FedExCup Playoffs Event No. 1
The Ridgewood Country Club
The Ridgewood Country Club
Yards: 7,319 via the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass with Poa annua; 4,800 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass and 3.5”
Water Hazards: There is one pond
Course Architect: A.W. Tillinghast (1929); Gil Hanse (2010) redesign
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000
FexExCup Points: 2,500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Adam Scott went out early and fired 66 to defeat four golfers by a shot to win The Barclays at Liberty National in Jersey City.
Dates: Aug 21 – Aug 24
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 24 of 41 events in 2013-14 but none in the last five weeks. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman have won for the USA.
Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed six victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives. Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the European chalk that has won four of the last six majors dating back to the 2013 U.S. Open. Angel Cabrera is joined by Camilo Villegas as flying the flag for South America; Tim Clark flies it for South Africa.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had 10 in 40 events in 2014.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. Ryan Moore (30), Zach Johnson (37), Kevin Stadler (33) and Bubba Watson (35), Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30), Matt Jones (33), all were victorious before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35), Justin Rose (33), Tim Clark (38), Geoff Ogilvy (37) and now Villegas, 32, have added to the prime-timers trophy case as the season moves along.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), Brian Harman (27) and Rory McIlroy THRICE (25), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Angel Cabrera, 44, won at Greenbrier. The old folks were represented by David Toms at T18 this week.
Turn Back the Clock
At this point in the season last year there were 11, first-time winners and just four players with multiple victories Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker. Only Kuchar has cracked the winner’s circle this year and all that took was a hole-out from a bunker on the 72nd hole at RBC Heritage!
This year, Walker and McIlroy (three wins each) join Reed, Watson, Kaymer as multiple winners and there have been just 10, first-time winners.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
Of the top 50 golfers in the OWGR, 36 are teeing it up this week.
This is the third time that The Barclays has been played at The Ridgefield Country Club. Vijay Singh won in 2008 by beating Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland in a playoff. Matt Kuchar won in a playoff over Martin Laird in 2010. #playoff. History from other Barclays tournaments will be of no use this week.
As the Playoffs begin, only Phil Mickelson (currently No. 45), Hunter Mahan (No. 62) and Steve Stricker No. 103) have reached The TOUR Championship in all seven seasons. Stricker is not playing this week and he will be eliminated if his current ranking holds after this weekend.
Mahan has started every single Playoff event, 28 of them, over the last seven years.
Last season, Brandt Snedeker was the first player to defend his championship at East Lake. No other winner had made it back the following year after winning the big prize. #jinxbroken
There has been a rookie play The TOUR Championship in six of the seven playoffs. This year, Brice Garnett (No. 117) or Chesson Hadley (No. 72) will have to make a major move as they were the only two to qualify for the FEC.
Only Rory Sabbatini (2007), Padraig Harrington (2009) and Dustin Johnson in 2012 have finished in the top 10 in in all four FEC events. Harrington’s worst finish was T6. Only Rory Sabbatini is playing this year.
Only Phil Mickelson has a top 10 finish in at least one event of the Playoffs in every season.
Singh posted eight-under-par 276 along with Garcia and Sutherland in 2008 and Kuchar and Laird posted 12-under 272 in 2010.
Hunter Mahan (there’s that name again) set the tournament record in 2008 with a first round 62. He failed to match or break par in the final three rounds and finished T31.
Kevin Streelman fired a tournament-low 63 in 2010 en route to a T3 finish. He improved on his T4 from 2008. #noted
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
The Ridgewood Country Club is a 27-hole course made up of three nines. The composite Championship Course is a combination of holes from each of the nines.
Inside the Ropes
The TOUR returns to The Ridgewood Country Club for the first time since 2010 for The Barclays. Designed in 1929 by Philadelphian A.W. Tillinghast, Ridgewood features 27 holes over its grounds. For TOUR events, a special Championship Course routing is used and features holes from all three nines.
Ridgewood played 24th-most difficult (of 54 courses used) in 2008 and was 24th-most difficult (of 52 courses used) in 2010. Ridgewood has also hosted the 1935 Ryder Cup, 1957 U.S. Senior Amateur, 1974 U.S. Amateur, 1990 U.S. Senior Open and the 2001 Senior PGA Championship. In 2012, Gil Hanse added fairway bunkers on Nos. 7 and 13 as he continues to help the club with their continuing master plan. No other major changes have occurred since the last time it was played in 2010.
