The playoffs have arrived. The Barclays mark the beginning of the PGA tour Playoffs, a four week stretch that culminates on Sept 24th-27th with the tour Championship at East Lake. Each event (there’s four of them) starts with a smaller field. This week the field is set at 125 and there will be no alternates. Some important players have skipped this event or dropped out: Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen (Withdraw) are all not playing. Next week the field is only 100 players and only the top 100 in the Fedex cup point standings get to move on. In week 3 only 70 players start and in the final week only the top 30 get to play. The person at the top of the Fedex standings after the final is the Fedex cup champ and gets a cool $10 million dollars… yes $10,000,000.
The field this week is obvious very strong as the top 125 golfers on the year (on the PGA Tour) are here. The cut still takes place after Friday and will be the top 70 and ties. With the few dropouts that occurred only about 40-45 golfers will miss the cut this week meaning it’s extra important you get all six of your players through to Saturday if you expect to have a shot at some big money.
Plainfield Golf Club, Edison, New Jersey
Par 70, 7,000-7,100 yards, Stroke index (2011): 68.8
The first thing you need to know about the Barclays is that it is played on rotating courses. Meaning the last time the Barclays was played at Plainfield (this year’s venue) was 2011. Looking back on past results might not be too helpful this week as a result.
Plainfield is a Donald Ross designed course. It’s older and like many older courses it plays short and doesn’t have many of the long punishing holes found on many modern designed courses. Length won’t be a huge advantage this week. However, like many Donald Ross designs there are other features, other than pure length, that help protect the course. Larger plateau style greens with sharp run offs are a staple of many of his courses and so much like last week (which was played on a Ross course too) ball placement will be extremely important.
This course was redesigned somewhat after the event in 2011 and will play as a par 70 this time around (it was a par 71 in 2011). Even though accuracy will be important, and scoring perhaps a tad tougher than in 2011, this course will be ripe for the plucking by most players. There are only two par 5’s on the course but one of them is under 530 yards and will see a ton of eagles. Additionally there are two par 4’s that come in under 370 yards and are puny by tour standards. All in all, this course will require good ball striking and accuracy, but will also give players a ton of birdie chances and the player who take advantage by sinking the most putts will win.
Last 5 Winners
Hunter Mahan (Ridgewood)—2014
Adam Scott (Liberty National)—2013
Nick Watney (Bethpage Black)—2012
Dustin Johnson (Plainfield)—2011
Matt Kuchar (Ridgewood)—2010
Since 2007 no player has ever made the Barclays their maiden (1st) pga tour win. All of the winners had a previous win on tour to their credit before winning
Since 2007 6 of the 8 winners had a top ten result to their credit in their previous 5 starts before winning the Barclays. The exceptions were Heath Slocum in 2009 and Nick Watney in 2012. Watney did have a top 20 finish in his previous 5 starts before winning in 2012.
Par 4 Scoring
Putting from 5 to 15’
Strokes: gained putting
I think given the nature of the course both Birdie Average and Par 4 scoring can be decent places for you to start researching this week. Players who rank highly in both categories should in theory prosper this week as the lack of par 5’s will mean the players will need to score on the par 4’s to keep up. A lot of birdies will be needed just to keep pace this week and so a high rank in average birdies made on tour is not a bad thing. I included two putting stats this week to emphasize the importance of putting. Donald Ross greens are typically tougher than normal and so sinking close approaches within the 5-15’ range will be key. As well, many par saves should come from within this range too. I like looking at this stat to see who might perform well on the greens this week.Who’s Hot
- Brooks Koepka is easily the hottest player on tour right now. In his last 7 starts his worst finish is T18. He has two T6’s a T5 and a T3 in that span as well.
- David Lingmerth tied for 12th at the PGA and also has a 3rd and 6th place finish in his last three events, he’s hot right now.
- Paul Casey now has two top 5’s in his last 6 starts and hasn’t missed a cut on tour since way back in March, he’s as solid as it gets.
- Danny Lee may not have a girlfriend yet but he’s in good form. In his last 5 starts he’s finished inside the top 6 on three occasions.
- Jonas Blixt is heating up. He’s made his last four cuts on tour and has a finishes of T13 and T10 in his last two starts.
- Jimmy Walker missed the cut at the PGA Championship and hasn’t recorded a finish better than 21st since way back at the Byron Nelson in May.
- Billy Horschel isn’t playing awful but he did miss the cut last week and in his last 4 starts he’s failed to finish better than 25th
- Ian Poulter has missed two of his last four cuts on the PGA tour. That includes missing the cut at both of the past two majors.
- Keegan Bradley hasn’t had a top ten since way back at the Memorial. In the last two majors he finished missed cut and a tie for 61st
- Kevin Kisner narrowly missed his first win at the Greenbrier but in his last 4 tournaments since then he’s had two missed cuts and not finished better than 35th
With the field smaller than normal I’d recommend trying to fit as many top players on your team as possible. The field is quite deep this week and so many of the lower priced players (ie 7k and below) have quite good upside. A mix of high and low players can produce volatile results, but in a shorter field getting 5 or 6 golfers through often isn’t enough to get a high finish in a large gpp. You’ll need most of your players within the top 20 and this strategy can lend itself to that result.
My Pick: Robert Streb
Streb has really been trending for quite some time now. He’s looked good at each of the past two major championship events and has a win on tour on another shorter par 70 course (back in November 2014). He ranks well in the putting stats I looked at this week and comes in firing on all cylinders, a necessity for past winners of this event. He’s my pick to get the first playoff win of the season.