FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – A total of 121 players will kick off the FedEx Cup Playoffs Thursday as The Barclays returns to Bethpage Black for the first time since 2012. Here are some early-round groupings to keep an eye on, as world No. 1 Jason Day defends his title (all times ET):
Rose will make his first start since winning the gold medal in Rio, entering the postseason at No. 51 in the FedEx Cup standings. He’ll be joined for the first two rounds by Johnson, who was one of the few marquee names at the John Deere Classic while Rose played in Brazil, and Reifers, whose consistency this season included five top-10s and eight top-25s in 31 starts.
Reed enters this week squarely on the Ryder Cup bubble, clinging to the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot by less than $31,000 over J.B. Holmes. Mickelson will be making his first start since the PGA Championship on a course where he finished second in both the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Open. After a top-10 at Wyndham, Na will look to bolster his FedEx Cup standing before skipping next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship for the birth of his first child.
The top three players in the FedEx Cup standing have combined for seven wins this season, and the trio is headlined by Day who won this event last year at Plainfield Country Club. All three players are coming off a bit of a break, having last played at Baltusrol. Johnson finished T-3 the last time this event was staged at Bethpage four years ago, while Scott has only one top-10 finish since his back-to-back wins in Florida earlier this season.
McIlroy returns this week to Bethpage, where he finished T-10 at the 2009 U.S. Open at age 22. Like many big names, he’s had the last three weeks off and will return to competition alongside English, whose best finish this season was a runner-up at Colonial, and Summerhays, who qualified for the Masters with his third-place finish at Baltusrol.
Spieth will begin the defense of his FedEx Cup title Thursday as he makes his first professional start at Bethpage. He’ll play the first two rounds alongside another FedEx Cup champ in Snedeker, who took a big step toward securing a Ryder Cup berth with his T-3 finish last week. Rounding out the group will be Knox, who put himself firmly in the discussion for one of Darren Clarke’s three selections with his win earlier this month at the Travelers Championship.