Set within the rolling hills and oaks, Tillinghast routed his course around what was there instead of moving Mother Nature around. This par-71 layout plays over 7,300 yards and, like any championship-style course, should test all facets of the modern professional’s game. Tight, dog-legged fairways will require accuracy and movement from the tee ball. It’s no wonder Vijay Singh and Matt Kuchar have won here. The greens which are only 4,500 square feet on average should provide an excellent challenge to hit if not playing from the fairway. The rough around the greens and off the fairways will be challenging but not as penal as a major championship.
With only three par fives the pros will look to pick and choose their spots to attack this old beauty. Birdies will be the order of the day because there will be plenty of bogeys made! Those who avoid the bogey or bounce back should be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday. I’m taking a look at guys who play old-school courses well this week along with the players in form. At first glance, this reminds me of the Riviera of the East.
Tillinghast has also designed such masterpieces as Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Baltusrol and Beth Page Black.
Call to Order
Here they are, ranked for your pleasure.
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Rory McIlroy (B): He’s won three in a row. He’s good enough to win four. He won back-to-back Playoff events in 2012 so he’s been on this level before. Gamers that told everyone he wasn’t going to win three in a row last time out will no doubt be clamoring that four in a row is also impossible. I have saddle sores and I feel fine. #giddyup. Sure, he was in Manchester UK and goofing off with his friends. Completely normal behavior for a single, rich 25-year old stud if you ask me!
Adam Scott (A): He’s made 39 cuts in a row on TOUR. His worst finish since his win at Colonial, another classic design, was his T15 at the PGA. His other four finishes were T9 or better. Just a few months ago we were talking about his rise to becoming the most dominant golfer on the planet. Not much has changed except he hasn’t rattled off three in a row on TOUR like McIlroy. In 2010 he put all four rounds at par or better and opened with 66 to finish T9. In 2008 he fired 68-82 to MC. He’s the defending champion but that was at Liberty National.
Justin Rose (B): Like McIlroy, Rose won at Congressional and followed up the next week by winning the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart. He couldn’t complete the hat trick at Hoylake but he did rally for T4 at WGC-BI in his next tournament. After a blah start at Valhalla he rocked out 67-67 on the weekend to finish T24. Again, I’m leaving Rose for East Lake but the tougher the course, the more I like his chances. This qualifies as eight-under and 12-under have been the winning scores.
Jim Furyk (B): Those of us who saved Furyk last time out saw him hit the top five for the third time in four events with his T5 at Valhalla. That course played long and wet and he had no problems so I don’t forecast any this week either! He’s hot! If you remember the last time he was here, he slept through his alarm and missed the pro-am. He only went on to win The TOUR Championship three weeks later in Atlanta. He hasn’t won since. Weird.
Rickie Fowler (A): This summer he’s racked up T13, T2, T8, T2, T8 and T3 worldwide. That includes three majors and a WGC. I’m not sure what else I could type to turn the non-believers into believers. He’s made the jump to that next level and all he needs is a win to validate that status.
Sergio Garcia (C): His streak of T2, T2 and second was broken up at the PGA with T35 but I’ll take the Spaniard on any track. His putting has been solid and his ball-striking has led to eight top 10s in 12 weekends in the States this season. He lost in a playoff here to Singh in 2008 so not bad for the first time around!
Matt Kuchar (A): The 2010 champion, Kuchar defeated Martin Laird on the first playoff hole to win his first FEC tournament. He posted all four rounds at 69 or better including his catch-up 66 on Sunday. He MC in 2008. Kuchar might scare gamers off this week after his WD at the PGA with back spasms but he’s included here only if everything is fine and dandy. The way he works the ball off the tee and his nasty short game will be the difference if he’s healthy.
Bill Haas (B): He’s almost become the forgotten man in the race for the final Ryder Cup positions but he didn’t hurt his cause with T2 last week in Greensboro. He closed 66-66-64 and led the field in GIR and SGP yet didn’t win. I’m willing to wager if he throws those numbers up again this week he’ll be one of Tom Watson’s selections. This isn’t smoke and mirrors either as he’s made 23 of 24 weekends this season. He posted 67 and 69 along with 73 and 74 in 2010 here to finish T47.
