Pressure is beginning to mount for those not safely inside the top 125 of the FedExCup (FEC) Standings as starts are becoming a bit more precious. For the casual golf fan, the U.S. Open marks the half-way point of the season. In reality, 24 weeks are in the books with only nine to play. One of those is this week’s Travelers Championship.
Despite two majors and a World Golf Championships event in this condensed time frame, the rank-and-file players should get plenty of opportunities to compete. The Sanderson Farms Championship is riding opposite The Open Championship and the Reno-Tahoe Open sits concurrent the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Even those fully exempt members at the lower half of the reshuffle should pick up starts at the Travelers, The Greenbrier Classic, John Deere Classic, Sanderson Farms, RBC Canadian Open and Reno-Tahoe without a problem. The AT&T National and the Wyndham Championship could be a little stingier.
Using 2012’s FEC standings as a barometer, all of those with 363 points or more should be in the field at The Barclays and safely holding a 2013-14 PGA TOUR card at season’s end. That puts Roberto Castro (367 points and currently in 90th) as the last man to the good, leaving 35 spots still up for grabs.
Here’s what happened since we last checked in:
While his form gave us no warning, Sang-Moon Bae popped the cap on his first PGA TOUR victory at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He held off major champions Keegan Bradley by two and Charl Schwartzel by three, respectively. Many people will remember this as the tournament Schwartzel gave away due to an inability to make short-range putts on Sunday, but Bae’s final-round, 1-under-par 69 didn’t make it easy on anyone.
A week later, Boo Weekley bested Matt Kuchar to win his first tournament not named the Heritage with a victory at Colonial. It's ironic that Boo has slipped on a tartan jacket for each of his three TOUR wins. Masters bets anyone? This also marked the first leg of a two week period of domination for Matt Kuchar.
With everyone expecting Tiger Woods to walk away from Muirfield Village with his fourth PGA TOUR win of 2013, a funny thing happened. He played horribly over the weekend and finished tied for 65th while Kuchar grinned his way to a second win of the season.
Already considered one of the best players on TOUR without a win, Harris English shed that title in just his sophomore season with a two-stroke win over Scott Stallings and Phil Mickelson. It would be an omen of things to come for Mickelson, and English certainly hopes the same can be said for him.
Mickelson entered the U.S. Open as a hot name and didn’t disappoint. He led or shared the lead after each of the first three rounds at Merion. When he jarred a wedge for an eagle on the par-4 10th to reclaim the lead in the final round, it looked like destiny was finally with Mickelson at a U.S. Open. Turns out that was partially correct. His destiny seems to be that of a runner-up, falling to Justin Rose by two strokes and sharing second with Jason Day. If you missed it, Rose’s play on the 72nd hole was nothing short of perfect.
At this point you’ve probably skipped what I’m about to write and jumped straight into the rankings, but if you’re still with me I’ll throw one more note your way. Because of where we are in the season, the current FEC Standings were weighed much more heavily than in the past. Players in this snapshot are falling more in line with where they are in the standings rather than vaulting them up or down based on expected future results.
Here we go:
Rank Golfer (Previous Rank) Comment
1 Tiger Woods (1) Disappointing results the last few outings, but well out in front with plenty of nice courses that fit his eye remaining on the schedule. Out until The Open with a strained left elbow, so he'll miss only one start (AT&T National).
2 Matt Kuchar (10) A runner-up at Colonial and a win at the Memorial now make him the obvious No. 2.
3 Billy Horschel (8) His T10 at the St. Jude and T4 at the U.S. Open make it crystal clear that he will not be satisfied or rest on his laurels.
4 Jason Day (7) Nearly picked up his first major at the U.S. Open. Instead, shared second in what could wind up being a career year for the young Aussie.
5 Justin Rose (11) Broke through with his first major championship title at Merion. That could free him up for a sprint to East Lake.
6 Brandt Snedeker (3) Struggling to find consistency of late, but still flashes signs that another win in 2013 is possible. Keep an eye on his health in weekly games.
7 Adam Scott (4) If he played with any regularity, he could challenge for the top two or three. He’s a great play in several of the FedExCup Playoff events.
8 Phil Mickelson (13) He’s a nightmare to project week-to-week, but having a great season when you consider his full body of work.
9 Webb Simpson (16) He’s sort of the ultimate safe pick, much like Matt Kuchar was before he exploded into a completely different category.
