5 big-name pros at risk of missing the Tour Championship

August 16, 2019

Sixty-nine players are in the field at this week’s BMW. Only 30 will have the honor of pegging it at next week’s Tour Championship. On the PGA Tour, it’s time to separate the haves from the really-haves, which means that some stars will inevitably get left on the outside looking in. We won’t walk you through any brain-breaking scenarios, but we will give you an idea of which big names are on bubble watch at Medinah.

1. TOMMY FLEETWOOD (FedEx Cup rank beginning the week: No. 24)

It’s been a bit of a strange season for Tommy Fleetwood. On the one hand, he’s among the most consistent performers in the world, as evidenced by his last missed PGA Tour cut, which came at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. Despite some top finishes (highlighted by solo 2nd at the Open Championship) he remains winless on the PGA Tour. As a result, Fleetwood needs a solid showing this week to guarantee he ends up in Atlanta.

HIDEKI MATSUYAMA (No. 33)

In some ways, Matsuyama’s season has mirrored that of Fleetwood, just slightly less so. We’re a couple years removed from Hideki’s consistent presence in the top five in the world, and it’s worth a peek back at his final five tournament results from 2016: 1-2-1-1-1. Granted, two of those wins came on the Japan Tour and another at the Hero World Challenge, but Hideki felt fully ascendent (and reached No. 2 in the world just a few months later).

That’s all a roundabout way of saying nothing is certain. Of late, Matsuyama has battled injury, slipped to No. 32 in the world and is an infrequent tournament contender. But he hasn’t been bad, either: Matsuyama didn’t miss a cut between the 2018 and 2019 Open Championships. But just a single top-five finish this season had him entering the week at No. 33, distinctly on the bubble. A hot start to Friday’s round catapulted him into the lead (and an obvious position to jump toward the top of the standings), but he’ll need to keep making birdies at Medinah for anything to be a guarantee.

TIGER WOODS (No. 38)

You’ve heard of this particular pursuit — Woods needs roughly a top-10 finish to punch his ticket to the Tour Championship, where he’s hoping to defend his title. The very fact that Woods pushed through an oblique injury to show up this week is evidence enough that he cares about his showing; Woods doesn’t play any events he doesn’t want to. The second dynamic at play is his desire to show strong form leading into December’s Presidents Cup. Although Woods can’t qualify on points, he can keep himself in the conversation in a positive light before a long layoff — his next start may well come at October’s Zozo Championship.

JORDAN SPIETH (No. 44)

A look at Jordan Spieth’s recent record suggests a player in strong form: four top-10s and six top-20s in his last nine starts. But his bipolarity on weekdays versus weekends, which GOLF.com has well-documented, has kept him from gaining traction in the FedEx Cup. As a result, Spieth will need to reverse the trend and work some weekend magic at the BMW if he has any hope of making it to East Lake — and into the Presidents Cup conversation. Speaking of which…

Jordan Spieth will need to catapult up the BMW weekend leaderboard for any chance at the Tour Championship.
Getty Images

PHIL MICKELSON (No. 46)

It would appear that Lefty’s streak of consecutive U.S. teams (dating back to 1994) is in grave jeopardy, at least as a player. Mickelson’s dismal recent record (MC-T71-MC-T52-MC-MC-MC-57-T71) has betrayed his early-season form: Mickelson had a win and a runner-up in his first three starts of 2019. Now, he’s working hard on his Twitter game and sliding ably into assistant-captain form. A lethargic start to his BMW Championship all but assured that we’ve seen the end of Mickelson’s PGA Tour season.

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