Henrik Stenson (A): The defending FEC Playoffs champion, Stenson is looking to fire it up again in late summer like he did last year when he won the DBC and TTC in route to the title. He’ll need another big finish in the Playoffs if he is going to defend as he currently sits No. 70 on the list. He closed 67-66 at the PGA Championship his last time out and he’ll be encouraged to see plenty of trees and small greens this week to accentuate his ball-striking.
Charl Schwartzel (C): With top 10s in half of his last four starts on TOUR, I’ve got to include him this week. He hits it all over the map but he’s still eight in adjusted scoring and 14th in the all-around ranking. He seems to be another player who shines on the more difficult tracks with the biggest fields.
Zach Johnson (B): He’ll hit every fairway and most every green and that’s too much for me to ignore even though his recent play has been uneven. With his Ryder Cup spot clinched he should un-cinch and free wheel a bit this week. He was T21 in 2010.
Lee Westwood (C): Speaking of Ryder Cupping, the ball-striking Brit has been flashing his credentials as of late with T19 at WGC-BI that included a closing 63 and opening with 65 at Valhalla before finishing 69-69 to finish T15. He’s under the gun to grab a spot on Paul McGinley’s squad and this course fits his game perfectly.
Graeme McDowell (C): His baby is due at the end of this month so it’s time to buy baby some new shoes. GMAC had a run of three straight top 10s in the states busted at the PGA with a dull T46. Don’t forget he won the French Open in July as well so he’s been in excellent form. His driver will be his advantage this week if this course plays dry and tight.
Hunter Mahan (B): That gust of wind that was felt across the Midwest last week was Mahan exhaling as he returned to the top 10 for the first time since early March. Or maybe it was keeper league owners who decided to ride out the storm. Remember, form is temporary; class is permanent. He co-led the field in GIR at Valhalla (T7) and only made five bogeys in a major, including just one on the weekend. He holds the tournament record of 62 here as he posted that in 2008. He finished T31 that year and T31 in 2010.
Jason Day (B): When he’s not ill/hurt/bothered he can really play. That’s hardly a shocking statement but gamers are having a hard time knowing when Doctor Jason or Mr. Day will show up. I mean who gets vertigo one week and then the next week is fine and takes home T15? I guess it’s the same guy who had to change his putting stroke on Sunday morning at Valhalla because his wrist was bothering him. Gamers will hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I still would love to see him play ONE full season without and injury issues as he’s a massive, massive talent.
Guys who have caught my attention over the last few weeks listed in no particular order.
Jimmy Walker: His T7 at the PGA was his first top 10 since his T9 at Pinehurst as he sandwiched a MC, T26 and T26 between them. His career year just keeps rolling along and he probably should be rated higher than this.
Kevin Kisner: This is major step up in class but he’s closed 64-64-67 in his last three on TOUR to finish T20 (JDC), T9 (RCB) and T8 last week. I like that his last two came on old classic courses. Shhhhhhhhh. Sitting No. 93 he’s in next week so he should be able to free roll this.
Nick Watney: His T5 last week was bittersweet as his one-shot lead heading into Sunday was gone on the second hole. He didn’t help Sunday’s dinner taste any better as his tee shot on the final hole went OB when he needed a birdie to tie. I like him on a harder golf course where he doesn’t need 25 birdies. His ball-striking has seen him hit the top 12 in three of his last four on TOUR. He’s also made four cuts on the bounce.
Brandt Snedeker: He’s down here because he’s playing with fire. Last week his splits were nothing short of average across the board yet he netted T5 at Wyndham. I’m happy he did because he was my OAD last week and T5s are fine by me! He’s here because he closed last week and the PGA with 66-67. That’s not easy to do on back-to-back weeks but he’s missing too many easy putts for my liking.
Ryan Moore: After a summer of T5, T7, T12 and T8 he couldn’t put four rounds together at the PGA and finished T40. I have no problem going back to him again this week as he’s made seven cuts on the bounce and sits No. 19 in the FEC standings.
Keegan Bradley: Man, I remember when he was AUTOMATIC in the group above. Bradley has been giving gamers fits all season long and his MC at the PGA didn’t help solve anything. I can’t buy the “he needs a good finish this week because of the Ryder Cup” because that’s EXACTLY what it was at Valhalla. I know he’s plenty talented enough but I don’t think the swing changes he’s implemented have given him total freedom. He should have destroyed Valhalla in those conditions not MC. Back on the horse, son.
