60)  Seems to be peaking as his last four starts have gone T7-T43-T4-T15 at The Open Championship, RBC Canadian Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship, respectively.

28  Nick Watney (94)  Was quietly finding his form before the Wyndham Championship, but now the secret is out. There is some immediate pressure on him to play well at The Barclays due to his current standing.

29  Harris English (17)  The past few months haven’t been his best, but he is still poised to make a lengthy run.

30  Graham DeLaet (28)  His T7 at the RBC Canadian Open and T15 at the PGA Championship are great signs. If the putter gets remotely hot, he’s dangerous.

31  Kevin Streelman (39)  Offers top-five finishes in both of his past trips to Ridgewood (2008 and 2010), which hosts this year’s Barclays.

32  Kevin Chappell (68)  A T13 at the PGA Championship was the culmination of a solid stretch of tournaments and has him trending well into the Playoffs.

33  Kevin Na (20)  Snapped a string of six consecutive made cuts at Valhalla two weeks ago.

34  Ryan Palmer (30)  Time will tell if he can maintain the momentum of a T5 at Valhalla.

35  Tim Clark (29)  Consistently undervalued due to his lack of length off the tee, but ranks high in approach proximity from the longer distances.

36  Matt Every (25)  Form isn’t appealing, but he’s one of the few players on TOUR that doesn’t offer clues to future success based on recent performance.

37  John Senden (26)  Hasn’t cracked the top 25 since his T5 at Colonial, but surprisingly it’s been the ball-striking, and not the putter, causing him issues at times this season.

38  Hideki Matsuyama (22)  He was among the classier players at last week’s Wyndham, but missed the cut. Tough to interpret that result.

39  Brian Harman (21)  Has failed to back up his breakthrough win at the John Deere Classic with any solid finishes.

40  Freddie Jacobson (38)  The Junkman was a major part of the story at Sedgefield, but has a poor history at Ridgewood. We’ll see if form trumps history later this week.

41  Kevin Stadler (31)  Baby Stads tied for fourth at TPC Boston last year, so he’s worth the investment at this slot for that reason alone.

42  Andrew Svoboda (80)  Makes his first foray into the FedExCup Playoffs and has shown spurts of potential over the last 13 months between his time on the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour. Could be a dark horse.

43  Ian Poulter (78)  Hard to tell if the upcoming Ryder Cup will be a distraction or a motivation, making this spot risky, but he should be worth a roll of the dice.

44  Gary Woodland (32)  Since June, he’s become the definition of mediocre.

45  Charles Howell III (33)  Had no business missing the cut at Sedgefield last week. Known more as a fast starter to the season than solid closer, so his real value is knowing he will get three starts.

46  Kevin Kisner (93)  Risky due to current standing, but played well at the Wyndham. Not a bad flier if that’s the order of the day.

47  Charley Hoffman (35)  Limping towards the finish line, but has played reasonably well at the Deutsche Bank Championship over the years.

48  Matt Jones (40)  Made his last four PGA TOUR cuts, but nothing inside the top 30.

49  J.B. Holmes (36)  Three top 30s in his last six starts suggests that there is a chance he could put it all together for one of the Playoff events.

50  George McNeill (41)  The feel-good story at The Greenbrier Classic is mostly known for his work on Bermuda greens in Florida and similar climates. It would be a mild surprise if he did much more than make a few cuts.

51  Justin Hicks (44)  This represents a step up in class from his regular schedule, but his form has been solid leading into the Playoffs. Solo third at the RBC Canadian Open and runner-up at the Barracuda Championship in recent starts.

52  Camilo Villegas (37)  Many players experience a hangover period following a win. Since it’s been four years since his last title, a letdown isn’t out of the question.

53  Seung-yul Noh (42)  A T30 at Congressional and T37 at Firestone could bode well for some of the longer courses in the Playoffs. Good enough ball-striker to contend a time or two.

54  Angel Cabrera (56)  A true wildcard. There’s nothing else to say.

55  Luke Donald (66)  While this season hasn’t met his standards, at least he has the experience of having been in this situation many times.

56  Billy Horschel (69)  Gut feelings can get a person in trouble, but it feels like he’s due.

57  Brendan Steele (67)  A couple of T5s late in June are growing smaller in the rearview mirror, but the ball-striking is good enough to compete.

58  Brian Stuard (47)  After a string of six consecutive missed cuts, he bounced back with a 72-MC-T32 run at the Barracuda Championship, PGA Championship and Wyndham Championship, respectively.

59  Robert Streb (84)  First look at the Playoffs could be memorable. Enters with back-to-back top 20s and could be this year’s Roberto Castro. Castro made it to East Lake a year ago.

60  Bo Van Pelt (104)  Dangerous going with someone outside of the top 100 this high, because a missed cut at The Barclays and he’s done, but has a T7 and a T14 in his last three starts. He could be on to something.

