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Ryan's Top 125, Sixth Edition

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Henrik Stenson is back to defend his title at the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston as the FedExCup …

Time is running out on the 2013 PGA TOUR season. The clock is ticking for those hoping to secure a 2013-14 TOUR card and a tee time at The Barclays in the FedExCup Playoffs.

At the most, players have four more tournaments to lock up any status they hope to achieve. This week is the RBC Canadian Open. The field then splits between the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and the Reno-Tahoe Open before the PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship.

Here’s what went down since we last checked in ...

Perhaps one of the most popular first-time winners in recent memory, Ken Duke, took down Chris Stroud in a playoff at the Travelers Championship. Stroud handled himself very well in coming up just short, and I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he broke through in the near future.

Bill Haas took down the field at Congressional to win the AT&T National after a number of close calls earlier this season. Roberto Castro popped up to finish second while D.H. Lee and Jason Kokrak turned plenty of heads on a solid track.

Jonas Blixt was going through a sophomore slump after winning in his rookie season, and then he stepped foot on The Old White TPC. Maybe a bigger surprise than that was the emergence of Steven Bowditch as one of four runners-up.

The John Deere Classic saw Jordan Spieth break out of a playoff with Zach Johnson and David Hearn for his “long-awaited” first PGA TOUR win. The relevance to that breakthrough was his ability to go back and gather up the bounty of FedExCup points that he stored away throughout the season as a Special Temporary Member. Now that the calculator has cooled, he currently finds himself 12th in the FEC standings.

In what may be the biggest win of his Hall of Fame career, Phil Mickelson captured the Claret Jug at Muirfield in his 20th attempt to win The Open Championship. He referred to his final-round 66 as the best of his career, and he was clearly moved by the victory. In my humble opinion, this win was a game-changer as to Lefty’s place in the history of the game.

The Sanderson Farms Championship featured a playoff between Woody Austin, Cameron Beckman and Daniel Summerhays. Austin and Beckman shared two things in common -- neither had made a cut in a PGA TOUR event in 2013 and both are multiple TOUR winners. Summerhays was arguably the hottest guy in the field that week. So who walked away with the title? Austin.  And he still hasn’t cracked my top 125.

Knowing the above, we’ve reached the point in the season to where the current FedExCup Standings has to be the leading measure of where players will finish the season. In particular, there isn’t much time for a player’s standing to fall very far in the wrong direction.

Last year, 363 points served as the cutoff for the 125th spot. That is still a nice aiming point, but there’s a chance it could take a little more than that this time around. Already, 112 guys have eclipsed that point total and the 125th spot is currently occupied by Brad Fritsch with 323 points.

Here we go:

Rank  Golfer (Previous Rank)  Comment

1  Tiger Woods (1)  Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar are within striking distance, but solid weeks at the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship should put Woods out of reach.

2  Matt Kuchar (2)  I’m banking on him slipping back ahead of Mickelson.

3  Phil Mickelson (8)  Lefty won the Claret Jug, and now I have to wonder how much the fire will burn the rest of the season.

4  Brandt Snedeker (6)  He’s flirting with playing some really good golf again, so don’t be surprised if he’s a factor to win for the second time this season at either the RBC Canadian Open or the PGA Championship.

5  Justin Rose (5)  Not much competitive golf in the last few weeks, but could make noise in several of the remaining venues.

6  Billy Horschel (3)  He’s come back to earth since his win in New Orleans, finishing T30 or worse in his last three starts.

7  Jason Day (4)  The fade isn’t a lack of confidence in him, rather he’s running out of time to move much higher than this from his current FedExCup standing of 10th.

8  Bill Haas (26)  Win at Congressional has him currently in seventh and his season trend suggests that he will pop up in a big way on one more leaderboard.

9  Adam Scott (7)  If he played 22 PGA TOUR tournaments a year he would be top five, but just doesn’t play the schedule.

10  Jordan Spieth (NR)  Hello and welcome, rookie!

11  Hunter Mahan (14)  While winning majors is a problem, he’s won the WGC-Bridgestone and WGC-Accenture Match Play so watch out for him at Firestone next week.

