The ever-changing FedEx Cup Playoffs have arrived, with Plainfield CC hosting the Barclays for the first time since Dustin Johnson won the 54-hole, rain-shortened event in 2011. There are a number of guys with a legit shot at taking home the $10 million bonus—even Jordan Spieth’s current 1710-point lead over Jason Day atop the standings isn’t safe.
Plainfield CC, a 1916 Donald Ross design, has hosted several prestigious events and has been renovated and restored by Gil Hanse and his team over the last decade. In 2011, the last time it held the Barclays, the Edison, N.J., course produced Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker and Jonathan Byrd as top-five finishers. That week, the best performing putters rose to the top, with all five of those players finishing top-10 in a significant putting measurement (strokes gained, total putts, putts/GIR, distance of putts made, etc.) Of the top two finishers, Johnson finished T8 in total putts and T7 in putts/GIR while Kuchar led the field in both of those statistics.
With those numbers in mind, here are a few guys we like this week, based on putting performance and recent form. Also featured is a look at the putter each player will have in play at the Barclays.
Koepka has finished T6 twice and T5 once in his last three starts, and doesn’t have a finish worse than T18 since the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June. The 25-year-old is eighth on Tour in strokes gained putting, first in putting from four to eight feet and 12th in putting inside 10 feet. His ball striking skills hardly need recognizing at this point (seventh in driving distance; 20th in strokes gained tee-to-green) and a win at Plainfield CC would launch Brooks into the $10 million conversation.
Koepka is putting with a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 SLT T10, the same putter he used en route to victory at the Waste Managament Phoenix Open.
Lee has played more tournaments than anyone on the PGA Tour this season (31 starts) and has finished in the top six in four of his last six events, a stretch that dates back to his first Tour victory at the Greenbrier Classic. Lee, also 25, is 28th on Tour in strokes gained putting, 11th in putting average and 11th in putts per round (28.26). From 10-15 feet Lee ranks seventh on tour, having made 92 of 245 attempts in that range this season, and is currently 10th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Lee is putting with an Odyssey Works Versa #9, the same putter he won with at the Greenbrier.
Kuch finished second at Plainfield in 2011 and may have won had the final round not been rained out. He’s coming off two T7 finishes in his last three starts, including at the PGA Championship, and, at 26th in the FedEx Cup standings, is having a fairly lackluster season by his high standards. Notoriously one of the game’s best putters, Kuchar currently ranks 29th in strokes gained putting, eighth in putting average and fifth in one-putt percentage (43.3 percent).
Kuchar is putting with a Bettinardi Kuchar Model 2 with 5° of loft.
Hoffmann has been on somewhat of a cold streak lately, but he has the ability to win and a bit of local knowledge on his side, too, having grown up only an hour from Plainfield CC. He’s also coming off a solid T26 at the Wyndham Championship, jump-started by a first-round 63. Hoffmann is T33 in strokes gained putting and ranks top 10 in each of the following stats: putting average (sixth), three-put avoidance (10th at 1.95 percent) and putts per round (fifth at 28.14). Some confidence and local comfort could be the formula Hoffmann needs to drastically improve his current FedEx Cup ranking of 82nd—and maybe even snag his first Tour victory.
Hoffmann is putting with a Scotty Cameron Futura X.
Check back Monday to see how our picks fared and which club(s) played the biggest role in determining victory.