The wait is over and as the FedEx Cup Playoffs commence tomorrow with The Barclays, I want to take a look at two players that I think will have the biggest impact at the first of four stages in the postseason series.
Only the top 125 players on the PGA Tour from the current season are eligible to make The Barclays tournament. With that being said, let me bestow upon you my two favorites who I think could win this year’s installment.
First, let’s go with one of the hottest players on Tour this year and the defending champion at The Barclays, Jason Day.
What a year it has been for Day, who has won three times on Tour this season. Out of his 16 starts, Day has only missed the cut one time (Farmers Insurance Open) and has tallied nine top-10 and 14 top-25 finishes on his 2015-2016 résumé.
Not to mention, Day has also dominated just about every course that has hosted The Barclays since his inaugural start at the tournament in 2008. Day has never missed a cut at The Barclays and has finished in the top-25 seven out of the eight years he has qualified for the tournament.
In his last two starts at the tournament, Day has finished in a tie for second – in 2014 – and, as mentioned earlier, won the tournament last season.
It very well could be Day’s time again, as the gritty Australian has started heating up since his last win at THE PLAYERS Championship in May.
Since then, Day has finished in the top-25 in each of his last five tournaments. The only blemish being a tie for 27th at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, in June.
What will Bethpage Black bring to the defending champion come tomorrow? The par-71, 7,468-yard course is a tricky one to manage. Narrow fairways, high roughs, well placed bunkers and small greens will challenge the players in a way that will force them to play a little more conservatively.
At The Barclays last season, Day won at 19-under-par. Don’t expect that same score this time around, as the difficulty of the course will cause for lower scores to be entered onto the leaderboard.
Dustin Johnson and Day are one-two, respectively in top-10 finishes on Tour this season. Likewise for Johnson, what a season it has also been for this talented individual.
One of the most athletic golfers I have ever seen, Johnson has always been known as a “long-ball” hitter, but could never really conquer his game from 100-yards and in. He certainly changed our minds this season.
Johnson, who has won twice this season, finally got the “monkey off his back” as he won the U.S. Open by three strokes. He did that by shooting three sizzling rounds in the 60s and backed that up by winning in his next start at the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational.
You can tell by his game this season that he has worked extremely hard on his putting and around-the-green work. This season, Johnson finished second in birdie average and third in strokes gained from tee-to-green.
The strokes gained from tee-to-green being the most impressive statistic to me, in that he gained nearly 1.7 strokes on the field from the time he started a hole to when he finished the hole. A good putting game, complementing his excellent driving game is a scary mix for a man that has fell short so many times in his career in major tournaments.
Look for both Day and Johnson to finish in the top-10, if not the top-five this week on the leaderboard. Bethpage Black suits both individuals’ respective games and you can’t go wrong with choosing either of them as the winner come Sunday afternoon in New York.