With the fifth edition of the Top 125, I will take my final swing at who will crack the field for The Barclays to open the FedExCup Playoffs. When we last checked in, Bubba Watson had just finished slipping on the green jacket for the second time and the PGA TOUR was heading to Harbour Town for the RBC Heritage.
Here’s a rundown of the action since the Masters:
• Matt Kuchar spent most of the spring dancing around his first win of the season. He finally captured it at the RBC Heritage when he overtook Luke Donald on Sunday afternoon. Kuchar did his best to give it away late, but holed a bunker shot to secure the title.
• At the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Seung-yul Noh broke through with his first PGA TOUR win, holding off Andrew Svoboda and Robert Streb by two strokes. Another non-winner, Ben Martin, was the story for the first half of the week. From the first round on, this one looked destined to be taken down by a first-timer.
• J.B. Holmes completed his comeback to the mainstream of golf by winning the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow. He had already met the requirements of his Major Medical Extension, and now he finds himself a few big finishes away from possibly earning his way on to a second Ryder Cup team. He had to hold off a hard-charging Jim Furyk in the finale.
• Channeling his inner Angel Cabrera, Martin Kaymer showed up on a big stage to win THE PLAYERS by one over Furyk. It seems like the German has been nearly invisible, especially to American fans, since winning the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Well, unless you count his clinching putt in the 2012 Ryder Cup, which we probably should. The question will now be if he can build on that success and remain steady in lower-tier events.
• Back on the first-timer train, Brendon Todd climaxed his already steady season with a win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, he backed that up with a T5 at Colonial. Perhaps the shocker of the year was Mike Weir’s solo second at the HPBNC, virtually assuring himself of a 2014-15 PGA TOUR card. Todd winning was much less of a surprise than the Canadian scoring a runner-up.
• Zach Johnson failed to show up for his annual cash grab at Colonial with his usual gusto, leaving Adam Scott a free run at the title. With that victory, Scott moved his newly minted No. 1 world ranking safely out of reach of his nearest chasers for the time being. Despite his lofty ranking, most people didn’t consider the Aussie to be the front-runner. Rather, players like ZJ, Furyk and Kuchar held the expectations and all failed to live up to the billing.
• Perhaps the least surprising first-time winner of the year was Hideki Matsuyama at the Memorial Tournament in a playoff over Kevin Na. Matsuyama flashed big potential early in the season, but had cooled off until just recently. Bubba Watson and Adam Scott seemed poised to duke this one out, but both fell apart on the back nine Sunday afternoon.
With that behind us, here’s a look at the new top 125:
Rank Golfer (Previous Rank) Comment
1 Bubba Watson (2) Lightened his schedule since winning the Masters and has already nabbed a third-place finish in just two starts since Augusta. High expectations for the Travelers Championship await.
2 Jimmy Walker (1) Still No. 1 in the FedExCup standings, but the majority of the sweet spot of his schedule is in the rearview mirror.
3 Matt Kuchar (4) Other than a startling missed cut at Colonial, he may be the most consistently good golfer on the planet.
4 Jordan Spieth (3) What can’t this kid do? I suppose win for a second time, but that stands to change soon.
5 Dustin Johnson (5) Played both events on the Texas two-step, and then teed it up at Memorial. Scheduled for the FedEx St. Jude and the U.S. Open, which is five in a row. That’s good for gamers.
6 Adam Scott (11) The biggest knock on him as been his light schedule, but as long as he keeps popping off wins like he did at Colonial it won’t matter.
7 Rory McIlroy (6) After winning at Wentworth (European Tour) following his high-profile breakup, he looked like he would run away and hide with the Memorial after opening with a 63. It didn’t happen, but he should put it all together for a win or two this summer.
8 Hideki Matsuyama (58) Now let’s see what happens with the lid lifted.
9 Zach Johnson (7) All things considered, he’s disappointed on some traditionally fruitful courses since the Masters. There is still enough time for him to pull it all together, as the John Deere Classic looms large.
10 Brendon Todd (46) Not only is his performance incredibly strong of late, his stats are off the charts in some very key areas.
11 Harris English (8) Been in a relative slump of late, not securing a top 10 since the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship where he won two matches for a T9.
12 Jim Furyk (17) A pair of runner-up finishes since we last checked in have him eyeing a spot in the top 10.
13 Chris Kirk (14) Six consecutive top 30s along with a T4 at Memorial last week have him currently sitting sixth in the FEC standings.
14 Patrick Reed (12) Been in a slump since his most recent win at the WGC-Cadillac and has also experienced the birth of his first child a couple of weeks ago. Plenty of spinning plates here.
15 Kevin Na (23) There’s always one guy every year that steals a tournament with a hot final round and a few hours of leaderboard watching. It was almost Na last week.
