FedExCup Playoffs Event No. 1
The Ridgewood Country Club
The Ridgewood Country Club
Yards: 7,319 via the scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bentgrass with Poa annua; 4,800 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass and 3.5”
Water Hazards: There is one pond
Course Architect: A.W. Tillinghast (1929); Gil Hanse (2010) redesign
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000
FexExCup Points: 2,500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Adam Scott went out early and fired 66 to defeat four golfers by a shot to win The Barclays at Liberty National in Jersey City.
Dates: Aug 21 – Aug 24
Notes: The field will tee off with 122 golfers as Jason Dufner (injury), Dustin Johnson (personal reasons) and Steve Stricker (injuries) are not entered this week. There spots will NOT be taken.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 24 of 41 events in 2013-14 but none in the last five weeks. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd, Ben Crane, Kevin Streelman and Brian Harman have won for the USA.
Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed six victories. Hideki Matsuyama and Seung-yul Noh are the Asian representatives. Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy are the European chalk that has won four of the last six majors dating back to the 2013 U.S. Open. Angel Cabrera is joined by Camilo Villegas as flying the flag for South America; Tim Clark flies it for South Africa.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd, Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had 10 in 40 events in 2014.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. Ryan Moore (30), Zach Johnson (37), Kevin Stadler (33) and Bubba Watson (35), Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30), Matt Jones (33), all were victorious before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33), Ben Crane (38), Kevin Streelman (35), Justin Rose (33), Tim Clark (38), Geoff Ogilvy (37) and now Villegas, 32, have added to the prime-timers trophy case as the season moves along.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd (28) and Hideki Matsuyama (22), Brian Harman (27) and Rory McIlroy THRICE (25), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden (42) FINALLY has some company in the winner’s circle this year for the old folks as Angel Cabrera, 44, won at Greenbrier. The old folks were represented by David Toms at T18 this week.
Turn Back the Clock
At this point in the season last year there were 11, first-time winners and just four players with multiple victories Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker. Only Kuchar has cracked the winner’s circle this year and all that took was a hole-out from a bunker on the 72nd hole at RBC Heritage!
This year, Walker and McIlroy (three wins each) join Reed, Watson, Kaymer as multiple winners and there have been just 10, first-time winners.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
Of the top 50 golfers in the OWGR, 36 are teeing it up this week.
This is the third time that The Barclays has been played at The Ridgefield Country Club. Vijay Singh won in 2008 by beating Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland in a playoff. Matt Kuchar won in a playoff over Martin Laird in 2010. #playoff. History from other Barclays tournaments will be of no use this week.
As the Playoffs begin, only Phil Mickelson (currently No. 45), Hunter Mahan (No. 62) and Steve Stricker No. 103) have reached The TOUR Championship in all seven seasons. Stricker is not playing this week and he will be eliminated if his current ranking holds after this weekend.
Mahan has started every single Playoff event, 28 of them, over the last seven years.
Last season, Brandt Snedeker was the first player to defend his championship at East Lake. No other winner had made it back the following year after winning the big prize. #jinxbroken
There has been a rookie play The TOUR Championship in six of the seven playoffs. This year, Brice Garnett (No. 117) or Chesson Hadley (No. 72) will have to make a major move as they were the only two to qualify for the FEC.
Only Rory Sabbatini (2007), Padraig Harrington (2009) and Dustin Johnson in 2012 have finished in the top 10 in in all four FEC events. Harrington’s worst finish was T6. Only Rory Sabbatini is playing this year.
Only Phil Mickelson has a top 10 finish in at least one event of the Playoffs in every season.
Singh posted eight-under-par 276 along with Garcia and Sutherland in 2008 and Kuchar and Laird posted 12-under 272 in 2010.
Hunter Mahan (there’s that name again) set the tournament record in 2008 with a first round 62. He failed to match or break par in the final three rounds and finished T31.
Kevin Streelman fired a tournament-low 63 in 2010 en route to a T3 finish. He improved on his T4 from 2008. #noted
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
The Ridgewood Country Club is a 27-hole course made up of three nines. The composite Championship Course is a combination of holes from each of the nines.
Inside the Ropes
The TOUR returns to The Ridgewood Country Club for the first time since 2010 for The Barclays. Designed in 1929 by Philadelphian A.W. Tillinghast, Ridgewood features 27 holes over its grounds. For TOUR events, a special Championship Course routing is used and features holes from all three nines.
Ridgewood played 24th-most difficult (of 54 courses used) in 2008 and was 24th-most difficult (of 52 courses used) in 2010. Ridgewood has also hosted the 1935 Ryder Cup, 1957 U.S. Senior Amateur, 1974 U.S. Amateur, 1990 U.S. Senior Open and the 2001 Senior PGA Championship. In 2012, Gil Hanse added fairway bunkers on Nos. 7 and 13 as he continues to help the club with their continuing master plan. No other major changes have occurred since the last time it was played in 2010.
Set within the rolling hills and oaks, Tillinghast routed his course around what was there instead of moving Mother Nature around. This par-71 layout plays over 7,300 yards and, like any championship-style course, should test all facets of the modern professional’s game. Tight, dog-legged fairways will require accuracy and movement from the tee ball. It’s no wonder Vijay Singh and Matt Kuchar have won here. The greens which are only 4,500 square feet on average should provide an excellent challenge to hit if not playing from the fairway. The rough around the greens and off the fairways will be challenging but not as penal as a major championship.
With only three par fives the pros will look to pick and choose their spots to attack this old beauty. Birdies will be the order of the day because there will be plenty of bogeys made! Those who avoid the bogey or bounce back should be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday. I’m taking a look at guys who play old-school courses well this week along with the players in form. At first glance, this reminds me of the Riviera of the East.
Tillinghast has also designed such masterpieces as Winged Foot, Quaker Ridge, Baltusrol and Beth Page Black.