For the third and penultimate leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the tour returns to a familiar venue. Cog Hill hosted a regular fixture until 2007, which produced a stream of top-class winners before undergoing a substantial redesign by Rees Jones. The condundrum we need to resolve is how much those changes negate the relevance of a stack of previous course form.
The changes involve a series of new fairway bunkers to bring Cog Hill‘s test into line with modern technology, some lengthening and most significantly, the greens are expected to be markedly quicker. The venue’s long-term aim is to host a US Open, and according to Jones it will play like one if dry weather enables the course to get firmer and faster as the weekend goes on. It’s certainly easy to imagine a tough test that rewards only the very best long games, just like a Major, though I doubt the scoring will be anywhere near as high as a US Open.
After Monday’s latest cut, the FedEx Cup field is down to 70, and they’re not by any means the best 70 in the world. Besides the obvious absence of most leading Europeans, and the odd big name like Vijay Singh who missed out, many of this field look highly implausible candidates at this late stage of the summer.
It’s important to remember the context. This will be the fifth championship event in six weeks; a series of tournaments that virtually everybody eligible will turn out for, even if form or niggling injuries might suggest a break is the better option. Players like Paul Casey and Camilo Villegas are in the line up despite very recent injury problems, while other stars such as Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry and Luke Donald have looked well below their best for some weeks now. Still, with the lure of a $10 million first prize awaiting the FedEx Cup winner, they would be mad not to play.