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Fantasy Central

Fact Pack: The Barclays

Bill Haas

This week Bethpage State Park plays host to The Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The Black Course will serve as the fifth different venue for the event since 2007, and Dustin Johnson returns to defend the title he won at Plainfield CC last year. Stretched out over 7,400 yards, Bethpage Black will provide a stern test for players this week, emphasizing tee-to-green consistency. 123 players will tee off this week, but only 100 will advance to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship.  With that in mind, here is a look inside the numbers to see which players may contend for the title and help your Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge team in the process:

A T-7 finish last week in Greensboro was the first top-10 on Tour for Bill Haas since winning the Northern Trust Open in February. Entering the playoffs ranked 21st in the standings, the Wake Forest grad has a chance to become the first reigning FedEx Cup champion to advance back to the Tour Championship in the year of his title defense. His short game continues to be a strength for Haas, who currently ranks 14th on Tour in sand save percentage and 30th in scrambling.

Jason Day has a sterling history at The Barclays, despite its constantly-shifting venue. The Australian has three straight top-15 finishes in this event, including a T-5 showing in 2010, and has finished no worse than T-31 in four career starts. To continue his streak of good form in this event, though, Day will need to see drastic improvement in his tee-to-green game, as he currently ranks 190th on Tour in driving accuracy and 180th in greens in regulation percentage.

• Coming into the playoffs this week in 124th position, Heath Slocum finds himself in familiar territory. He was exactly 124th entering the 125-man playoffs in 2009 as well, only to win The Barclays at Liberty National GC and ultimately play his way into the 30-man field at the Tour Championship. Slocum will need to lean on a reliable driver to help duplicate the feat this week, as he ranks third on Tour in driving accuracy.

• At 17th in the FedEx Cup points list, Jim Furyk is the highest-ranked golfer without a win in 2012. Although he hasn't added any hardware yet this season, Furyk has been remarkable consistent this year - exactly half of his 18 starts in stroke-play events have resulted in top-15 finishes. He currently ranks third on Tour in sand save percentage, fifth in driving accuracy and fifth in scoring average.

• The last time the golf world focused upon Bethpage Black, Phil Mickelson endured another close call at the U.S. Open, finishing T-2 behind Lucas Glover. A repeat performance this week may be unlikely, though, as Mickelson's T-36 showing at the PGA Championship was his best result in six starts since May. During that stretch, Lefty has broken 70 only once in 17 competitive rounds; he currently ranks 150th on Tour in total driving and 123rd in GIR percentage.

Hunter Mahan continues a somewhat perplexing 2012 season that saw him win twice earlier this spring but one in which he is now reliant upon a captain's pick from Davis Love III to make next month's Ryder Cup squad. His stats are still indicative of his earlier success; Mahan ranks third in total driving and fourth in GIR percentage - allowing him to lead the Tour in ball striking, a category that combines those two elements. His recent results have not followed suit, though, and in fact have gotten progressively worse in each of his last five starts - culminating with just his second missed cut of the year at this month's PGA Championship.

• The new man on the hot seat this week will be Roberto Castro, who has 25 players behind him in the standings looking to claim his spot at No. 100 on the points list - the final qualifying spot for next week's Deutsche Bank Championship. Castro ranks 15th in total driving and 18th in GIR percentage but, having missed the cut in each of his last three starts, he will need to perform more in line with those rankings in order to extend his season another week.

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