61  Jhonattan Vegas (108)  Like BVP, this is digging deeper than what is comfortable for many, but the reward could be big. Vegas tied for eighth at Sedgefield last week and shared third at the John Deere four starts back.

62  Russell Knox (48)  Posted a couple of top 30s before a missed cut at the PGA. The question is how he will handle these elite fields.

63  Chris Stroud (51)  Ten top 25s in 22 starts speak for themselves.

64  K.J. Choi (54)  Hasn’t cracked a top 60 since his T2 at the Travelers, and the 44-year-old is now much less consistent than he once was, but it is entirely possible that he finds moderate success in one of the first two or three tournaments.

65  Ben Martin (58)  Made seven consecutive cuts with bookend T3s between the RBC Heritage and Quicken Loans National, but has faded since. Still learning his way around the PGA TOUR and the Playoffs is a new experience. Has the tools necessary to succeed.

66  Cameron Tringale (61)  Perhaps the golfing gods will be on his side after an after-the-fact disqualification at the PGA Championship.

67  Daniel Summerhays (49)  Made eight out of his last nine cuts, so his consistency should earn him a tee time in the first three legs of the FEC Playoffs.

68  Russell Henley (50)  Last top 25 was a T17 at THE PLAYERS. The good news is, he handled himself very well in a premier event at TPC Sawgrass. The bad news is obvious.

69  Scott Langley (73)  While his length is a problem on longer tracks, his top 30s in four of his last five starts are impossible to ignore.

70  Carl Pettersson (79)  Can be a streaky player, so his T18 at the Wyndham could easily carry over into a big week at The Barclays.

71  William McGirt (81)  Coming off a top 10 at Sedgefield, time will tell if he stays hot. Had a deep run in 2012, but missed both of his Playoff cuts last season.

72  Shawn Stefani (83)  Great sophomore season boosts him into the FedExCup Playoffs. Made just 15 starts in the regular season.

73  Steven Bowditch (52)  Extremely hard to peg on a weekly basis, making him a true risk-reward player for the last four events.

74  Scott Brown (53)  Since his T5 at the John Deere, he’s gone T20-T46-MC in the last three starts.

75  Will Mackenzie (46)  Missed 10 of his last 11 cuts, but it’s possible he will get deep into the Playoffs due to his early heavy lifting.

76  Jerry Kelly (64)  Securing paychecks in his last six starts is reason enough to keep him from fading any further.

77  David Hearn (82)  Cashed in nine of his last 11 cuts, meaning he should be able to slot into an area near where he now resides on the list.

78  Billy Hurley III (87)  Needs to find the magic that produced a T8-T4 run at Congressional and The Old White TPC, as he’s gone MC-T64-MC in his last three starts.

79  Luke Guthrie (95)  Quietly a hot hand, finishing T26-T27-MC-T24 in his last four starts. Final-round 65 at the Wyndham capped off four rounds in the 60s.

80  Lee Westwood (107)  The pressure is on just to get out of The Barclays alive, but his solid T19-T15 run at the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship offer hope for a nice Playoff run. Could be an excellent value at this slot.

81  Jason Bohn (59)  Missed five of his last nine cuts, so there are other options with more attractive form.

82  Erik Compton (65)  Since his remarkable T2 at the U.S. Open, he’s missed four out of five cuts.

83  Brendon de Jonge (71)  While he’s never been regarded as a closer, his value lies in his consistency. He’s made 12 of his last 14 cuts, but inexplicably missed the weekend at the Wyndham last week.

84  Pat Perez (74)  On a steady slide, missing four of his last seven cuts and without a top-40 finish since a T18 at the RBC Heritage. The sweet spot of his schedule appears to have passed.

85  Jonas Blixt (92)  While he’s done next to nothing on the PGA TOUR since his T2 at the Masters, he is a great example of a guy that putts well enough to be dangerous any given week. And while he might not make a cut, he at least offers the upside of a huge week.

86  Retief Goosen (96)  Quietly made 13 consecutive cuts dating back to a T7 at the Shell Houston Open.

87  Robert Garrigus (76)  Not playing all that well, but length is often an advantage at TPC Boston, and he has that to spare.

88  Chesson Hadley (72)  Fallen off the map since his breakthrough win in Puerto Rico. Missed 10 of his last 11 cuts. Only value is that he is certain to make two starts.

89  Scott Stallings (77)  While he’s missed four of his last five cuts, he’s the kind of player that can pop up out of nowhere and win.

90  Michael Putnam (89)  Made his last six cuts, highlighted by a T4 at the RBC Canadian Open.

91  Geoff Ogilvy (90)  We’ll see if his recent win in Reno leads to solid returns in the Playoffs.

92  Ernie Els (91)  A popular pick at the Wyndham after his top 10 at the PGA, he failed to live up to the expectations and looked like the player that has been below average for the better part of 2013-14.