12  Keegan Bradley (12)  While he’s only played the PGA Championship twice, he’s got a win and a T3. Also defending at the WGC-Bridgestone. Could be a big August.

13  Henrik Stenson (40)  He’s back. All the way back.

14  Webb Simpson (9)  Hard to count on him week-to-week, but hard to count him out over the long haul.

15  Harris English (18)  Hasn’t missed a cut since his win and has back-to-back ties for 15th including at Muirfield.

16  Boo Weekley (11)  No top 25s since his win at Colonial in May.

17  Kevin Streelman (13) Fading hard, missing four cuts before a T44 at the John Deere and a T79 at The Open Championship.

18  Graeme McDowell (15) Jeez, if this guy could convert a few missed cuts to top 25s. Four top fives and four missed cuts in 10 starts.

19  Dustin Johnson (16)  Not that great of a record at Firestone CC, but it feels like he’s due for a nice week soon.

20  Jimmy Walker (31)  Very nearly broke through for the first win at The Greenbrier Classic and has put himself in contention numerous times this year.

21  Lee Westwood (17)  We will find out soon enough how he responds to his latest major disappointment.

22  Russell Henley (22)  Hasn’t played poorly, but all of his events coming in will be against stacked fields. Hard to see him moving up.

23  Steve Stricker (20)  Currently 21st in FEC points and it’s reasonable to think he plays the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship, but we never know.

24  Charles Howell III (21)  He’s been a slow fade of late with no top 10s since the Wells Fargo.

25  Chris Kirk (30)  Performed to expectations with a top 10 at the Sanderson Farms Championship, which is a good barometer headed into the end of the year.

26  Luke Donald (19)  At 58th in the current FEC standings, this big of a jump might be a reach but he should get three more starts before the Playoffs.

27  Charl Schwartzel (24)  Cracking top 15s in the last two majors, he’s teeing it up in Canada in advance of the WGC-Bridgestone and PGA.

28  Martin Laird (33)  Made his last six cuts and has evolved into a steady option as the year has progressed.

29  Graham DeLaet (64)  The Canadian will have plenty of pressure on him at his national championship. Oh, and so much for him staying under the radar so we could catch him on the cheap next year!

30  D.A. Points (25)  This is simple math. Currently at 18th, he doesn’t have time to fall any further than this.

31  Zach Johnson (42)  Peaking with a P2 at the Deere and a nice performance at Muirfield.

32  Scott Stallings (23)  He’s cooling off at a time where the fields will only get deeper.

33  Ken Duke (93)  Expect a drop off following his breakthrough win. Currently 24th in the FEC standings.

34  Chris Stroud (96)  Gave Duke all he could handle down the stretch at the Travelers and seems in the right frame of mind to pick off his first win sooner rather than later.

35  Angel Cabrera (58)  Known mainly as a big-game player, he’s enjoyed more consistency this season than he does in most.

36  Bubba Watson (34)  Had a real chance to win at TPC River Highlands, but a late collapse and a very public dressing down of his caddy saw him wind up in fourth.

37  David Lingmerth (45)  The rookie won’t go away and seems to be picking up steam. Reminds me of John Huh’s rookie year, just without the win. Yet.

38  Kevin Chappell (55)  His peaks and his valleys in 2013 have both been higher than we’ve seen in the past, which is an excellent trend.

39  Rickie Fowler (36)  A mild surprise by missing the cut at Muirfield, the fields don’t get much easier.

40  John Rollins (27)  Currently 50th in the FEC standings, his streaky and unpredictable nature still allows for another moderate move.

41  David Hearn (67)  Much like Stroud, his runner-up in a playoff at the John Deere Classic bumped him up the list of guys who should capture a trophy soon.

42  Jonas Blixt (NR)  He’s beginning to remind me of Brian Gay. His putter is deadly when on, and if the ball-striking catches a decent week he could run the tables.