Graham DeLaet: The Canadian was getting ready to pop before he got sick at the WGC-BI on Saturday leading to his WD. He fought back at Valhalla and posted T15 as he made the cut in his first major (of four) this season. This looks to be a ball-strikers course this week so I’ll trust that his Playoff beard will be in mid-season form as he peppers fairways and greens. He’s No. 1 in ball-striking on TOUR.
Jordan Spieth: He hasn’t had a run of form this poor since last spring when he rattled off MC, T32 and T68 when he was “status-less”. His last three events on TOUR have been T36 at Hoylake, 49th at WGC-BI and MC at Valhalla. He’s eighth in the FEC standings so a great week is not necessary this week but gamers would like to see a glimmer of hope of his return to form down the stretch.
Freddie Jacobson: His 64-66-66 T2 finish gave him his best result since T11 at Congressional. Before that his best result was T3 at Colonial. This man has played the classic courses quite well this summer. Carry on, Junk Man.
Paul Casey: The heat was on last week and he fired with T18; it’s on again this week as he’ll need a big finish to jump from No. 118 into the top 100. He couldn’t have asked for a better course as he was T7 in 2008 and T12 in 2010.
Kevin Chappell: He’s played in six straight weekends he’s entered and his best finish in that stretch was his last time out at Valhalla where he shared the first round lead before finishing T13. He’s ninth in ball-striking and 10thin the all-around category.
Ian Poulter: It’s a Ryder Cup year and I prefer him on a course where par is a decent score as opposed to a birdie-fest. He only made FOUR bogeys here in 2010 and two of those were on the last four holes to finish T15.
Kevin Streelman: He posted 63 during his T3 in 2010 which eclipsed his T4 from 2008. His grandparents are buried in a cemetery adjacent to the property and his parent grew up in the area. Since his 64-64 late show at Hartford he’s not had a round better than 69 nor a finish inside of the top 50 in four events.
John Senden: He’s shown a penchant for excellent play on classic courses as he was T18 at Riviera and T5 at Colonial this season. He also won at a difficult Innisbrook. He was T15 in 2010 and T31 in 2008.
Brendon Todd: His recent form might scare most gamers away but he’s shown plenty of class this season as well. His splits are ridiculous and he knows at No. 12 in the rankings that he’s plenty safe these next two weeks. That might be the release he needs to get back on track unless he’s dreaming of making the Ryder Cup team.
William McGirt: After MC in three straight in late spring, The Crime Dogg has rattled off six of eight weekends including his last three on TOUR. His T8 last week at Sedgefield was his best finish of the season since he lost the 54-hole lead at Riviera to finish T6. Hmmmmmmmmm…
Camilo Villegas: Anyone who closes with 63 on Sunday will get another look in my book. Momentum is a funny commodity and Villegas has won Playoff events before, in fact he won two in a row to close 2008. He’s got the bit between his teeth as he can see the top 30 as he currently sits at No. 37 after his win last week.
Geoff Ogilvy: He’s conquered Tillinghast before as he won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and won three weeks ago at the Barracuda. I don’t mind getting a solid veteran late to fill a roster, especially on a classic course layout as Ridgewood.
Russell Knox: If ball-striking is going to be a key this week, here’s a flier.
George McNeill: Here’s another one!
Scott Langley: Might be too deep of a field but he likes grind.
These gentlemen have business to attend to this week if they would like to advance to the FedExCup Playoffs:
No. 96 Retief Goosen: He’s made 13 cuts in a row; only four have found the top 25.
No. 97 Rory Sabbatini: He was T24 in 2008 and T5 after he closed with 64 in 2010. He was flashing form at the end of those seasons and that’s not the case in 2014.
No. 98 Stuart Appleby: He followed three MCs in a row with a T38 last week. He’s made the cut in 2008 and 2010 here but only has one top 25 to show for his efforts this summer.
No. 99 John Huh: He couldn’t capitalize on the momentum from his T3 at Barracuda as he MC at the PGA and was T57 last week at Sedgefield.
No. 100 Brian Davis: He’s made the cut twice here as well and will probably need to do so again if his FEC season wants to continue. He hasn’t posted anything better than T37 this summer in seven events since his T14 at Colonial.
No. 101 Martin Flores: Since posting T19 at Memorial he’s made just two of his last six weekends and finished T65 and T75. Gulp.
No. 102 Aaron Baddeley: He backed up his solo fourth at the Travelers with four consecutive MCs. What’s the opposite of momentum?