93  Ryo Ishikawa (75)  Last seven TOUR starts have gone T75-MC-T57-MC-MC-MC-T70.

94  John Huh (99)  It doesn’t take a particularly low number to survive Ridgewood in The Barlcays, and his tee-to-green accuracy should at least result in a payday and a trip to TPC Boston.

95  Jason Kokrak (85)  Missed the cut in the PGA in his first start back from surgery after THE PLAYERS. Should make it to the Deutsche Bank Championship for a second start regardless of his finish at The Barclays.

96  Jeff Overton (86)  His T32 at the Wyndham highlights a run of five consecutive made cuts.

97  Vijay Singh (88)  Winner of The Barclays in 2008, which was held at this week’s venue. So you’re telling me there’s a chance?

98  Rory Sabbatini (97)  Has a T24 and a T5 in his last two trips to Ridgewood, so he stands a reasonable chance at advancing to a second Playoffs start.

99  Stuart Appleby (98)  Broke a streak of three missed cuts with a T38 at Sedgefield last week. Likely needs to at least make the cut at The Barclays to prevent being leapfrogged and pushed outside the top 100.

100  Andres Romero (110)  Made his last six cuts and has the hot hand coming off a T14 at the Wyndham Championship last week.

101  David Toms (112)  Tossing out his WD at the Barracuda Championship, his last three starts went T26-T13-T18. The balky back is a concern in terms of a deep run.

102  Stewart Cink (109)  Made 19 of 23 cuts this season, so he offers value in the first leg of the Playoffs even if he doesn’t advance.

103  Ben Crane (63)  Despite being a lock to qualify for the first two Playoff events, his recent penchant for back problems is a concern in terms of his production.

104  Paul Casey (118)  Pulled himself off the bubble with a T18 at the Wyndham Championship, moving from 125th to 118th. Needs a big week to advance, but did tie for seventh and 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and ’10 respectively.

105  Brian Davis (100)  Has a smaller mountain to climb to earn a tee time at TPC Boston, and is known for finishing in the top-30 to top-40 range in tournaments without ever contending.

106  Louis Oosthuizen (123)  His class offers the tease of a big week any time, but the fact is that he rarely delivers.

107  Brice Garnett (117)  The rookie can now free himself up and have fun, as his status is secure for 2014-15 and nobody expects him to do anything special this week. Adding Kip Henley to the bag due to Brian Gay’s absence from the Playoffs will keep the mood light.

108  Michael Thompson (106)  Missed three of his last five cuts, so form isn’t on his side entering The Barclays.

109  Aaron Baddeley (102)  Since his solo fourth at the Travelers, he’s missed his subsequent four cuts.

110  Martin Flores (101)  Since his T19 at the Memorial, he has missed four of six cuts with nothing better than a T65.

111  Justin Leonard (115)  Since his T3 at the Humana Challenge, he hasn’t sniffed a top 25 but has made plenty of cuts.

112  Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (119)  Similar to Oosthuizen, the hope is that the world-class player shows up big in a PGA TOUR event.

113  Ricky Barnes (105)  Perhaps this is too much of a fade, as he went T8 at the Barracuda and T24 at the Wyndham. Has plenty of work to do to advance to TPC Boston.

114  Sang-moon Bae (120)  The only man to move from outside of the top 125 to safety at the Wyndham Championship last week, he has his work cut out for him to do the same this week.

115  James Hahn (121)  Has been largely an afterthought since his T6 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in early June.

116  Troy Merritt (111)  Made six out of his last seven cuts beginning with a solo second at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but has cooled to finish outside of the top 50 in his last two.

117  Boo Weekley (113)  Awful form and missed both of his cuts at Ridgewood. Run away.

118  Tim Wilkinson (114)  Considering the weakness of the field and the Modified Stableford scoring system, let’s not get too excited about his T8 at the Barracuda Championship.

119  Danny Lee (116)  Three top 25s and a lone top 10 in 26 starts are nothing to get excited about given the ground he has to make up to advance out of the first round.

120  Bryce Molder (122)  In his last eight starts he has four missed cuts and two top-15 finishes. It’s hard to formulate a game plan around that.

121  Morgan Hoffmann (124)  Lucky to be in the Playoffs after an untimely missed cut at the Wyndham Championship with everything on the line.

122  Robert Allenby (125)  He has a chip and a chair.

123  Jason Dufner (57)  It’s fair to expect him to skip the FEC Playoffs in order to rest his ailing neck, as he is not in the field at The Barclays.

124  Steve Stricker (103)  Kind of hard for him to advance this week when he isn’t in the field.

125  Dustin Johnson (6)  If this needs an explanation, you’re reading the wrong article.

Best of luck to all!