Punch Shot: Who will win the FedEx Cup playoffs?

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 26, 2015, 4:00 pm

The FedEx Cup Playoffs begin this week at The Barclays, the first in a series of four exclusive, dwinddling-field events. Jordan Spieth currently leads the points list, but he's not a lock to win as points reset during the playoffs. Billy Horschel claimed the $10 million bonus last year, after starting in 69th position. Who will hit the jackpot this year? Our writers offer up their picks.


With apologies to Jordan Spieth, who by all accounts has enjoyed a season for the ages, it will be Jim Furyk who collects the FedEx Cup and $10 million bounty next month at East Lake.

The math, as Spieth pointed out on Tuesday at The Barclays, is exceedingly simple on this: you win the Tour Championship and you, most likely, win the FedEx Cup.

The last five cup champions won the PGA Tour finale and few, if any, have a better history at East Lake than Furyk.

In 16 starts at the Tour Championship the 45-year-old has finished inside the top 10 on 10 occasions, including his victory in 2010 when he also won the FedEx Cup.

Although Furyk began that 2010 post-season in much better position, he was third to start the playoffs compared to 18th this year, he will, if his alarm clock doesn’t betray him again, have the luxury of an extra start this time after being disqualified from The Barclays in ’10 when he overslept and missed his pro-am tee time.

History has proven that winning the FedEx Cup is about timing, not a timeless performance like what Spieth has produced, and no one has been as clutch when it counts at East Lake as Furyk.


The FedEx Cup points reset hasn’t been kind to frontrunners, as no top seed has won the season-long competition since 2009. That’s why I’m taking a guy slightly further down the list, Justin Rose, to win this year’s FedEx Cup.

The classy Englishman checks in at No. 5 in the standings, and he rolls into the playoffs in fine form – four consecutive top-six finishes, three of which have come in majors and a WGC event. In other words, he’s getting it done against the top fields.

Rose is a good bet to get off to a strong start in the postseason, too; he tied for sixth the last time The Barclays was held at Plainfield CC, in 2011. That should keep him near the top of the points list heading into East Lake, where he has finished no worse than sixth over the past three years. This time, he will seal the deal with $10 million on the line. Sorry (again), Jordan. 


Paul Casey may not be the odds-on favorite to lift the FedEx Cup, but he’ll be the man with the hardware when they leave Atlanta.

After ditching his European Tour membership, Casey has blossomed while playing solely on the PGA Tour this season. He has contended a number of times, notably playoff losses at both Riviera and TPC River Highlands. He tied for third last week at Sedgefield, which like this week’s venue is a Donald Ross design, and enters the postseason with plenty of momentum. Both TPC Boston and Conway Farms, site of this year’s BMW Championship, should suit his style of play.

While the Englishman hasn’t won since 2009, we have seen each of the last two years that sometimes players raise their game during this four-week stretch. Both Henrik Stenson and Billy Horschel had gone more than a year without a PGA Tour victory before their respective runs to the FedEx Cup title.

And just for a little added numerology, Casey enters the playoffs at No. 19 in the standings – the same starting spot from which Brandt Snedeker won the title in 2012.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

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DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”