43  Sang-moon Bae (32)  Missed his last four cuts and overall on a fast slide since his win at the Byron Nelson.

44  Charley Hoffman (60)  Enjoying one of his better seasons with five top 10s. Currently 45th in the FEC standings and should hang around that number entering the Playoffs.

45  Rory McIlroy (10)  He’s 55th in the FEC standings today, so this is just projecting a moderate move. It’s likely we see him at the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship before the Playoffs.

46  John Merrick (50)  This is just trying to figure out how much further he can fall mathematically before The Barclays.

47  Ryan Palmer (41)  Form is slipping, so a drop from 39th to the late 40s with some stronger fields awaiting seems likely.

48  Nick Watney (43)  No top 10s since the Wells Fargo, but a nice week at Firestone isn’t out of the question.

49  Matt Jones (78)  Scared his first win with a T2 at The Old White TPC, having arguably his best PGA TOUR season this year.

50  Ryan Moore (47)  Secured a late tee time at The Open Championship, but didn’t cash in. First TOUR win was at the 2009 Wyndham, so keep an eye on him there.

51  Fredrik Jacobson (28)  Without a top 10 since the Match Play and hasn’t cracked a top 25 since the Byron Nelson. After a great start, he looked poised for a big year but didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

52  Brian Gay (49)  Much like Merrick, it’s all about how far he can possibly fall the next four weeks. Gay is currently 41st.

53  Brendon de Jonge (35)  I found it telling that he fell off the front page of the leaderboard at the Deere on the weekend, then failed to contend at a weak Sanderson Farms Championship. If Hearn, Stroud and Jones are getting closer to a first win, BdJ sure seems a good be behind.

54  Michael Thompson (48)  Only made seven (of 17) cuts. Without his win, he’s fighting for a card.

55  Sergio Garcia (37)  Much of his season could rest on his defense at the Wyndham.

56  Roberto Castro (81)  An intelligent player, his runner-up at Congressional speaks volumes of his ability.

57  Daniel Summerhays (118)  A T9, T4, P2 run in his last three starts have him sizzling. The question is how long he can keep this up.

58  Ian Poulter (51)  A strong finish to his Open Championship had him in the thick of it until Lefty went off. Stenson’s even par would have been a little harder to post if not for Mickelson’s stranglehold and Poulter’s 1-over could have been the number.

59  Cameron Tringale (63)  After a rough spring, he’s made five of his last six cuts and looks good to hang around his current FEC standing of 59th.

60  Kyle Stanley (29)  Moved him up after a fourth at the Memorial, but the putter disappeared on him again. His 69 on Friday at Muirfield was exceptional. As the putter goes, so goes the young talent.

61  Josh Teater (52)  Only missed four cuts all year, but has just one top-25 finish since the West Coast Swing.

62  Tim Clark (46)  He might have another good one left in him this season, but his trend is headed in the wrong direction.

63  Jim Furyk (44)  His fall this year was almost predictable after his numerous near-misses in 2012 and his Ryder Cup flop. Returns to the sight of one of those letdowns next week at Firestone CC.

64  Jason Dufner (39)  A good example of a guy that played over his head in 2012 and needed a return to normalcy. I would expect 2013-14 to be a nice bounce back, but not to the heights of ’12.

65  Nicholas Thompson (86)  Don’t count him out at Glen Abbey this week. His form is excellent and he tied for fifth there in 2008.

66  David Lynn (54)  He’s expected to finally return to the U.S. for the PGA Championship after a lengthy stint in Europe.

67  Scott Piercy (53)  This week’s defender at the RBC has failed to carry over his 2012 success.

68  Bo Van Pelt (38)  Fantasy owners that were frustrated with BVP always finishing around eighth but never winning last year are likely begging for those days to return.

69  Brian Davis (68)  He is who we thought he was. Makes cuts and doesn’t stress to keep his card, but can’t seem to win.

