Who’s hot? Here’s our take on the Tour’s hottest players heading into Round 2 of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
1. Jason Day – 641.33 points
The summer’s hottest player got his fourth win of the season—and third in his last four starts—at the Barclay’s last week, carding just 125 total strokes over his final 36 holes, a feat that’s been accomplished just 5 times since 1970. The only other players to win three times over four starts in the Tiger era are Woods himself (2009,’08, ’07, ’06, ’03, ’01, twice in 2000, three times in 1999) and Rory McIlroy (2014, 2012). Heading into the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, there’s little to suggest that Day is going to cool off, and if he wins the Deutsche Bank, he would take over the No. 1 spot in the world and in the running for player of the year honors. In seven starts at TPC Boston, Day has three top-tens including a runner-up finish in 2010. And on paper he looks awesome—3rd in driving distance, T-9 in greens in regulation, 4th in scrambling and 2nd in par-4 average—a potentially lethal combination on a track that features some of the easier par-4s on Tour. The only question is how much Day has left in the tank to carry him through the next three weeks.
2. Justin Rose – 4394.33 points
After an opening round 77 at the Barclays, Rose bounced back with a 65-63 before stumbling to a disappointing 70 on Sunday. His T-16 finish is his worst on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut at the Players Championship. Rose is 14th in driving distance and 8th in greens in regulation, but struggles in scrambling (100th) and par-4 scoring (T-49). Plus, he hasn’t played well at the Deutsche Bank in years, but did finish 3rd in 2003 and T-4 in 2006.
3. Bubba Watson – 365.33 points
Watson’s up and down year continued with a 3rd place finish at the Barclays, his seventh top-three finish in 17 starts. Stats-wise, Bubba should excel at TPC Boston, a course he can easily overpower off the tee (2nd driving distance) and on approach (23rd in greens in regulation.) But like Rose, he has struggled at this tourney, with his best finish coming in his first start in 2006 with a T-12. In his last three starts, he missed the cut in 2012, was T-67 in 2013 and T-29th last year, further proof that Watson is the type of player who struggles on certain courses and thrives on others—even though he has the game to compete week in and week out.
4. Jordan Spieth – 322.33 points
For the first time in a long time, Spieth had an off week, missing the cut at the Barclays after hitting only 58.3% of his greens and 60.7% of his fairways. And considering the run he’s been on lately, it’s hard to believe that he switched to a new set of Titleist irons heading into Plainfield, his first switch since 2013. Of course, his irons weren’t his only problem, as he missed three of 32 putts from six feet and under, which is very uncharacteristic for him. But recent history suggests Spieth is due for a bounce back, as he followed his previous two missed cuts this season with a T-7 at Pebble and a T-2 at Colonial. And while Spieth doesn’t have the distance to overpower the course like Watson or Day, he is 3rd in strokes gained tee-to-green, 5th in scrambling and 1st in par-4 scoring average. Just three weeks ago, Spieth was a shoo-in for Player-of-the-Year honors, but if Day continues his scorching play and wins the FedEx Cup, the tide could easily turn. TPC Boston is a good course for Spieth, and this is the week he needs to send a message that he is still the best player of 2015.
5. Brooks Koepka – 293 points
Koepka’s great summer came to an abrupt end with a missed cut at the Barclays, but he didn’t play terribly despite posting his first back-to-back over-par rounds since the U.S. Open (rounds 1 and 2.) The 25-year old will make his first start at the Deutsche Bank and he has the numbers to do well, ranking 7th in driving distance, 11th in greens in regulation and 11th strokes gained putting. The big challenge will be contending in his first start, but just two years ago, first-timer Henrik Stenson took the title, so it can be done.
6. Henrik Stenson – 266.67 points
One of the game’s finest ball strikers, Stenson finished 2nd at the Barclays despite some really poor putting—he was 30th in strokes gained putting and missed 10 of 75 putts from inside ten feet. This is not a new problem for Stenson, but he has proven he can win despite a balky flat-stick, as he did in 2013 when he won both the Deutsche Bank and the Tour Championship to take home the FedEx Cup title. This hasn’t been the healthiest of years for Stenson, but he is close to 100% now and seems to improve with each round. Since shooting an opening round 76 at the PGA Championship, he is 22-under par in his last seven rounds, a trend that should continue this week.
7. Jim Furyk – 255.16 points
Furyk continued to cruise along with a solid T-11 at the Barclays, further proof that the 45-year old is one of those rare golfers who can play well in just about any event on just about any course. Despite being one of the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour (161st), Furyk has still managed three top-tens in ten Deutsche Bank starts, but the fact is he would need one of the best weeks of his life to have any chance of victory.
8. Branden Grace – 236 points
His PGA Tour year came to a close with a T-47 at Wyndham, and despite having enough points to qualify for the playoffs, he isn’t a full member of the PGA Tour so will have to sit this year out. Grace is back home in Fancourt, South Africa where he’s been working with EyeGym, a company that specializes in helping athletes improve their play with their eyes, and gearing up for the Presidents Cup. Another plus, the 27-year old did earn enough points—and dollars—to secure his card for next year and will become a full-fledged PGA Tour member when the new season kicks off with October’s Frys.com Open.
9. Zach Johnson – 235 points
Johnson bounced back from a missed cut at the PGA with a T-4 at the Barclays thanks to a consistent week with four under par rounds, his best start since winning the Open Championship. But TPC Boston will be a challenge as he ranks T-154th in driving distance, 123rd in strokes gained putting, 69th in scrambling and 32nd in greens in regulation. His best finish in nine Deutsche Bank starts was a T-13 in 2004, so it’s likely Johnson will at best be gunning for a top-10 in hopes of moving up the FedEx points list.
10. Robert Streb – 233.16 points
Streb started out strong with a pair of 68s to open the Barclays, but soon fell off the pace with a 70-73 on the weekend. He’ll head to TPC Boston with some good memories after finishing T-9 last year despite an opening round 73. The Oklahoma native has the stats to play well— 38th in driving distance, 16th in greens in regulation and T-8 in par-4 scoring average, so if your looking for a long shot, Streb could be your man.
Inside the rankings:
*Off the GOLFstats player rankings, we determine the hottest players based on the last nine weeks on the PGA Tour. Keys to the system:
*132 points for regular tour win. All finishers in top-50 get points via a declining scale.
*198 points for a win in WGC events and the Players Championship, 264 points for a major win.
*Points are lost for missed cuts, DQs or WDs: 10 for regular events, 15 for WGC and Players, 20 for majors
*All points get degraded 1/3 after weeks 4, 5 & 6, and by 2/3 for weeks 7, 8 & 9