16 John Senden (32) In the midst of one of his best PGA TOUR seasons ever, and the putter is a surprising reason as to why. Sits 14th in strokes gained to go with 13th in GIR.
17 Webb Simpson (10) Been a little too quiet for a little too long. Third child born recently, though.
18 Keegan Bradley (9) It’s worth questioning his coaching change away from Jim McLean to Chuck Cook at this point. Not sure it was broken.
19 Jason Day (27) Back in action at the Memorial for the first time since the Masters, he’s earned 799 FEC points in just five starts. The Match Play win was huge, but imagine if he logs five or six more starts.
20 Sergio Garcia (28) Backed up his Masters missed cut with a third at THE PLAYERS.
21 Bill Haas (13) The top-25 machine came through with a T8 at Memorial last week. Still a bit underwhelming compared to expectations.
22 Ryan Moore (16) Without a top 10 since the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but owns two top 20s in his last four starts.
23 Gary Woodland (24) Speaking to his consistency, a T57 last week was his worst PGA TOUR finish since October of 2013.
24 Henrik Stenson (30) Currently 110th in the FEC standings, but has played just eight events.
25 Martin Kaymer (89) A win at THE PLAYERS justifies a massive bump.
26 Matt Every (19) The post-win hangover from Bay Hill is still lingering, which isn’t a surprise.
27 Justin Rose (18) Another guy that needs to log some starts. His missed cut at Memorial came as a surprise given his form and course history.
28 Graeme McDowell (15) Failed to impress at Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass. Needs to get on his horse to ensure he makes the Ryder Cup team.
29 J.B. Holmes (109) Now we wait to see how long it takes him to come down from his win at Quail Hollow.
30 Phil Mickelson (26) Nothing like a good FBI investigation in the heart of golf season.
31 Ryan Palmer (34) Expectations are high entering this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic.
32 Luke Donald (47) Runner-up at the Heritage proves he’s still a factor where his course history is strong.
33 Jason Dufner (36) Underwhelmed at the HP Byron Nelson and THE PLAYERS before losing in a playoff at Colonial to Adam Scott. The putter is still very scary.
34 Charl Schwartzel (31) While he has some ground to make up to reach this mark, top-12 finishes in three of his last four starts bode well for the immediate future.
35 Kevin Stadler (21) Similar to Every, baby Stads is enjoying the fruits of his first win.
36 Graham DeLaet (29) Probably staying a little further under the radar than we thought this season.
37 Charles Howell III (45) Chucky nabbed a T3 at the Byron Nelson at a time in the season when he usually starts to fade.
38 Hunter Mahan (22) Generally does his best work early and is a modest 61st in the current FEC standings. Needs to snare some top 10s just to reach this most recent expectation.
39 Matt Jones (33) Like other first-timer winners, he’s been slow to back it up with a nice tournament.
40 Will MacKenzie (25) After an incredible spring, he’s missed his last five cuts. It’s fair to question his motivation with a 2014-15 card already secured.
41 Charley Hoffman (41) Continues to be a model of consistency, but the big finishes have slowed of late.
42 Brian Stuard (44) Won his U.S. Open sectional with ease. Continues to impress at the right venues.
43 Russell Knox (51) A T9 at the Heritage and T21 at Colonial were the highlights since we last checked in.
44 Lee Westwood (48) This could be the week he starts to make a serious charge, with a win and a T11 in his two trips to Memphis.
45 Jonas Blixt (37) Hasn’t done much here, or in Europe, since his T2 at the Masters. It fits, as he can be streaky.
46 Seung-yul Noh (72) A win, a T72 and three missed cuts since our last edition. Must be bellied up at the same bar as guys like Every and Jones.
47 Rickie Fowler (20) Looked to have turned a corner at the Masters but has largely disappointed since.
48 Daniel Summerhays (56) Made each of his last five cuts with three top 30s.
49 Russell Henley (35) Beginning to look a little like a Scott Stallings, who can win without notice but will frequently miss cuts. Much better for full-season gamers than weekly players.
50 Pat Perez (55) A little surprised and impressed he’s had the patience to grind out 16 of 18 cuts.
51 Freddie Jacobson (62) A T3 at Colonial moved him to 51st in the FEC standings, which is his highest spot since November of 2013 following a T12 at Mayakoba.
52 Chris Stroud (42) Seems to have cooled a little lately. It will be interesting to see how he performs at the Travelers after his P2 last year.
53 Mark Leishman (60) Performed to his relatively high expectations on the Texas two-step.
54 Ryo Ishikawa (57) May have been passed by Hideki Matsuyama on the Japanese star scale, but is still having his best year playing a full-time U.S. schedule.
55 Steven Bowditch (38) Missed five of seven cuts with no top 25s since his breakthrough win. The right place for him to get back on trnull