70  K.J. Choi (62)  While Mickelson hasn’t slowed down at 43, Choi has. His best days are behind him, but he could still pop up on occasion.

71  Pat Perez (76)  Good year, but nothing special. Had him 80th in the preseason ranking, and there’s value in that kind of predictability.

72  Martin Flores (114)  Made seven of his last eight cuts with a T4 at TPC Deere Run.

73  Ernie Els (59)  Probably unfair to think he would go back-to-back at Muirfield, but he’s running out of courses that should fit his eye.

74  Patrick Reed (97)  Certainly a young gun to watch develop over the next few years, but I wish he’d get his wife (caddie) a lighter bag to carry. The bag has to weigh more than she does.

75  Richard H. Lee (92)  The guy doesn’t miss many cuts and, other than distance, doesn’t have a statistical weakness.

76  Luke Guthrie (56)  Somewhat mired in a slump, but this was the time of year when he caught fire on the Tour in 2012.

77  Marc Leishman (57)  Three missed cuts in his last four starts make that Masters run feel a long way in the past.

78  Derek Ernst (61)  Predictably, he hasn’t gotten much going since his shocking win at Quail Hollow and is on a freefall.

79  Scott Brown (66)  A T22 at the John Deere fits his M.O. of showing up in weaker fields, but that logic only leaves the Reno-Tahoe Open as a possible point grab down the stretch.

80  Lucas Glover (69)  All about the putter. Could have won the Deere if he made all of his putts inside six feet over the final two rounds, but the flat stick continues to be his Achilles' heel.

81  Stewart Cink (88)  Not all that different from K.J. Choi, Cink is past his prime in terms of having a huge year but he shows up in pockets.

82  Kevin Stadler (70)  Respectable T27 at the John Deere Classic, but no top 25s since New Orleans.

83  Brian Stuard (73)  Missed eight of his last 11 cuts before The Greenbrier Classic, then tied for sixth. That’s kind of the way that tournament works, though.

84  Bob Estes (82)  Solid record at Glen Abbey could lead to a nice week in the points immediately.

85  Morgan Hoffmann (NR)  Playing really good golf right now. If he fades down the stretch, then try and get him on the cheap in your full-season games in 2013-14.

86  Jerry Kelly (90)  Putting the finishing touches on a nice bounce-back season after finishing outside the top 125 in 2012.

87  John Huh (72)  All things considered, he’s salvaged a respectable sophomore season after breaking out in 2012.

88  Robert Garrigus (65)  Needs to hit the reset button. He’s missed four cuts with a WD and a T64 in his last six starts. He has a new baby, but I also question his health to a degree.

89  Justin Leonard (89)  Continues cashing checks, but rarely makes the top three pages of the television leaderboard once the weekend arrives.

90  Chez Reavie (NR)  Could race even higher up this list if he figures out a way to win for a second time at Glen Abbey later this week.

91  Rory Sabbatini (NR)  Back on the radar with a couple of top 20s in his last three starts.

92  Ted Potter Jr. (104)  Tied for sixth in his title defense at The Old White TPC, so consider him a horse for that course going forward.

93  James Driscoll (87)  Currently 89th in the standings with a pair of top 10s, he’s likely to enter The Barclays somewhere around his current position.

94  Jeff Overton (74)  He’s fallen on hard times of late, with no top 25s since a T7 at the Valero Texas Open.

95  Geoff Ogilvy (75)  Can’t pull himself out of what has basically been a season-long slump by his lofty standards.

96  John Senden (79)  The John Deere was an important week for him and he missed the cut. His momentum from a T15 at the U.S. Open is history.

97  Jason Kokrak (113)  Dangerous player in spurts, he was impressive with a T3 at Congressional.

98  Carl Pettersson (84)  He’s started experimenting with a short putter, so stay tuned there.

99  Nicolas Colsaerts (77)  Currently 121st in the FEC standings, but I’m optimistic when I see a T7 at the Wyndham last year.

