Seizing the season: Picking the FedEx Cup playoff champion


Two events down, two to go before a FedEx Cup champion is crowned. As players set to tackle Cog Hill at this week's BMW Championship and next week's Tour Championship at East Lake, senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel predict who will seize the $10 million ultimate prize.

Luke Donald


Luke Donald. He’s the perfect player to rule over this season. He’s perfect because consistency rules in today’s game. Dominance is dead.

It’s all within reach for the Englishman at the BMW Championship this week. A victory at Cog Hill sets up a giant bounty. He could end this season with the No. 1 world ranking, the FedEx Cup, the Harry Vardon Trophy as the European Tour's Race to Dubai winner and PGA Tour Player-of-the-Year honors.

Nobody’s ever claimed all of those honors in a single season.

It would, in that regard, be one of the most remarkable seasons in the history of the game. Yet, given the huge haul of honors, the record that wins it all could be relatively unremarkable.

Donald can capture all of that booty with just two PGA Tour titles, two European Tour titles and no major championship victories.

No offense intended to Donald, who is evolving into a wonderful player, but the nature of today’s game, with no dominant figure ruling, makes the ability to consistently contend good enough to reign supreme.

Hunter Mahan


With two events remaining in the FedEx Cup playoffs, we still don't know the identity of Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year or even Comeback Player of the Year.

So, what do we know? Well, maybe just Word of the Year, which unequivocally goes to 'parity.'

So far this season, only six players have won multiple titles and none more than twice. Don't get me wrong – I'm not bemoaning such unpredictability – but it's more than a bit unusual.

As the remaining 70 playoff contestants head to Chicago for the BMW Championship this week, it's hard to believe that eight-plus months of parity will suddenly give way to chalk. And so my pick to win the FedEx Cup title is a guy who has enjoyed a decent season, but still has yet to see his game peak – Hunter Mahan.

While I like Mahan's talents and he owns solid records at both Cog Hill and East Lake, I'm choosing him more as a microcosm for the year than anything else. The truth is, I could have just as easily gone with Jason Day, Matt Kuchar or Vijay Singh – each of whom has put himself into contention without winning yet this season.

It's easy to look at the current points standings and expect one of the leading players to take the title, but nothing's come easy this season – especially predictions.

Nick Watney


The free-for-all that has become the 2011 PGA Tour postseason promises to become more structured following this week’s BMW Championship and, based on recent form and historical context, expect Nick Watney to emerge from the current state of competitive confusion.

Although he’s currently seventh on the FedEx Cup points list, some 2,420 points behind front-runner Webb Simpson after finishing the regular season with the points lead, few have been as consistent as the two-time winner this season and even his tie for 61st at TPC Boston comes with a disclaimer.

Watney began the final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship three strokes out of the lead before he took an inexplicable “11” on the par-5 second hole on his way to a closing 80. Still, his nine top-10 finishes this season trails only Luke Donald (11) and he’s missed just three of 19 cuts in 2011.

Watney also has a history of playing his best golf in the fall. Last year, he began the playoffs slowly (T-36 at Barclays and T-33 at Deutsche Bank) but closed with a tie for 15th in Chicago, his best Windy City finish, and a tie for fourth at East Lake.

But most of all, the man they call “Rube” will break free of the playoff pack because he’s one of the circuit’s best putters, long division or otherwise.