This week marks the beginning of the FedEx Cup playoffs. That's right baby, its playoff season. For those of you who do not understand how the FedEx Cup works, I will enlighten you all in the coming paragraphs. It is actually really interesting once you understand it, because everything happens so quickly and it is constantly changing. The first stop for the playoffs is The Barclays at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey. With a full field in tow, except for this dolt, let's take a look at who might win this week, as well as who might win the elusive FedEx Cup championship this year.
For those of you out there unclear on how the FedEx Cup works, allow me to explain the system. During the regular season, golfers amass points based on how they perform in tournaments: the better you perform, the more points you get. By virtue of his two tournament wins and 11 top-25 finishes, Ernie Els sits atop the FedEx Cup standings right now with over 1,800 points.
When playoff time rolls around, only the top 125 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings are allowed to advance. Playoff wins are worth 2500 points, so the standings can shift dramatically after one tournament. Throughout the 4 playoff events, the field is pared down to the top 30 golfers by the final tournament, the Tour Championship. After The Barclays, the field is cut to the top 100, down to 70 after the Deutsche Bank Championship, and down to the final 30 after the BMW Championship.
After the field is cut to the final 30, the remaining players are re-assigned point totals by their rank. The top player gets 2500, and the amounts decrease slightly down to the 30th ranked player who receives 210 points. It all sounds very confusing, but the 30th ranked player still has a shot to win the FedEx Cup if he can win the Tour Championship. When it is all said and done, the FedEx Cup champion receives a check for a tidy $10,000,000 and gets his name engraved on a pretty sweet looking trophy. Though it is confusing the FedEx Cup playoffs certainly make the golf events down the stretch very interesting, and rankings can change at the drop of a hat. The TV networks do all the math for you, so just sit back and enjoy.
Now that I got all that 'splainin out of the way. Let's have a look at this week's tournament; The Barclays. The Barclays, formerly the Buick Classic and the Westchester Classic, has its roots in the good old Northeast. For 40 years it was hosted at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, but recently has been played at Ridgewood Country Club and Liberty National Country Club in New Jersey. Personally, I think all this flip-flopping between clubs is BS, and the PGA Tour needs to find a permanent stop in this area for a playoff event. They are all very nice courses, but for a playoff event you can't be changing it every year. A TPC Boston-like solution needs to be made here.
The key to Ridgewood Country Club is the greens. Almost all of them have some pretty severe slope to them and are guarded closely by bunkers. That said, tee shots are imperative too as trees lining the fairway can doom your approach shot. Accuracy and putting will be crucial this week. With that knowledge under our caps, here's who I like this week at The Barclays:
Brandt Snedeker- Brandt quickly became my boy after he slightly acknowledged my hooting and hollering at the PGA. He played well last week, is a very solid putter, and hits fairways decently well. Plus, he looks like my boy Z-Mac (left).
Paul Casey- I'm surprised Dorne hasn't latched onto this fella yet. Casey finished 7th at Ridgewood in 2008, and has been playing well recently. However, he hasn't played in a PGA Tour event for two weeks. Still, I like his chances though.
Bubba Watson- Bubba broke all of our hearts by losing to Marty Kaymer in a playoff at the PGA, but he finished 12th at Ridgewood in 2008 and obviously has been playing well lately. Gotta unbutton that top button though.
David Toms- How about a guy like Dave Toms? He hits fairways, and can roll it pretty well. Moreover, he finished 2nd at the Wyndham last week. Ground control to Major Toms?
Tiger Woods- Tiger is officially divorced now, and that is sad. Perhaps he can take his aggression out on the course. He didn't get to play here in 2008 due to injury, but Stevie says he is continuing to progress with his game. Bottom line, we don't really know what he is capable of at this course. However, sitting at 108th in FedEx Cup points, he needs to work his way up in order to make the cut for the next tournament. This might just re-ignite some of Tiger's competitive dominance. I still got your back Tiger.
Matt Kuchar- I totally meant to give the Donk's boy a shoutout in my PGA picks, but I just plum forgot. Therefore, I'm gonna let "Hoochie" Kuchar's complete stonewalling of me when I told him he was the man from all of about 5 feet away as he was walking off the 6th green at Whistling Straits slide, and pick him as a solid bet at Ridgewood.
Rory McIlroy- Rory has never played Ridgewood CC before. Normally this would be a bad thing; but as we have seen at Quail Hollow and Whistling Straits, Rory dominates courses that he has never played before. I like his chances to win here, and maybe the whole darn thing.
Louis Oosthuizen Shot in the Dark: Chris Couch- I like this guy's name and that's about it. The sad thing is, this bowl of jell-o has missed the cut in half of his tournaments this year, and is still ranked higher than Tiger in FedEx Cup points.
As for who might win the FedEx Cup championship, this year it is really up for grabs. I think the best chance lies with the guys who consistently play in tournaments though: Hoochie Kuchar, Strick Daddy, Dustin Johnson, and Ernie Els are my four top picks to take home the whole thing. Other than the regulars, Rory McIlroy would round out my top five. There you have it. This should set everyone up to enjoy a brilliant finish to the golf season. Enjoy the playoffs!