Justin Rose: He was right in the thick of it at the PGA until a 77-72 weekend knocked him out of the discussion. I’m hoping he plays himself back into form as I have him penciled in for East Lake. This sounds to be a ball-strikers course and he’s still one of the best even though his recent results (MC, T17 and T33 at the PGA) are “off” by his standards.
Rory McIlroy: Here’s another player that you’re only going to find in the big-time events on this side of the pond. McIlroy has only played 13 events on TOUR this season and sitting at No. 49 on the list suggests, at this moment in time, that he’ll only play in two more after this week. Unlike some of the other premium players, McIlroy actually has work to do if he wants a sniff at the 10 million and a FedExCup championship. He’s turned the corner with his T8 at Oak Hill and, like at Oak Hill, not many guys have seen this course before and that’ll help him again this week. I have him penciled in for the BMW in round three.
Jim Furyk: Even long-time reader Paul H. would agree that Furyk has ground himself back into the conversation after his last three performances on TOUR. After back-to-back T9s in Canada and Akron, Furyk was the 54-hole leader, again, in a major. Again he fell short but he keeps finding a way to grind out results and I like a guy who is full of confidence and experience. He won’t be bothered with any quirkiness this week at Liberty National.
Hunter Mahan: He was one of many victims that fell apart on Saturday at Oak Hill and posted a number of 77 or better as he chalked up 78. I don’t think we can blame a new baby for that! His solid ball-striking and improved putting travels well and that’s what I’m looking for this week. There were too many big-time players on the leaderboard in 2009 and I would forecast the same to be true this week.
Jordan Spieth: You think I’m jumping off now?
Ian Poulter: He sits on the third bubble of No. 70 as we enter week one of the Playoffs so he’ll have two chances to improve his standing before heading to the BMW. Poulter has shown us, especially at the Ryder Cup, that once he tilts, he can be a spot of bother for the rest of the field. He’ll need a big showing to book his ticket to East Lake in one of these last three events and this week gives him a solid chance. He was T9 in 2009 and has played the “redone” version of this course in the last few weeks.
Rickie Fowler: His worst finish in his last six events dating back to the U.S. Open is T21. In a field this deep, that form has my attention and he enjoys a difficult golf course as well. He played three of four rounds at par or better his last time out at Oak Hill and makes enough putts to stay within touching distance.
Harris English: Before his T61 finish at the PGA, he rattled off T15, T15 and T14 in his three prior events. English has made 41 of 50 cuts in two years on TOUR, including 19 of 23 this season. He had a taste of the Playoffs last season and he’ll use that experience to build on his career-year. He’s long, hits plenty of greens and can really putt.
Patrick Reed: He led the field in GIR. He made every putt inside of six feet that he looked at, including one in a playoff for his first-ever victory. He’s finished T9, T7 and WIN in his last three events. I’m not jumping the big boys to get to him, yet, as he jumps into the deepest end of the pool so far in his short career. I’ll take a shot on him in later rounds.
Off The Beaten Path
Form > fame
Rory Sabbatini: In his last six events he’s racked up finishes of T9, MC, T17, T12, T7 and T8 last week. He’s one of only two players to finish in the top 10 of all four Playoff events (2007) so he’s not going to shy away from the competition. He’s the hottest player on TOUR since July 1 not named Johnson or Stenson.
Matt Jones: I slept on his last week after his T40 at the PGA and he made me pay with his third top seven in four weeks. His career-year has taken him to the cusp of making it to East Lake as he checks in at No. 37 as the Playoffs start. These fields will be quite a bit deeper than the fields at Greenbrier, JDC and the Wyndham but he can see the finish line.
Scott Piercy: After three MCs, T52 and T59, I was just as surprised as most gamers to see Piercy open with 67 and close with 65(!) at Oak Hill his last time out. I was surprised because before that event Piercy had two rounds in the 60s since JUNE. Sitting at No. 50, the usually streaky Piercy is looking to make a run these next weeks. I’ll jump on with him.