10 Rory McIlroy (2) The fade has officially happened. Now watch him win his next two starts.
11 Boo Weekley (46) A healthy and confident Boo will give the British media plenty to enjoy at Muirfield should he gain entry into The Open Championship.
12 Keegan Bradley (12) Results have been a bit erratic of late, but no reason to think he doesn’t still have a few big weeks in him between now and The Barclays.
13 Kevin Streelman (6) His magical horseshoe must have dropped from somewhere, as he’s missed his last three cuts. The last time that happened was the end of 2011/start of 2012.
14 Hunter Mahan (21) Played his final four holes at the U.S. Open in 4-over-par when he had a chance to win. Might get well at the Travelers where he is a past winner and two-time runner-up.
15 Graeme McDowell (5) One of the favorites at Merion suffered an unexpected early exit. Seven double bogeys will have that kind of effect.
16 Dustin Johnson (9) Seems to be all about focus with his best efforts centered around his build-up to the majors.
17 Lee Westwood (24) Continues to knock on the door with solid finishes seemingly every week.
18 Harris English (75) His win at TPC Southwind could open the door for more high finishes in the near future. No reason he can’t be similar to Billy Horschel very soon.
19 Luke Donald (14) Despite his Sunday letdown at Merion, it was still his first top 10 in a U.S. Open.
20 Steve Stricker (17) Sounds like he’s not playing The Open Championship (may have missed the entry deadline), but will play the John Deere. You don’t have to be a long-time golf fan to know he owns TPC Deere Run.
21 Charles Howell III (23) While there’s no reason to think he’s going to win soon, there’s also no reason to think he’s going to lose his consistency down the stretch.
22 Russell Henley (19) Still trying to learn the book on the rookie. Picked up an impressive T6 at the Memorial in a stacked field.
23 Scott Stallings (85) He’s had three top-four finishes since we last checked in, and has The Greenbrier in a few weeks where he picked up his first PGA TOUR win in 2011. Don’t let his T56 in his title defense scare you away from him at The Old White TPC this time around.
24 Charl Schwartzel (28) Looked poised to race Mickelson to the finish line at Merion, but fell off the map in the final round. Still a contender every time he tees it up.
25 D.A. Points (18) Not particularly enamored with him missing his last three cuts, but currently sits 12th in the FedExCup Standings and there just isn’t time for him to fall much further than this.
26 Bill Haas (20) Probably squandered more than his share of chances this season, but still has time for that one magical week. Missed the cut at Merion.
27 John Rollins (62) He’s been a top-25 machine (10) this year, and now has picked up a couple of top-six finishes in his last two starts. Don’t be shocked if he wins the Travelers.
28 Fredrik Jacobson (34) Another guy that’s been steady, but not spectacular, and another guy that is a serious threat at the Travelers.
29 Kyle Stanley (55) Roared to life with three top-six finishes in his last six starts. His putting stats over that time period have been much more palatable than his sour start to the year with the flat stick.
30 Chris Kirk (22) Still having a nice year, but hasn’t had a top 10 since Pebble Beach. He’s been a nice season-long own for gamers.
31 Jimmy Walker (26) Finally missed his first cut of the season at TPC Southwind and hasn’t had a top 10 since New Orleans. That prompts the slight fade.
32 Sang-Moon Bae (118) Came out of nowhere to win the HP Byron Nelson and has retreated with two missed cuts and a T76 since.
33 Martin Laird (30) Coming off his first made cut in a U.S. Open at Merion that included a career-best final-round 68 and led to a T21.
34 Bubba Watson (27) Hasn’t scored a top 10 since the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, but hasn’t been awful either. Could catch lightning in a bottle at any time.
35 Brendon de Jonge (42) The cut machine is still looking for his first win. If we’ve learned anything over the past two years it is that he’s a solid season-long innings eater.
36 Rickie Fowler (36) Top 10 at Merion has him headed in a different direction than a year ago when he struggled down the stretch.
37 Sergio Garcia (15) His recent public meltdown (a/k/a fried chicken comment) is a perfect reason as to why you hold your breath with him if you own him in a season-long format.
38 Bo Van Pelt (31) Sits 67th in the current FEC Standings, prompting the fade, but he’s shown signs of life. I’d buy Bo.
