The PGA TOUR playoffs begin this week with The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. The field features the top 125 FedEx Cup point earners from the regular season and will be cut to 100 for next weeks tournament, The Deutsche Bank Championship.
Although 125 players have qualified for the Playoffs, Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel and J.B. Holmes will not be in the field this week making the field is 123 players. Schwartzel is currently 21st in the standings and could skip the first two tournaments and likely advance. Holmes is having brain surgery this week and will miss the playoffs, he was ranked 66th.
There's a buzz in the air about Keegan Bradley returning to New Jersey. The PGA TOUR rookie comes into the playoffs in 5th place after winning the PGA Championship just a couple of weeks ago. The former St. Johns University golfer is almost guaranteed a spot TOUR Championship by being ranked this high and a win here could give him the lead going into the final 100.
The usual suspects are also drawing some attention. Nick Watney has two wins on TOUR this season which earned him the top spot coming into the playoffs. Watney won the AT&T National and WGC-Cadillac Championship, two of the biggest non majors of the season. A win could give him a big enough lead to run away with the playoffs.
Watney may come into the playoffs with a huge advantage but Steve Stricker (2nd), Webb Simpson (3rd), and Luke Donald (4th) all come into the playoffs less than 50 or fewer points off the lead. Stricker currently sits in second place, only 41 points away from being number one. He has the honor of being the highest ranked American in the world and with two PGA TOUR victories this season, knows how to win. I normally write players off the week following their first PGA TOUR victory but there seems to be something different about Webb Simpson. Just 45 points off the lead, his win last week could give him the momentum swing to be a contender in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he reacts this week. Finally, Luke Donald sits just 50 points back of the lead in perfect stalking distance. The top ranked player in the world, it will be impossible for Donald to sneak up and surprise anyone. A win here would only help his FedEx Cup chances and increase his hold on the world's number one spot.
The Barclays Groups To Watch
3. Adam Scott, Jason Day & Bill Haas: Adam Scott could be the hottest player on TOUR right now. He won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and followed up with a top 10 at the PGA Championship. He's my pick to win this week. Aside from missing the cut at the PGA Championship, Jason Day has had a career year despite not winning. Runner up at two majors, it's a matter of time before we see him win again. Bill Haas has two second place finishes this season and has made the cut in 18 of 22 events this year. It's a good year for him and hopefully he can take the experience from this years playoffs and grow next season.
2. Nick Watney, Steve Stricker & Webb Simpson: I don't think I need to re-explain why this group is one to watch. The top 3 in the FedEx Cup Standings, we could easily see one of the guys crowned FedEx Cup Champion in about a month.
1. Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson & Luke Donald: Phil is always entertaining and seems to always play well in the Northeast. They love him in New Jersey and I think he'll thank the crowd with a stellar performance. I mentioned Keegan Bradley and Luke Donald above. It's going to be interesting to see how Bradley plays after winning a major as a rookie. I expect him to be cool and put on a good showing the next few weeks. Luke Donald always seems cool. If he wins the FedEx Cup, I won't be surprised at all.
WAMGolf.com Pick to Win: Adam Scott