Robert Garrigus: He’s shown signs of life the last two weeks after being in hibernation for most of the summer with finishes of T25 at the PGA and four rounds in the 60s last week to finish T11 at Wyndham. Heck, Garrigus was five-under to begin Saturday morning at Oak Hill so he’s been close. He’s No. 73 on the list so he’ll need a performance or two if he would like to chase his $10 million dream. His form suggests he’s on that path.
Brendan Steele: He showed that his 65 in the opening round at the RBC Canadian was the start of something brewing by finishing fourth the following week at Reno-Tahoe. He backed up that top five with T11 at Wyndham last weekend even after he was four-over through his first 12 holes. His double bogey on hole No. 72 was the only reason he didn’t hit the top 10 again. He’s safe at No. 81 but another top 10 finish will see him book his trip to Chicago and the BMW.
Brian Harman: He did the “reverse” Steele as he banged T11 at Reno-Tahoe and was T3 at Wyndham after closing with bogey-free 66. He’s No. 80 currently. I should have just combined him with Steele!
The Man with His Own Section
Martin Kaymer: I’ve been closely following him for the last few weeks and I can’t figure out where he goes. He’s a major champion. He’s been up. He’s been down. He’s been up and mostly up and that’s why he’s received his own space this week. Let’s take a look at his last three events.
WGC-BI: After makings birds on two of the first three holes, Kaymer played his final 15 holes six-over in round one. He backed that up with a bogey-free 67 on Friday. Follow me so far? Good, me neither! After going out Saturday in two-over 37, he came home in bogey-free 32. Sunday, he racked up five birdies to one bogey to finish with 66 and T9.
PGA: After making birds on two of the first three holes, Kaymer played his next eight holes two over on Thursday. After birdie-eagle-birdie to get to four-under, he bogeyed Nos. 17 and 18 to close. Friday, he went out and fired two-under 68 with no bogeys. THIS IS GROUNDHOG DAY PEOPLE. Except that Saturday he didn’t bounce and carded 78 with a triple. He birdied three of his first four holes on Sunday before going triple, bogey, double to turn in 40. GAAAAAAAAAAAH. Now get this, on the back nine, for the second time this week, he goes birdie-eagle-birdie on the same three holes and comes home in bogey-free 31 to finish T33. He made two triples a double and NINE bogeys on the WEEKEND and finished T33. He played three of four rounds in the 60s!
Wyndham: Thursday he opened with one bogey and one birdie for even par 70, including 10 pars on the trot going in. Friday, he went out in one-over 36 but rallied for a bogey-free 32 on the back (three birdies). The last six nines he’s played on Fridays he’s played five of them BOGEY FREE on two Donald Ross courses and Firestone South. On Saturday he opened with nine more pars before his weekly hiccup happened as he went home in 38 with four bogeys and one birdie. How did he finish last week? Quite simply with eight birdies, including five of his last six holes, against one birdie to post 63 and T20. He has one bad nine per week. One.
WHERE WOULD YOU PUT HIM THIS WEEK?
That’s right. You too would give him his own part of the column!
Just because they have well-recognized names doesn’t always mean you have to panic to fill your roster out with them…Also, it seems at least one of these guys will hit the top 10 EVERY week. I’m not scared.
Remember, only the top 100 advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
Billy Horschel: In six starts after his T4 at the U.S. Open, Horschel has MC twice and has finishes of T30, T44, T61 and T68. With a field this deep, I’ll let my competition take a chance on him breaking out.
Jimmy Walker: After his T2 at the Greenbrier he’s backed that up with three MCs (two were majors). This is another big field. I wouldn’t suggest drafting or filling up lineups based on FedExCup Points.
Angel Cabrera: He’s coming off a wrist injury at the PGA. Buyer beware.
Bubba Watson: He has three top 10s in 18 events this season. Now is not the time to HOPE he starts firing.
Scott Stallings: His T55 at the PGA was his best finish in his last four starts. The other three were MC. He WD before his tee time last week in Greensboro with a “tweaked back” so that does nothing to push me in his direction this week.