The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs get under way this week with The Barclays at Bethpage State Park. Dustin Johnson defends the tournament and Bill Haas 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.

Tiger Woods leads the FedEx Cup after the regular season with Jason Dufner second and Rory McIlroy third. But things can change dramatically with 2,500 points going to the winner of the Barclays – five times the prize for a regular season tour event.

The top 100 after The Barclays will contest the Deutsche Bank Championship, then the top 70 go through to the BMW Championship with the top 30 playing in the Tour Championship for a chance to win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million first prize.

In 2002 the Black Course at Bethpage State Park became the first publicly owned and operated course to host a US Open Championship. Tiger Woods won that time then, when the US Open returned in 2009, Lucas Glover took the title.

It’s an extremely difficult layout and one that’s sure to test the players this week. Narrow fairways and small, slick greens will place a premium on accuracy. But it’s also, potentially, a long layout. It could be stretched to 7,468 yards for the tournament.

Venue: Bethpage State Park, Farmingdale, New York
Date: August 23-26
Course stats: par 71, 7,468 yards
Purse: $8,000,000 Winner: $1,440,000
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-19)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Friday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm
Saturday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9pm
Sunday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 5pm

Player Watch:

Rory McIlroy – The World Number 1 is riding the crest of a wave following his eight-stroke victory in the USPGA Championship. Don’t expect him to come down for this event. He could be tough to beat.

Tiger Woods – Winner of the US Open at Bethpage in 2002, he’s the current FedEx Cup leader. No Major wins in 2012 but he’ll be hoping to secure a third FedEx Cup title.

Steve Stricker – He was joint runner-up in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and tied 7th in the USPGA Championship. He’s traditionally played well in the playoffs, look for him to do so again.

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 of three-putts here.

Where next?
European Tour –
Johnnie Walker Championship preview