It was an exciting time at Sedgefield Country Club last weekend in Greensboro. My three-year-old, who also likes golf, was a late sub for my five-year-old, who was under the weather for most of the weekend. So we walked the beautiful, lush green course at Sedgefield, and had awesome bleacher seats to see Jordan Spieth‘s dramatic putt to force what turned into a two-hole playoff, eventually won by Patrick Reed. It was a memorable tournament, and the last of the regular season.
The only disappointment was for me. I dropped a ball within five feet on a Par 3 simulator, and held the closest to the pin mark for a couple of hours before someone came along to dash my dreams of a big prize. However, thanks to GEICO, Humana, Nature Valley and Wyndham, I did come away with plenty of swag. Thanks to GEICO especially, as I now have enough tees to last until next season’s tournament.
This week the playoffs start in the shadows of New York City at Liberty National Golf Club, and players ranked No. 125 or higher in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible to tee it up. Steve Stricker is missing from the field, as he is playing a limited schedule this year, and he did not commit to attending. Zach Johnson is also set to attend his brother’s wedding, so he will be out. However, there are 123 players ready to play, and it should be an exciting event to kick off the postseason.
The Barclays, Jersey City, N.J.
Purse – $5.3 million
Winner Share – $1,440,000.00
FedEx Cup Points – 2,500 points to winner
Course – Liberty National Golf Club, Jersey City, N.J.
Thursday, Aug. 22 – Golf Channel – 3-6pm ET
Friday, Aug. 23 – Golf Channel – 3-6pm ET
Saturday, Aug. 24 – Golf Channel – 1-2:30pm ET, CBS – 3-6pm ET
Sunday, Aug. 25 – Golf Channel – 12n -1:30pm ET, CBS – 2-6pm ET
At first glance, some of the holes along the Hudson Bay could be mistaken for the countryside in Scotland, if not for the huge skyscrapers visible in the distance just across the water in New York.
The first hole begins with a dogleg right, and there is a creek running along the right side of the fairway before cutting across the hole right before the green. It’s a challenging hole to begin, before players drop the ball onto a pancake-flat green. The greens will get increasingly tricky as the day goes on.
The third hole has been altered from past years, with the fairway widened to encourage use of the driver. However, mounds have also been added to the left side, and a player’s second shot might be a blind one if their drive lands in the wrong area. That makes it a very tricky proposition heading into what is the smallest green on the course. The Par 5 fifth hole also had the fairway widened. There are trees which stand at attention along both sides of the fairway, but well struck drives to the middle can make this green reachable in two. Eagle possibilities are there for the heavy hitters.
The ninth hole also has a creek crossing the fairway, and there is a lake which can also be problematic on the left side.
The 11th hole is a 250-yard Par 3, which would be a short Par 4 for the average player. However, since this hole plays downhill, the yardage shouldn’t be a big deal. What could be a problem is yet another lake, and a large trap which wraps around most of the left side of the green. Any errant shots here could turn a birdie or par into a nightmare.
Hole No. 13 could be unlucky for some. The Par 5 is 563 yards, and the second shot will be decision time for the players. There is a lake in front of the green, and there are great views of the Statue of Liberty, too. This place didn’t get its name for nothing.
The 17th and 18th holes might vary greatly each day of the tournament depending upon the wind. Some days the wind could be extremely difficult, and the other days it might not be a factor at all. It will come right off the bay, and that will be something to watch heading into the weekend. The 18th hole has plenty of pitfalls which could turn championship dreams into a nightmare. There are mounds, bunkers, a sloping green, and again, that wind. The final hole will be fun to watch.
Blixt has been playing with a lot of fervor lately. This season was a disaster at the start, but a win at The Greenbrier Classic July 7 really turned around his fortunes. Since his win, he laid an egg at the John Deere, but then posted a pair of Top 26 finishes in The Open Championship and The PGA Championship. His confidence appears to be growing by the day, and a fourth-place showing at Oak Hill shows he is more than ready for the big stage.
Watson stands third on the driving distance list, tied with Gary Woodland at an average of 304.1 yards. That extra yardage on his drives might help him to a couple of eagles, especially at the aforementioned heavy-hitter-friendly fifth hole. Watson skipped the Wyndham Championship after flaming out at Oak Hill the previous week, missing the cut at The PGA Championship. I see a bounce-back week for Bubba in Jersey City. He had made the cut in eight straight events prior to the PGA, finishing 37th or better in events from May 9 through Aug. 4.
