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.
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.
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.
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 track could be The Greenbrier.
56 David Hearn (93) A T6-T21-T28 run has the Canuck heating up with the weather. He went on a nice run this time a year ago, with a P2 at the John Deere Classic the pinnacle.
57 Steve Stricker (46) A T13 at THE PLAYERS and a T6 at Memorial mean he’s all systems go for a one-and-done at the John Deere Classic.
59 Brandt Snedeker (40) This is beginning to look like a lost season and serves as a reminder to full-season gamers to factor in his penchant for injuries before investing too much.
60 Cameron Tringale (39) Seems like he’s begun to fade away after locking up his card for next season, and it feels like this could be a developing pattern.
61 Chesson Hadley (43) His dry spell didn’t occur immediately following his first win at Puerto Rico, but it’s had some bite to it once it hit. Four consecutive missed cuts and only one of those eight rounds managed to finish at even par.
62 Jason Kokrak (54) Continues to be a top-25-or-bust guy, and bears watching at Congressional. He tied for third there last year.
63 Robert Garrigus (66) The bomber was quietly lurking into form with back-to-back top 30s, but withdrew after his first round of the St. Jude with a wrist injury. Currently 56th in the FEC standings.
64 K.J. Choi (53) Making plenty of cuts and good for the occasional top 25.
65 Ben Martin (108) While he’s been unable to put four rounds together, he’s found himself on some weekend leaderboards of late.
66 Robert Streb (NR) A T2 at New Orleans essentially locked up his 2014-15 card. Not bad for a guy playing out of the 126-150 category.
67 Brian Harman (61) Two missed cuts and two top 30s in his last four starts have him stuck in neutral.
68 Ian Poulter (52) Made eight out of 10 cuts, but nothing better than a T20 in the 2014 portion of his schedule.
69 Martin Flores (113) Made seven consecutive cuts with four top 20s including a solo third at Wells Fargo.
70 Jason Bohn (75) Broke out of a pretty lengthy skid with a fourth-place finish at Wells Fargo, but hasn’t done anything since.
71 Scott Brown (65) Developing into a steady PGA TOUR player.
72 Scott Stallings (50) We’ve come to expect his inconsistency, but he’s fallen off the map in terms of form since his win at the Farmers Insurance Open.
73 George McNeill (63) Faded since his hot run on the Florida Swing. That’s not all that surprising given he’s a Florida guy.
74 Billy Horschel (59) Showed signs of snapping out of a slump with a T15 at Memorial. The putter is holding him back.
75 Kevin Chappell (76) A T11 at Wells Fargo and a T10 at Colonial had him within shouting distance of a breakthrough win, but he isn’t handling chances to win all that well.
76 Scott Langley (92) Improved his consistency this season, already making as many cuts as last year in seven less tries.
77 Jerry Kelly (64) Nothing better than a T31 at the RBC Heritage since we last checked in prompts a fade.
78 Justin Leonard (67) Secured 13 of 16 cuts, but doesn’t have a top 25 since January.
79 Justin Hicks (73) Top five on the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy and GIR, yet has just one top 10 in 21 starts all season.
80 Brendan Steele (70) A T26 at THE PLAYERS and a T30 at the Wells Fargo Championship keep him plugging along safely inside the top 100.
81 Rory Sabbatini (81) Currently 63rd in the FEC standings, but his recent returns are less encouraging and some of his strongest venues are behind him.
82 Jeff Overton (68) After a fourth-place finish in New Orleans, he’s been erratic and never in contention. This does little to prevent us from thinking and being concerned about his recent wrist injury.
83 Brendon de Jonge (85) Probably one of the bigger disappointments this season following a nice showing as a Presidents Cup member in 2013.
84 Andrew Svoboda (NR) Eventually followed up a T2 in New Orleans with a T19 in last week’s Memorial. One of the pleasant surprises this year.
85 Luke Guthrie (74) Could prove this to be too low as soon as this week, as he totes the mojo of a T8 at Memorial last week into TPC Southwind. Has still underachieved versus is lofty expectations from two years ago.
86 Brian Davis (77) Top 15s at THE PLAYERS and Colonial have him exactly in the FEC range where we have grown accustomed to seeing him over the years.
87 Vijay Singh (87) At 64th in the current FEC standings, he is ranked the worst he’s been all season and continues to fade his way towards our projection.
88 Kevin Streelman (69) After winning in 2013, he’s the personification of a player that has a slight regression the next season.
89 Boo Weekley (91) A T5 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship locks up his spot in the FEC Playoffs.
90 David Toms (119) Coming off a T5 at Colonial, he enters Memphis as the all-time money leader at the St. Jude and is poised to make a jump in the FEC standings.
91 Bo Van Pelt (122) Has shown signs of the BVP from two years ago, finishing T26 or better in four of his last five starts and signing for back-to-back top 20s.