39 Jason Dufner (39) Probably his best round of the year was a final-round 67 at the U.S. Open that included a triple bogey.
40 Henrik Stenson (33) If you invested in Stenson at the beginning of the year, congratulations. You didn’t hit the Billy Horschel/Jason Day lottery, but you came close.
41 Ryan Palmer (61) Two top 15s including a fourth at the FedEx St. Jude since we last checked in.
42 Zach Johnson (41) There’s plenty riding on his defense at the John Deere Classic.
43 Nick Watney (32) Hasn’t made a cut since the Wells Fargo and has looked pretty bad in the process, as in hasn’t broken 75 in four of those six rounds. He should snap out of it, but lay off until he does.
44 Jim Furyk (25) He’s not making short putts and his game is centered around precision and putting.
45 David Lingmerth (49) There were several rookies we expected big things from this year, and he was not one of them. Fresh off a T17 at the U.S. Open to go with a T2 at THE PLAYERS.
46 Tim Clark (40) Erratic of late, with three missed cuts framing a T7 at Colonial.
47 Ryan Moore (48) Speaking of erratic, he has a T13 surrounded by three missed cuts. Headed to TPC River Highlands where his record is sterling.
48 Michael Thompson (27) Currently 27th in FEC Standings, I’ve dropped him as far as feasibly possible. His T8 at the Memorial was nice, but there’s nothing good surrounding it.
49 Brian Gay (35) Hasn’t cracked the top 30 since the tournament after his win. That was in January.
50 John Merrick (45) I feel like I’ve just thrown three of the more random winners of the year together in a row. Actually, that’s not true. Derek Ernst and Scott Brown are a little further down.
51 Ian Poulter (29) He’ll be favored to make a move at The Open Championship, but his T21 at the U.S. Open was tied for his best finish since the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. We expected more this year.
52 Josh Teater (50) Making plenty of cuts, with a T7 at Colonial. That was his best finish since the Northern Trust Open. Our earlier fade to around this spot was about right.
53 Scott Piercy (44) Nice run leading up to the U.S. Open, including a T5 at the Byron Nelson, but still a ways to go if he wants a tee time at East Lake.
54 David Lynn (38) Still waiting for him to return to play in the U.S. That could be the PGA Championship.
55 Kevin Chappell (69) Developing a feast-or-famine reputation. Runner-up at the Memorial was huge.
56 Luke Guthrie (37) Continues to make cuts for the most part, but we have to go back to his T8 in New Orleans for his last finish inside the top 50.
57 Marc Leishman (43) Title defense forthcoming in Connecticut this week, but has lost momentum following a nice run from the Masters through the Byron Nelson.
58 Angel Cabrera (53) Impossible to figure out weekly, but no reason to think he may not show up one or two more times in 2013.
59 Ernie Els (78) Game seems to be rounding into form just in time for his Open Championship defense at Muirfield. And yes. He won the Open at Muirfield in ’02.
60 Charley Hoffman (58) Had a couple of top 20s in Texas but faded a little at the Memorial and U.S. Open. Still a worthy risk at the right spot.
61 Derek Ernst (51) Looking like this year’s Ted Potter Jr. A rookie with not much going on before or after his win.
62 K.J. Choi (59) Steady year, but nothing flashy. Trending only slightly better than 2012.
63 Cameron Tringale (52) Went through a rough patch in the heart of the Spring, but rebounded to make his last three cuts including a T16 at the Memorial.
64 Graham DeLaet (74) Three top 25s in as many starts since THE PLAYERS, culminating with a T10 at the Byron Nelson. Full-season gamers looking for value in 2013-14 might want to pull for him to finish the season a little flat and steal him next year.
65 Robert Garrigus (54) Not much going well for the bomber right now, at least on the course. Ushered in a new child several weeks ago, partially explaining his form.
66 Scott Brown (56) Worth consideration in weaker fields like the John Deere Classic and Sanderson Farms Championship.
67 David Hearn (108) Stepped up his game with a T21-T18-T21 run from the Memorial through the U.S. Open.
68 Brian Davis (102) Made 10 of his last 11 cuts with a T6 at the Shell Houston Open and a T8 at the Memorial highlighting the consistent run.
69 Lucas Glover (60) Missed two cuts since becoming a dad, but tends to play his best golf when he’s an afterthought. Well, nobody’s talking about him at the Travelers this week.
