These are three big storylines entering this year’s FedExCup playoffs
The PGA Tour’s new-look FedExCup playoffs have finally arrived.
The Tour’s decision to shrink its postseason from 125 players to just 70 has already had a positive effect, as the Wyndham Championship provided some compelling drama down the stretch as Justin Thomas fought to keep his season alive before ultimately coming just over eight points shy.
Now, we get to do it all over again at this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship, only this time it’s the race for the top 50 and not only a spot in next week’s BMW Championship at Olympia Fields but also tickets to all the signature events in 2024.
Here’s a look at the schedule for the three playoff events:
- Top 70 – Thursday-Sunday, FedEx St. Jude Championship, TPC Southwind, Memphis
- Top 50 – Aug. 17-20, BMW Championship, Olympia Fields (Ill.) CC
- Top 30 – Aug. 24-27, Tour Championship, East Lake GC, Atlanta
And here are three storylines to watch this postseason:
Top 50 battle
The PGA Tour released its 2024 schedule on Monday afternoon, unveiling a slate that includes four majors, The Players, three playoff events and eight other signature events. The fields for those signature events will be determined a few ways, but the pass into all of them comes with qualifying for this year’s BMW Championship.
That’s why Sunday in Memphis could be very, very thrilling.
Notables outside the current top 50 and teeing it up at TPC Southwind include Davis Riley (54), Hideki Matsuyama (57), Keith Mitchell (58), Matt Kuchar (60) and last-man-in Ben Griffin (70). Nick Hardy sits right at No. 50 while Cam Young (48), Tom Hoge (46) and J.T. Poston (45) are close to the top-50 bubble entering the week.
U.S. Ryder Cup race
Thanks to Fred Couples, we already know that Max Homa, Cam Young and Jordan Spieth are surefire captain’s picks for the U.S. side to go along with the already qualified Scottie Scheffler and Wyndham Clark, and likely auto selections Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele. Now, the question for U.S. captain Zach Johnson is what other three Americans will he take with him to Rome?
The resurgent Rickie Fowler, recently a winner again at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and before that a co-54-hole leader at the U.S. Open, seems to be a safe bet. Collin Morikawa is another potential pick with decent odds.
That last pick, though, is going to be a tough one. Keegan Bradley is twice a winner this season, including at the designated Travelers, though he’s slipped to No. 10 in points and hasn’t played on a Cup team since 2014. Sam Burns figures to be a future Cup star and is Scheffler’s best friend, and he’s No. 12 in points with a WGC-Match Play win under his belt this season. But Burns also missed two major cuts this season and doesn’t have a top-10 since May. And then there’s the slumping Justin Thomas, whose playoff bid came up one shot short at Wyndham, and his inclusion on the team would be based solely on experience.
Tony Finau and Denny McCarthy are a couple longshots, while it’s unlikely that LIV players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson would get nods despite DeChambeau’s recent LIV victory, which he capped with a 58, and Johnson’s Cup record.
This season’s Player of the Year battle is between two men: Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler. Rahm has the advantage in terms of wins (4-2) and majors (1-0). The Masters champ also was T-2 at The Open and T-10 at the U.S. Open. But Scheffler owns a 9-5 head-to-head record against Rahm this season, and he had rattled off 19 straight top-12s before a T-23 at Royal Liverpool.
If you value wins and majors, Rahm is the current favorite.
If you value consistency, Scheffler, who leads the Tour in strokes gained total (nearly 0.4 shots per round better than Rahm), is the man to beat right now.
As for Rookie of the Year, there isn’t a clear frontrunner. Taylor Montgomery was an early favorite after posting eight top-15s in his first nine starts of the season, but he’s since slipped to No. 52 in points and has missed four straight cuts entering playoffs. Eric Cole, at No. 40 in points, is the top rookie in the FedExCup while No. 68 Vincent Norrman is the only playoff-bound rookie to win a PGA Tour event this season. Thomas Detry is No. 52 in points ad was recently T-13 at The Open.
Right now, Cole is probably the pick by default but Norrman having won could give him the edge.