2013 FedEx Cup: Breaking Down The Top Ten At The Midway Point Of The Playoffs
Analyzing The FedEx Cup Top Ten At The Playoff's Halfway Point
We’re at the midway point of the FedEx Cup playoffs, and despite the bye week, the pressure is getting even higher. We’ve seen some incredible performances by young new stars, veterans showing that they’re not about to be outdone, and of course, the dominance of Tiger Woods on an almost weekly basis.
With the week off, it seems appropriate to break down where the top FedEx Cup contenders are, how they got there, and what lies ahead. The PGA Tour season is a marathon that finishes at a dead sprint, and that only adds to the excitement.
For those of you reading this who may not be familiar with the somewhat convoluted way the FedEx Cup points system is set up, here’s a refresher. During the regular season, wins are worth 500 points, with everybody who makes the cut earning some amount. Major wins are worth 600 points, so along with the extra prestige, players like Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose all helped their season championship hopes in a big way by taking down these titles.
In the playoffs, though, points are multiplied by five, a system the Tour set up to add yet another layer of drama on top of the elimination system. Because of this, a win in any of the final four tournaments guarantees a big jump in the standings, so almost nobody is truly out of the race until they are eliminated.
70 players remain in contention heading into the BMW Championship, which I will break down as we get closer to the tournament. For now, continue reading for my breakdown of the current top ten in the standings, and what you can expect of them going forward.
No. 10: Jordan Spieth
2013 Season: One win, eight top-10s.
Spieth finished tied for fourth place in the Deutsche Bank Championship thanks to a phenomenal Sunday 62 that also likely earned him the President’s Cup captain’s pick. He’s overcome some struggles with his putter by becoming one of the best ball-strikers on the Tour in 2013, ranking third in the all-around category. He’s been fearless, and it would be a remarkable story if he were to capture the FedEx Cup, but he’ll need a big finish in Chicago to set up a run in Atlanta.
No. 9: Brandt Snedeker
2013 Season: two wins, eight top-10s.
Brandt Snedeker’s been in another little slump since winning the RBC Canadian Open. He entered the playoffs third in the points race, but a missed cut at The Barclays and tying for 47th at the Deutsche Bank Championship have dealt him a severe setback in his bid to defend his 2012 title. Snedeker ranks 4th in strokes gained-putting for the season, but only tied for 56th in that category at TPC Boston. He’s shown the ability to bounce back this season, but another poor finish in Chicago could all but end his championship bid.
No. 8: Steve Stricker
2013 Season: No wins, six top 10s.
Who’s got it better than Steve Stricker these days? The 46-year-old Wisconsin native held true to his commitment to his family, playing only 11 events this year, but has played his way into an automatic selection to the American President’s Cup team and sits eighth in the FedEx Cup at the midway point. With a relatively short trip from his family’s home to the BMW, he’s almost playing with a home-field advantage. Stricker is one of my favorites for next week in Chicago, and I think he’s one of the biggest threats to win the FedEx Cup right now.
No. 7: Justin Rose
2013 Season: One win (U.S. Open), six top 10s.
Justin Rose, like Stricker, has played a limited schedule in 2013, with only 15 events on the PGA Tour, but he made a splash with his win at the U.S. Open at Merion. Rose finished second to Snedeker in last year’s TOUR Championship, bringing him from 24th heading into East Lake all the way to sixth. He’ll find himself in much better position this year, and shouldn’t be taken lightly despite not playing as much as most of the others on this list.
No. 6: Phil Mickelson
2013 Season: Two wins, seven top-10s.
Mickelson lit the world on fire in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship last week, then promptly came straight back to earth with three straight rounds of level par. Still, “Lefty” has had one of the best years of his career in 2013, and I don’t think the Hall of Famer is done just yet. He tied for second at last year’s BMW Championship at Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis, and has almost always performed well at East Lake.
No. 5: Graham DeLaet
2013 Season: No wins, seven top-10s.
Talk about hitting your stride at the right time. Graham DeLaet had put up some incredibly disappointing finishes heading into the playoffs, including missed cuts at the RBC Canadian Open and the PGA Championship, but back-to-back top-five marks in the first half of the playoffs have DeLaet suddenly in a realistic competition for the FedEx Cup. His biggest challenge is going to be finding some consistency over the next couple weeks. If he brings the same type of mindset as he’s had the last two weeks, he could be hard to stop. However, he must avoid the “blow up” round to stay at the top.
No. 4: Matt Kuchar
2013 Season: Two wins, eight top-10s.
What can be written about Matt Kuchar this year that we don’t already know? He’s missed one cut in the last two seasons. One. If not for a 78 in his final round at The Barclays, he could easily be in the top two right now, but fourth is still a prime position, and one that he’s unlikely to let go of easily.
No. 3: Adam Scott
2013 Season: Two wins, six top-10s.
If there was any question about the legitimacy of Adam Scott’s Masters victory earlier this year, that talk has obviously been put to rest. Scott picked his spots perfectly this year, earning top-five finishes in both the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, and a win in the first playoff event at The Barclays. He faced a bit of a letdown with a tie for 53rd at the Deutsche Bank Championship, so he’ll need to refocus for the BMW Championship. Even though he’s not the most accurate player off the tee, he shines with mid and short irons, ranking 12th in Greens in Regulation, ensuring he has plenty of birdie chances.
No. 2: Tiger Woods
2013 Season: Five wins, eight top-10s.
Woods is in an unfamiliar position, out of the top spot in the points race for the first time since March. He took his poor week at TPC Boston in stride, at least in public, as he usually does, saying simply “it just wasn’t my week.” Still, we all know that Woods is at his best when he’s the hunted, not the hunter, so it will be interesting to see what he does this week. The top four in the points are all within solid striking distance of No. 1, and with the points resetting before the Tour Championship, he still controls his own destiny.
No. 1: Henrik Stenson
2013 Season: One win, seven top-10’s.
Taking out the Barclays, Henrik Stenson hasn’t finished outside the top ten in any tournament worldwide since the U.S. Open, where he finished tied for 21st. He’s not exactly a household name on this side of the pond, but he leads both the FedEx Cup and the European Tour’s "Race to Dubai" for a reason. Can he keep up this kind of performance, though? With the pressure getting exponentially higher, it could be tough for the 37-year-old to hold up to the expectations of his best year ever.
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