70 Kevin Stadler (63) He’s settling into a familiar range of making plenty of money but rarely finding himself on television over the weekends.
71 Ben Crane (64) Top 20s in three of his last seven starts have gone a long way towards erasing a concerning start to the year.
72 John Huh (109) Emerged from afterthought status to pop a T8 at the Byron Nelson, a T11 at Colonial and a T17 at the U.S. Open. He’s in play on courses that demand accuracy.
73 Brian Stuard (72) Ended a pretty bad slump with a T22 at Colonial, but has missed two cuts since. He isn’t as good as his early-season play, but isn’t as bad as his current form either.
74 Jeff Overton (57) A DQ, MC and T75 in his last three starts explain the fade.
75 Geoff Ogilvy (68) His T32 at the U.S. Open was his third-best finish of the year if that tells you anything. It’s a new generation of top Aussies. Out with Appleby, Allenby and Ogilvy and in with Day and Leishman. We all hope Jarrod Lyle returns to the party in 2014 as well.
76 Pat Perez (71) Tied for eighth at the Memorial in his last start. He’s following his historical earnings trend nicely.
77 Nicolas Colsaerts (87) Probably failed to meet expectations to a degree this year, but he’s encroaching on what he made in 2012, arriving at the Travelers just $67K shy. The problem may have been the expectations.
78 Matt Jones (89) His T6 at the Memorial a few weeks ago essentially locks up his card for next season.
79 John Senden (82) His T15 at the U.S. Open was a season-best.
80 Padraig Harrington (80) Been a quiet year, with all three of his top 10s sneaking in the back door.
81 Roberto Castro (100) Made each of his last six cuts. He’s a guy to keep an eye on the next couple of months as a potential 2013-14 draft pick.
82 Bob Estes (73) Results have slowed down on the golf course, but his opinions on Twitter stay current.
83 Charlie Beljan (88) He’s missed five of his last six cuts which means he’s due for a win at any moment. Seriously though, we were introduced to him for the first time at Greenbrier so give him a look there.
84 Carl Pettersson (83) Given how little we’ve seen the Swede in contention I would not have guessed he’s made 14 of 16 cuts. Just one top 10 though.
85 Bud Cauley (94) Surprisingly he’s missed more cuts (eight) than he’s made (seven), but I’m optimistic that events like the John Deere will snap him out of it. Could be a curse that he got into The Open Championship rather than playing in Mississippi the same week.
86 Nicholas Thompson (93) Missed six consecutive cuts but bounced back with a T27 at TPC Southwind and a T56 at Merion.
87 James Driscoll (97) Making a high percentage of cuts this year compared to 2012 and scored a T13 at the Memorial in his last start. The Massachusetts native won’t mind playing in Connecticut this week.
88 Stewart Cink (66) Missed three of his last four cuts. Or as the Golf Boys would eloquently say, he’s sprung a leak in his Stewie Stewie Cink.
89 Justin Leonard (91) Made 14 (of 17) cuts with one top 25. He’s doing the best he can with what he’s got to work with.
90 Jerry Kelly (104) Six of his last seven cuts secured means he likely won’t need any type of special exemption for 2013-14.
91 James Hahn (70) Still waiting on him to prove that he can play somewhere other than the West Coast.
92 Richard H. Lee (90) Really steady sophomore year. Another guy to begin evaluating for the purposes of 2013-14. Starting to remind me of Brendon de Jonge.
93 Ken Duke (92) Four top 25s are good, but needs to make more cuts.
94 Brian Harman (86) Hasn’t repeated his consistency of 2012, but he’s only a few good weeks away from ending up in the same ballpark.
95 Peter Hanson (65) With only one top 10, he’s one of a few internationals that have disappointed this season.
96 Chris Stroud (107) Two top 10s in his last six starts have him about safe as we’ve seen him this early in the season. Usually sweats out a card until the very end, but that doesn’t look to be the case this time around.
97 Patrick Reed (NR) Four consecutive made cuts climaxed with a fifth at the FedEx St. Jude Classic two weeks ago. His flair for the dramatic will probably see him take his status down to the wire and then lock it up in a memorable way.
98 Matt Every (117) His T4 at Colonial came out of nowhere, as is usually the case with his better weeks. One trend, he generally doesn’t follow up high finishes well in his next start.