Bradley has rolled up three straight Top 20 finishes, and he has made the cut in five consecutive events. His runner-up finish at the Bridgestone was mostly forgotten about because everyone was gushing over Tiger, but Bradley’s was a pretty tremendous showing at 8-under. He bagged nearly $700K as a result. In fact, despite zero victories this season, he ranks 10th in the FedEx Cup Playoff standings. He might not get a win at Liberty National, but a Top 20 finish is a good possibility. He is just consistent, and doesn’t make too many mistakes. That’s indicated by the fact he is No. 3 in All-Around Ranking, which is computed by adding each player’s rank in scoring average, driving distance, driving accuracy percentage, greens in regulation, putting average (per hole), eagles (per hole), birdies average and sand save percentage.
If you’re looking for a mid-tier Fantasy sleeper, the former University of Oklahoma standout might be your guy. He posted a 63 in his final round at Sedgefield last weekend, scooting up to 16th place at the Wyndham Championship. That gave him his fourth Top 30 finish in the past six events.
The ‘other’ Johnson might make more headlines, but this Johnson will be front and center in New Jersey this weekend. Johnson has rattled off four straight finishes of 33rd or better, including a runner-up at the RBC Canadian Open, and a tied for eighth place at The PGA Championship. He has made six consecutive cuts dating back to The Memorial. After some disastrous and uncharacteristic play in May, which was mostly, if not all, in part due to a lower back injury, Johnson appears healthy, energized and ready for big things down the stretch.
Kuchar is a nice, safe play. He has been 38th or better in 18 of his 19 events this season, and he has not missed any cuts. In other words, he is a Fantasy owners dream. Kuchar is the best player on tour yet to win a major, and that ship has sailed for 2013. However, he can make some noise in the playoffs, win the FedEx Cup, and add to his impressive resume. He’ll go a long way in doing so with another nice finish at Liberty National.
While Day hasn’t hoisted any trophies this season either, he has made the cut in each of the event he has played. Rarely does Day have a bad round. In fact, he has shot over 74 just six of his 64 rounds on The PGA Tour this season. He is coming off an eighth-place showing at Oak Hill, and he has been 32nd of better in eight of his past 10 events. One of the keys to Day’s game is his ability to get out of trouble, posting a 62.62 sand save percentage, which ranks ninth on the tour.
If there is a hotter golfer going right now, I can’t name him. Sure, Stenson hasn’t actually won any of his past three events, but he hasn’t finished lower than third, including two runner-up finishes in two majors. That’s a pretty strong month. He has not missed the cut since May 3 at the Wells Fargo Championship, a span of seven straight events, and he has been no worse than 41st in any of the tournaments since Charlotte. In fact, he has missed just that one cut in 12 PGA Tour events dating back to March at The Honda Classic. Stenson, who ranks second in greens in regulation (GIR) at 70.72, is a strong Fantasy option worth using in all formats.
Daily Fantasy Selections (based on DraftStreet.com salaries or tiers)
Tier 1 – Henrik Stenson – Third or better in three straight tournaments. Sign me up!
Tier 2 – Dustin Johnson – Consistent, steady play over the past four events
Tier 3 – Matt Kuchar – He might not win consistently, but he will always be there Sunday
Tier 4 – Bill Haas – One of the most underrated golfers on the tour
Tier 5 – Bubba Watson – His length off the tee will help him stand out at Liberty Nat’l
Tier 6 – Jonas Blixt – I like the way Rory Sabbatini has been playing lately, but Blixt has been just as hot
SALARY CAP DRAFT
Henrik Stenson $24,611 – Again, three straight Top 3s is hard to pass up
Dustin Johnson $20,201 – Johnson has avoided mistakes, and his safe play will benefit him this week
Matt Kuchar $19,058 – Kuchar will always be there on the weekend competing for a Top 10
Jordan Spieth $16,069 – Spieth came up just short in a two-hole playoff at the Wyndham last week
Martin Flores $10,490 – He has been playing well enough for Fantasy owners to trust as their fifth or sixth option
Jeff Maggert $9,417 – The 49-year-old has been enjoying a rejuvenation of sorts
*All stats up-to-date as of 08/19/13.