This week’s opening event of the very lucrative FedExCup Playoffs, The Northern Trust, may not be a major, but the strength of the field is comparable to one.
Held at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, nearly the entire top 125 of the regular season FedExCup Standings will be teeing it up.
Some will have their sights set on the Tour Championship at East Lake, while others are going one week at time, just hoping to not be among the 25 who get eliminated from the playoffs after Sunday. A number of players in the field even have Ryder Cup aspirations.
While there are many players to like at The Northern Trust this week, the following are top 15 players in what should be an extremely competitive event:
15. Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay made last year’s playoffs despite playing just nine events in the regular season, and kept his great form going into the postseason, finishing T10, T13, T9 respectively to make the field for the Tour Championship.
More impressively, that was his first career FedExCup playoffs. Now a year older and wiser, the 26-year-old is coming into Ridgewood with four top-15s in his last six outings.
Currently ranked 7th on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green, Cantlay has the game to improve his already-stellar 14th place standing in the FedExCup.
World Rank: 24
FedExCup Rank: 14
Last Six: 27, 6, 12, 15, 45, 4
14. Brandt Snedeker
The 2012 FedExCup Champion has not looked close to another over the past year, but coming into last week’s Wyndham Championship, an event he typically plays well, he had shown some flashes of finally regaining the form from before the injury that cost him the second half of 2017. Then IT happened; the tenth 59 in PGA Tour history, and the story has completely flipped on the nine-time PGA Tour winner.
That round-one 59 led to just the second wire-to-wire victory from anyone on the PGA Tour this season, and now Snedeker looks primed for another deep playoff run, currently sitting at 30th in the standings.
Nobody was talking about him possibly making the Ryder Cup team before last week, but is he keeps the hot play going, perhaps he could give Jim Furyk something to think about before Captain’s picks are due. He has been very hit-or-miss in this event, but has many reasons to be confident.
World Rank: 50
FedExCup Rank: 30
Last Six: 1, 42, 8, MC, 3, MC
13. Patrick Reed
After a phenomenal first half of the PGA Tour season, which included winning a green jacket, Reed has suddenly found himself in something of a cold spell, finishing better than T28 just once in his last 7 Tour starts.
Reed has a history of being a bit streaky, but we like him to re-discover his form from March and April, where he at one point had six straight top-10s.
Already a legendary Ryder Cup player, he would like to go to Paris hot, like in 2016 where he opened the playoffs with a victory at The Northern Trust.
World Rank: 12
FedExCup Rank: 10
Last Six: MC, 28, 9, 28, 23, MC
12. Adam Scott
At this time two weeks ago, Adam Scott was thought to be well past his prime; a former Masters Champion who would only be relevant once a year, on his annual 36-hole trot around Augusta with other lifetime-exempt names of yesteryear like Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam, Larry Mize, and Mike Weir.
However, after a stellar third-place performance at the PGA Championship where he combined back-to-back 65s in the middle rounds, the owner of one of the prettiest irons games in Tour history is suddenly a player on Tour again.
His approach game appears to be back, as evidenced by his 12th place ranking in strokes gained: tee-to-green, but even more notable: he can suddenly putt. He still needs to prove it is not a fluke, but Scott gained nearly four strokes on the field with his flatstick at Bellerive, in addition to finishing in the positive at the WGC-Bridgestone the week prior.
An Adam Scott with confidence on the greens could be scary to the playoff field, and Scott has shown the ability to get hot in the playoffs before: in 2016, he played the four playoff events T4, 4, T4, T8, and in 2014 he went T15, T16, T8, T9. Underestimate the 38-year-old Aussie at your own risk.
World Rank: 44
FedExCup Rank: 73
Last Six: 3, 57, 17, MC, 35, 52
11. Tony Finau
Victory No. 1 in a non-opposite field event feels imminent for Finau, who was extremely impressive in the major season. A game with stunningly few weaknesses has led to 8 top 10s on the season, with many of those coming in events with strong fields.
As one of the players believed to be most in contention for one of Jim Furyk’s four Ryder Cup captain’s picks, which should give him some extra motivation. With no history of team play, Finau will need to rely heavily on recent form to get to make his case for Paris.
World Rank: 30
FedExCup Rank: 12
Last Six: 42, 10, 37, 9, 21, 5
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