99 Justin Hicks (119) Appears safe for 2013-14 after a T7 at TPC Southwind.
100 Brendan Steele (76) Missed his last six cuts and needs to get it sorted out if he wants a card for next year. He is not in a safe zone at this moment.
101 Aaron Baddeley (79) See Brendan Steele. Missed last six cuts.
102 Bryce Molder (77) Missed five of his last six cuts, with a T65 at Colonial the only respite.
103 Camilo Villegas (NR) Not the same star we saw several years ago, but he’s picked himself back up and made his last four cuts. Trending towards a spot in the FEC Playoffs.
104 Ted Potter Jr. (103) Greenbrier defense coming up.
105 Mark Wilson (98) What is it with these Wisconsin natives playing light schedules? Only has 12 starts under his belt. I guess Stricker needed a hunting buddy?
106 Martin Kaymer (96) A T5 at the Byron Nelson was the first time he’d done anything better than a T35 in a stroke play event on the PGA TOUR this year.
107 Erik Compton (101) In what is an incredible story of perseverance, he doesn’t need to do much else to lock up a 2013-14 TOUR card. Cheers!
108 Greg Chalmers (84) He’ll make a few more cuts and run out the clock on the 2013 season with a berth to The Barclays in hand.
109 Charlie Wi (81) Hasn’t cracked a top 30 since Pebble Beach, prompting the fade. Like Chalmers, he’ll make enough cuts and tread enough water to punch a Playoff ticket.
110 Louis Oosthuizen (67) This could be a lost year for King Louis. He’s been hit hard by the injury bug (and the baby bug) the last month and that jeopardizes the rest of his 2013 season.
111 Jeff Maggert (111) He’ll be Champions Tour-ready when he turns the big 5-0 in February of 2014.
112 George McNeill (95) It’s been quantity of made cuts over quality. Probably due for another big week before year end.
113 Jason Kokrak (99) Given his spot in the FEC Standings, his WD from the Travelers is a bit puzzling. Keep an eye on his player page for any news.
114 Martin Flores (NR) Made five of his last seven cuts with a pair of top 15s. Still has some work left to do.
115 Gary Woodland (NR) Quietly made his last nine cuts, with the most recent going for a pair of top 20s. If someone offered you a bomber trade of Gary Woodland for Robert Garrigus for the remainder of the year, I might take Woodland.
116 Ross Fisher (105) I’m beginning to wonder if he’s in the process of giving up on the PGA TOUR. Since his T10 at the Wells Fargo, he’s played just once in the U.S., missing the cut at the FedEx St. Jude.
117 Robert Karlsson (106) Here’s a fun fact that may prove useful. In the 1992 Open Championship at Muirfield (site of this year’s Open), he tied for fifth. He is in the field via International Qualifying in America this year.
118 Daniel Summerhays (114) Looks like he’s going to be a bubble boy for the Playoffs until the bitter end.
119 Vijay Singh (115) Currently 134th and on the outside looking in. I find it hard to believe he won’t at least make the Playoffs but it is a very real scenario at this point.
120 William McGirt (120) His ratio of made cuts is identical to 2012 but he’s missing the top 25s.
121 Tommy Gainey (116) He doesn’t have a top 30 in a full-field event this season. I’m banking on him having a couple of his lighting-in-a-bottle type weeks down the stretch, but I wouldn’t blame you if you bailed.
122 Shawn Stefani (NR) Really missed a golden chance to lock up a card in Memphis with a final-round 76. Closed out the U.S. Open with a 69, but it didn’t much matter thanks to a third-round 85.
123 Jonathan Byrd (123) Picked up a top 10 at the St. Jude in what was his ninth start back from injury. Still a long way to go to crack the top 125 and not a lot of time to do it, but he’s too good of a player to count out just yet.
124 Henrik Norlander (110) He’s made seven of his last eight cuts and just needs one of them to go for a big finish.
125 Justin Bolli (NR) He’s only made five (of 15) cuts, but two of those went for fourth-place finishes including the Byron Nelson. Currently 121st in the FEC Standings, so has to work hard to hold on.
Dropping out: Ben Kohles (112), Scott Langley (113), Brad Fritsch (121), Robert Streb (122), Retief Goosen (124), Vaughn Taylor (125).
We will check in on the group after The Open Championship, where there shouldn’t be too many more mysteries to solve involving the FedExCup Playoff field and 2013-14 PGA TOUR cards.