The 2016 FedEx Cup playoffs get underway this week with The Barclays at Bethpage State Park in New York. Jason Day defends the title while Jordan Spieth defends the FedEx Cup itself.
The top 125 players from the FedEx Cup standings through the regular PGA Tour season are eligible to take part in The Barclays and they’ll all be looking to make it into the top 100 in order to progress to the second playoff event next week – the Deutsche Bank Championship.
In the playoffs there are four times the number of FedEx Cup points available than in regular PGA Tour events, so there’s a chance for players to make a large surge up the standings.
Jason Day leads the way in the FedEx Cup going into The Barclays, but only just. Dustin Johnson is just 34 points behind. Then there’s something of a gap to Adam Scott in third, Russell Knox fourth and Jordan Spieth in fifth.
Only 121 players are scheduled to start at The Barclays. Sergio Garcia has elected to sit the tournament out and Shane Lowry is competing in the Made in Denmark to try and secure a Ryder Cup spot. Danny Willett and Anirban Lahiri will also be absent from Bethpage.
Shawn Stefani and Kyle Stanley played their way into the top-125 via good performances in the Wyndham Championship last week and will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity.
In last year’s Barclays Jason Day continued the great run of form that had seen him become a Major champion at the USPGA. He won at Plainfield Country Club by six shots from Henrik Stenson. Day won again at the BMW Championship but he was denied the 2016 FedEx Cup title by Jordan Spieth who secured the $10 million bonus by winning the Tour Championship.
The Black course at Bethpage State Park is notoriously difficult. In fact, a famous sign near the first tee warns that only “highly skilled” golfers should attempt the Black. Designed by A.W. Tillinghast, the course was opened for play in 1936 and it has played host to the U.S. Opens of 2002 and 2009, won by Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover.
The Barclays has been hosted at Bethpage once before, in 2012 when Nick Watney was the winner.
The weather forecast looks like hot but breezy weather will prevail. Swirling winds could make club selection difficult and will suit the better ball strikers.
Venue: Bethpage State Park (Black), Farmingdale, New York
Date: Aug 25-28
Course stats: par 71, 7,468 yards
Purse: $8,500,000 Winning Share: $1,530,000
Defending Champion: Jason Day
Thursday 25 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Friday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm
Saturday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm
Henrik Stenson – Difficult to look past the Swede right now. He’s played some superb stuff in 2016 including Open victory and an Olympic silver medal. As he proved in 2013, when he gets on a roll, he’s tough to stop.
Henrik Stenson swing sequence:
Hideki Matsuyama – A brilliant ball striker whose game should be perfect at Bethpage. He’s on good form with top fives in the USPGA and then in the Wyndham Champs.
Russell Knox – A good performance this week from the Scot should secure his Ryder Cup selection. He’ll be determined to make a good showing.
Key hole: 15th. It’s 478 yards but uphill for the final 180 yards to an elevated green protected in front by deep bunkers. The green is two-tiered, sloping from back left to front right. Expect to see a number or three-putts here.