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08/24/2015

It’s playoff season.

Now I don’t care whether or not you love Graham DeLaet or hate him, it’s time to get your playoff beards going people. Check out that luscious thing…

Only the best of the best remain and we have an intense 4 tournament stretch to the FedEx Cup championship and the coveted $10 million.

Who’s going to join Sneds and Billy Ho in the $10 million group?

Last week’s Wyndham witnessed a record number of last day leapfrogs, as 5 players made their way into the top-125 in the final event of the regular season. This week, only 100 players will move into the Deutsche Bank, so the heat will be on again this week for golfers.

Course

Another Donald Ross design this week at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey. A quote from the designer:

“Plainfield Country Club, with gently flowing hills, where golf holes can roll across the landscape.” ~ Donald Ross

The course is one of America’s top classic designs, ranking 25th on Golfweek’s roster of top American classics. Overall, it’s easily a top-100 course in the country and has hosted national tournaments along with the 2011 Barclays, won by Dustin Johnson.

Measuring in at just a fraction over 7,000 yards and registering in at a par-70, the course lives up to the classic design mantra with big trees, long and tangled rough and big, fast greens. Read a local account of the course here.

plainfield

Last week’s Donald Ross design, Sedgefield Country Club, at the Wyndham was a wonderful course that provided golfers with opportunities to make a boatload of birdies, but still required a savvy mindset and approach. The greens received a ton of praise too, despite Tom Gillis’ seemingly bitter tweet (Gillis shot 73 on Friday after a blistering -5, 65 on Thursday to miss the cut).

Other architects in the game seemed to love what Sedgefield had going on, and I agree (although I wasn’t physically on the grounds):

I don’t have any vivid memories of the course particularly, but judging from pictures, accounts and rankings, I think this will be another great event and a great start to the 2015 playoff season.

I’d like to play Plainview…

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Barclays Facts

  • First playoff event of the year
  • Last time at this course, Dustin Johnson fired -19 to tie the tournament record and he only played 3 rounds….(keep on reading, trust me, I’ll explain)
  • The 2011 event was threatened by Hurricane Irene and shortened to a 54-hole event. Course played soft and wet and players gobbled it.

dustin johnson

  • Winner of this event will receive 2,000 FedEx Cup points, exactly 47.97% of Jordan Spieth’s season-long total
  • Hudson Swafford is the 100th ranked player in the FedEx Cup rankings right now, he’ll need to play well to hold his place
  • 22 players have reached the playoffs every season, the most surprising of which in my opinion is Jeff Overton. He even made it on the number this year at no. 125. Here’s the list: (Bill Haas, Jeff Overton, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter, John Senden, Ryan Moore, Charley Hoffman, Pat Perez, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Jerry Kelly, Luke Donald, Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Justin Rose, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini and Phil Mickelson.)
  • 3 foreign Tour mainstays advanced after last week’s event:
    • Jonas Blixt (135 to 121)
    • Camilo Villegas (129 to 123)
    • Ryo Ishikawa (130 to 124)

Last 5 Champs

2014: Hunter Mahan (Read recap here)

2013: Adam Scott (Read recap here)

2012: Nick Watney 

2011: Dustin Johnson

2010: Matt Kuchar

Full Field

Click here to check out the entire 2015 Barclays field.

Last Week’s Picks

Bill Haas 6

Brooks Koepka 6

Billy Horschel MC

Heath Slocum MC

Branden Grace 47

Two top-10s in my group, but I’d rather take four or five guys with made cuts, so the two MCs bother me. Onto better picks and greener pastures…

Player Picks

Two from the Fairway (Contenders)

Paul Casey

paul casey

I haven’t written very much about Paul Casey this year, but he’s played some really, really nice golf. Twice a loser in playoffs–at the Northern Trust Open and Travelers Championship–Casey’s been knocking at the door all year for a win. His T3 last week at Sedgefield was no different.

Aside from withdrawing at the PLAYERS, Casey hasn’t missed a CUT on the Tour since March. He’s 19th in the FedEx Cup and has played his way back into being a premier player in the world of golf.

Casey wasn’t in the field in 2011 at Plainfield but his style of play fits the course nicely. He’s 5th on Tour in GIR and with the greens being as large as they are, proximity is crucial. He’s 8th on the Tour in fairway proximity and from 125-175, he’s 4th in the stat.

His hot play and proximity will both aid him to a high finish this week.

Dustin Johnson

dustin johnson

Here’s to having two pictures of Dustin Johnson in one preview!

It’s impossible not to include him in the contenders this week. His play in 2015 has been great (aside from a few late major championship slips) and his performance here in 2011 blew away a field in three rounds that was making birdies in bundles.

Johnson’s long game is extraordinary, his approach game is world-class and his putting, when on, makes him one of the world’s elite talents.

What statistics do I really need to justify this pick?

Well, he’s 5th in scoring, 6th in birdies, 3rd in eagles, 2nd in putting average (51st in strokes gained) and 9th in total strokes gained.

Am I justified?

One from the Rough (Sleeper)

Tony Finau

tony finau

With a field of the 125 top points earners from the season, it’s hard to find true sleepers, but given the nature of this field, I think Finau may fit the mold for one last year.

Given the stature of his game and his record in 2015, there’s common belief throughout the Tour that Finau will be a mainstay. His length is impressive (8th on Tour) and makes birdies (10th in average). His play at the PGA Championship thrust him into the national spotlight for the first time since his Big Break days.

I think the attention Finau gained will be repeated in the next 2-3 years.

His play at the Barclays this week will extend his season longer than his peers. I like Finau this week.

The Man with the Trophy

Matt Kuchar

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The PGA Tour just doesn’t feel right without a Matt Kuchar win.

Since 2009, he’s won in 5 out of 6 years and has racked up millions of dollars. It’s August, and we’re still waiting for a Matt Kuchar victory in 2015. Come on Matt, one for the people.

Last time at Plainfield, Kuch went 63-65-68 and would have been in prime position to capture another win if the event were to continue. DJ’s play trumped him that week.

This season, Kuchar has been 12th on Tour in strokes gained and it’s time it pays off. Last time he teed it up, he put together the best major championship performance of his season and finished 7th.

Time off for rest will have fueled him into the playoffs and a win will have him in position to capture the $10 million prize.

As if his number of top-10s weren’t enough to pad his bank account…

troy tweet twitter

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