No. 103 Steve Stricker*
No. 104 Bo Van Pelt: In his last 10 rounds, nine have been 69 or better so he’s trending in the right direction to possibly leap in to Boston next week. He was T7 at the JDC, MC (66-75) at RBC and was T14 last week at Sedgefield.
No. 105 Ricky Barnes: Since back-to-back-to-back MCs in late winter, Barnes has quietly rattled off 15 of 17 weekends (not including WD). His last two were T8 at Barracuda and T24 at Sedgefield. So I’m saying he’s gotta chance!
Jordan Spieth of the Week Last Week
The column was taken over and thrashed by the kid from Texas last year. Out of respect, I’m not changing the title of it for 2013-14. It will remind me just how good Spieth was in the last three months of the season. This year, we’ll still identify an up-and-coming player and/or rookie that fantasy players should have on their radar.
CIMB: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, 24, might have enough money after this week to earn Special Temporary Membership. Pay attention!
McGladrey: Scott Langley turned 24 last April and is in his second season on TOUR. He finished T22 last week and No. 124 last season. #slimpickinngsthisweek
OHL Mayakoba: Harris English turned 24 last July. He won.
HTOC: Er, Jordan Spieth, solo second.
Humana: Patrick Reed won. He’s 23. You need to pay attention.
FIO: Ryo Ishikawa, 22, bagged another top 10 finish. That’s his sixth in his last 10 events on TOUR or the Web.com Tour. He’s an alternate this week as of Monday afternoon.
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama is 21. In 11 events the last two years, he’s hit the top 25 in NINE of them, including T4 last week. #ALLRIGHTYTHEN
Riviera: Harris English won’t be 25 until July. He was T10; Spieth was T12.
WGC-CC: Patrick Reed is 23. He’s now won three times in eight months on TOUR.
Puerto Rico Open: Rookie Chesson Hadley, 26, took home his first title on the big boy circuit.
API: The young Japanese lad Ishikawa racked up another top 10 (T8) this week. Yep, he’s still just 22.
Valero: He’ll be remembered for all of the wrong reasons but Andrew Loupe, 25, finished T4 in only his eighth start on TOUR. #slowgolfclap
Shell Houston: Russell Henley’s T7 shows him heating up before heading back for another crack at Augusta.
Masters: That Jordan Spieth guy was T2.
RBC Heritage: John Huh, T3, is a TOUR winner but is only 23 years old. Remember?
Zurich: The winner was 22-year old Seung-Yul Noh. He fits this column to a T.
Wells Fargo: Defending champ Derek Ernst was T30. He’ll turn 24 on May 15.
THE PLAYERS: That pesky Spieth was tied for the 54-hole lead and finished T4.
HPBNC: T16 was the best the youth could muster with John Huh, who turns 24 on Wednesday.
Memorial: Matsuyama must be a quick study. He was the 54-hole leader at Colonial yet finished T10. He took it deep this week with his first victory on TOUR, in a playoff, nonetheless. #impressive
FESJC: Brooks Koepka continues to rack up non-Member points and his T19 this week added to that.
U.S. Open: For the second consecutive week Koepka has the spotlight and deservedly so after T4. With Matsuyama, Spieth and Koepka, the future looks quite bright for the TOUR.
Quicken Loans: Spieth and Reed both were T11. John Huh was T19.
The Greenbrier: Even though it is his third year on TOUR, Cauley is just 24. No point forgetting about him now as he’s bagged T11 and T4 in two of his last three.
JDC: Er, that Spieth guy again, T7.
The Open: Frenchman Victor Dubuisson is having some 12-month run. He turned 24 in April. #payattention
RBC Canadian Open: Jamie Lovemark, 26, has battled multiple injuries over the years but he could be one to keep an eye on in off-week fields. T12.
WGC-BI: Patrick Reed was T4.
PGA: Look who was back in the top 10 at ANOTHER major, Dubuisson finished T7. #leeegittttt
Wyndham: Robert Streb was T18. Sure he’s in his second year on TOUR but he’s worth an inspection.
With the big money on the line the next four weeks, we’ll retire this section of the column.
Coming Later TUESDAY Afternoon
Playing the Tips will be up and running this and every Tuesday afternoon and will list all of the Rotoworld experts picks in the GolfChannel.com game, the Yahoo! Fantasy Golf game and my One-and-Done feature. Look for it around 6ET every Tuesday for the rest of the season.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON p.m. ET. We will be breaking down the field at The Barclays and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.