92 Erik Compton (95) Putting together a second consecutive solid season and has developed into a dependable option for full-season gamers.
93 Aaron Baddeley (86) Made three consecutive cuts after missing three immediately before that. Perhaps he’s found something.
94 Brice Garnett (125) Put together some nice 36-hole scores, but has failed to convert that into weekend success. It only takes one week.
95 Kevin Kisner (NR) On a roll making six out of his last seven cuts including a T6 at the Wells Fargo Championship.
96 Retief Goosen (100) Cashed in seven out of his last eight events with a T7 highlighting his season at the Shell Houston Open.
97 Camilo Villegas (88) Has just one top-25 finish this season, but makes enough cuts to keep a TOUR card. He can no longer be thought of as the player he was in 2008.
98 Michael Thompson (98) Making cuts at a better percentage than last year, but has just one top 10 versus three a year ago.
99 William McGirt (90) In his last 10 starts, he’s missed six cuts but finished a respectable T29, T39, T9 and T21 when he was around for the weekend.
100 Stuart Appleby (94) A T12 at the RBC Heritage and a T17 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans were followed by a MC-T77-WD run. Two steps forward, three steps back?
101 Ernie Els (84) He has to prove this wrong, right?
102 Louis Oosthuizen (82) He has to prove this wrong, right? No, that wasn’t a typo.
103 Tim Clark (115) A T38 at Harbour Town and a T21 at Colonial show he may be healthy enough for a late-season push.
104 John Huh (111) A T3 at the Heritage saved his bacon, but he’s still only 93rd in the current FEC standings.
105 Morgan Hoffmann (105) Has four finishes this season between T15 and T17. Just can’t seem to get over the hump and nab a top 10 or contend.
106 Stewart Cink (97) His five-year PGA TOUR exemption for winning the 2009 Open Championship expires this year, and it appears he’s on the road to safety for full status in 2014-15 via FEC points.
107 Danny Lee (107) Was 84th in the FEC standings when we last checked in and has floated down to 104th even with a T25 in New Orleans.
108 Robert Allenby (NR) Watch out for him this week in Memphis.
109 Michael Putnam (121) The dude can’t finish off a tournament, but he’s made 16 of 21 cuts and is currently 111th in the FEC standings. Needs one really good week or two decent weeks to lock up full status for next year.
110 Billy Hurley III (NR) Nice momentum by qualifying for the U.S. Open via Sectionals. With 414 FEC points, he’s a virtual lock to finish inside the top 125.
111 David Lingmerth (NR) After five consecutive missed cuts, he scored a T5 at Colonial and a T49 at Memorial to move from 144th to 120th in the FEC standings.
112 Trevor Immelman (102) Currently the bubble boy at 125th, this is a small leap of faith since he’s missed six of his last eight cuts.
113 Ben Curtis (NR) Has the ability to surprise and did so with a T6 at Memorial last week. Needs another week like that, as he is currently on the outside looking in.
114 Nicholas Thompson (NR) His T3 at Colonial moved him from 138th to 88th in the FEC standings and likely assures him of a card for next season. Missed his other five most recent cuts.
115 Martin Laird (104) Two T30s in his last four starts offer hope that he’ll close the year strong enough to move inside the top 125.
116 Greg Chalmers (117) Third on TOUR in strokes gained-putting, he is 119th in the current FEC standings and is in very familiar territory.
117 Brian Gay (78) Running out of courses that fit his eye and hasn’t done much this season.
118 Carl Pettersson (83) Slipped from 82nd to 115 in the standings in the last two months.
119 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (106) Making cuts but failing to finish strong.
120 Jonathan Byrd (101) He tends to take things down to the wire, and appears to be on that track again this season. Came through with a win during the Fall Series in Las Vegas in 2010 when he had to save his status, then took his Major Medical to the brink earlier this year.
121 Mike Weir (NR) Wasn’t even in the conversation to earn a 2014-15 PGA TOUR card before his solo second at Colonial. Good for him.
122 Bryce Molder (79) Failed to see the weekend in six of his last nine starts, plummeting from 44th to 99th in the current standings.
123 Shawn Stefani (NR) Behind the eight ball in terms of starts, he met his Minor Medical and has moved to 148th in the FEC standings in just seven starts.
124 Briny Baird (80) Playing very poorly, but mathematically should still stick inside the top 125.
125 Nick Watney (71) Probably shouldn’t have left Butch Harmon’s stable, and he may be the biggest disappointment of the 2013-14 season.
Dropping out: James Driscoll (96), Sang-moon Bae (99), Roberto Castro (103), Ben Crane (110), Charlie Beljan (112), Ken Duke (114), Andrew Loupe (116), John Rollins (118), Jim Renner (120), J.J. Henry (123) and Chad Collins (124).
The final installment of this feature will publish following the Wyndham Championship and serve as a preview for the FedExCup Playoffs.
As always, best of luck to all!