100  Padraig Harrington (80)  When he started his year with a top 10 in a tournament he’d never seen before I was optimistic. Now I’m not.

101  D.H. Lee (NR)  The Q School medalist birdied his way to a T3 at Congressional both literally and figuratively.

102  Bryce Molder (102)  Quietly made his last four cuts, including three top 30s.

103  J.J. Henry (NR)  Scored a T5 at the Travelers and a T7 at the John Deere since we last checked in. Two missed cuts were the meat in that sandwich.

104  Brendan Steele (100)  His exemption from the 2011 Valero Texas Open win expires this season, but he’s in good shape to return to the TOUR for a fourth season in 2013-14.

105  Matt Every (98)  You’ll pull your hair out trying to figure him out weekly, but the most noticeable trend is that he fails to back up big weeks.

106  Justin Hicks (99)  Snapped a streak of two missed cuts and a WD with a T33 at TPC Deere Run. His first top 10 of the season preceded that, so maybe a little too much celebrating?

107  James Hahn (91)  He should have just stopped after the West Coast Swing. Well, he basically did.

108  Bud Cauley (85)  Among the biggest disappointments this year for gamers, still has time to salvage something but at 124th in the FEC standings he’s in legitimate jeopardy of losing his card for next year.

109  Camilo Villegas (103)  Looks locked into the Playoffs, but another nice week or two wouldn’t hurt anything.

110  Erik Compton (107)  Following a rough Spring, he’s secured checks in six of his last seven starts.

111  Charlie Beljan (83)  Gamers live on the edge with this guy. He’s made just 33 percent of his cuts in almost two seasons.

112  Martin Kaymer (106)  If the Playoffs start today, he’s out at 126th.

113  Aaron Baddeley (101)  Another one of the big head-scratchers of 2013. He’s missed his last 10 cuts! What?

114  Jeff Maggert (111)  Picked up his second top 10 of the year at the Travelers, then missed a pair of cuts. He’s safe for the Playoffs.

115  George McNeill (112)  Back in the field after pulling out of the John Deere early, his season has been otherwise very steady.

116  Johnson Wagner (NR)  Had The Greenbrier Classic in the palm of his hands and let it slip away, but it did jump him into the Playoffs in what has been an otherwise forgettable season.

117  Charlie Wi (109)  A seventh at AT&T National went a long way towards locking up his card for 2013-14. Probably doesn’t need much more than another top 30 to seal the deal.

118  William McGirt (120)  Posted a career-best runner-up at the RBC Canadian Open in 2012 and shared 26th in Mississippi last week. Currently on the right side of the bubble, but by no means safe.

119  Scott Langley (NR)  At 120th in the FEC standings and trending upward with a T33 and a T26 in the last two weeks.

120  Mark Wilson (105)  Back to math again. He’s right on the bubble and probably doesn’t need to do much more to hang on.

121  Jim Herman (NR)  He’s on the outside, but recorded the first two top 10s of his career in his last two starts.

122  Gary Woodland (115)  Another guy that likely already has the points needed, but isn’t inspiring tons of confidence at the moment.

123  Steven Bowditch (NR)  He’s T2/T12/T17 in his last three starts out of nowhere. He’s not a lock to make the Playoffs and keep his card, but is incredibly close. It would be a nice story for a guy that’s overcome plenty of tough times.

124  Brian Harman (94)  Similar to several sophomores, he hasn’t followed up a solid rookie year quite as efficiently as his first look at these courses.

125  Ben Crane (71)  Currently 117th in the FEC standings and pulled out of the RBC Canadian Open. That’s a concerning combination.

Dropped out:  Peter Hanson (95), Greg Chalmers (108), Louis Oosthuizen (110), Ross Fisher (116), Robert Karlsson (117), Vijay Singh (119), Tommy Gainey (121), Shawn Stefani (122), Jonathan Byrd (123), Henrik Norlander (124) and Justin Bolli (125)

We will check back following the Wyndham Championship to reset our expectations for the FedExCup Playoffs.

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