By Tom LaMarre
Tiger Woods, the only two-time winner of the FedEx Cup, has committed to the first two events of the playoffs, starting with The Northern Trust this week at Liberty National Golf Club www.libertynationalgc.com in Jersey City, N.J.
The 43-year-old Woods has played only 10 times on the PGA Tour this season, and not since he missed the cut in the Open Championship last month at Royal Portrush, but he is No. 28 in the FedEx Cup standings thanks to his 15th major victory in the Masters.
Woods has not played on consecutive weeks since the Genesis Open at Riviera and the WGC-Mexico Championship in February.
“Ready to begin the FedExCup playoffs starting with @TheNTGolf and then the @BMWChamps. Hope to see you there,” Woods tweeted last Wednesday.
Woods has a bit of work to do in the first two events of the playoffs if he wants to remain in the top 30 in the standings and make it back to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the Tour Championship—which he won for the second time last year.
If he qualifies for the finale, it will be the first time he plays three week in a row since the FedEx Cup playoffs last year.
Woods, who finished second both times the playoff opener was held at Liberty National in 2009 and 2013, captured the FedEx Cup in 2007 and 2009. The BMW Championship next week will be contested at Medinah outside Chicago, where Tiger claimed the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006.
His game has been up-and-down this season, but one thing we have learned is to never count him out.
However, the favorite has to be top-ranked Brooks Koepka, who has won four majors in the last three seasons, recently captured the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and leads the FedEx Cup point standings.
“To look at what I’ve done this year, just show consistency, try to take my game to a new level, and I’ve done that,” said Koepka, who has won three times this season. “To be up there in the FedExCup with a chance in Atlanta, that’s incredible.”
All of the best players in the world will be at Liberty National, including 2016 FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, defending FedEx Cup champ Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Patrick Cantlay, defending Northern Trust champion Bryson DeChambeau, 2017 FedEx Cup winner Justin Thomas and Tommy Fleetwood.
Other former FedEx Cup champions in the field include Jordan Spieth (2015), Billy Horschel (2014), Henrik Stenson (2013), Brandt Snedeker (2012) and Jim Furyk (2010).
The field is limited to the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, with 70 advancing to the BMW Championship and 30 making it all the way to the Tour Championship.
In the end, only one will be left standing at East Lake.
- Brooks Koepka, United States – Not only is Koepka the top-ranked player in the world, but he enters the playoffs leading the FedEx Cup standings. He has won four majors in the last three years and recently captured his first World Golf Championship, but he has never won a playoff event. His best finish in the standings was ninth last year.
- Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – The 2016 FedEx Cup champion won twice in the playoffs that season and his four titles overall are tied with Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson for the most in the post-season. McIlroy, second in the standings, skipped the playoff opener last year and his best finish in the first event was a tie for 19th in 2013.
- Justin Rose, England – The defending FedEx Cup champion claimed the title by finishing in the top five three times after he missed the cut in the Northern Trust. Rose, whose only victory in the playoffs came in the 2011 BMW Championship, is 11th in the point standings as he tries to become the first back-to-back FedEx Cup champion.
- Jon Rahm, Spain – Although he has become one of the best players in the world at the age of 24, Rahm has never won a major, a WGC event or a playoff tournament. He teamed with Ryan Palmer to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this season and is 10th in the FedEx Cup standings. Tied for third in the Northern Trust two years ago.
- Dustin Johnson, United States – While it’s surprising that DJ has claimed only one major title, he is tied with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy with four victories in the playoffs, including the Northern Trust two years ago. Despite those victories, he has never won the FedEx Cup title, with his best finish second behind McIlroy in 2016.
- Bryson DeChambeau, United States – Captured the Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship to open the playoffs last year and finished third in the final standings behind winner Justin Rose and Tiger Woods. DeChambeau captured the Shriners early this season and starts the playoffs at No. 18 in the point standings.
- Matt Kuchar, United States – Kooch, who won the Mayakoba Classic and the Sony Open early this season, led the point standings much of the way and comes into the playoffs at No. 3. His only post-season victory came in the 2013 opener, then known as the Barclays, and his highest finish in the point standings was third in 2010.
- Paul Casey, England – Repeating as Valspar Championship winner and five other top-10 results this season have Casey entering the playoffs at No. 8 in the point standings. In 2016, he finished second in both the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship, and fourth in the Tour Championship to wind up fourth in the standings.
- Marc Leishman, Australia – By claiming victory in the CIMB Classic and recording six other top-10 finishes this season, Leishman comes into the post-season at No. 12 in the FedEx Cup point standings. The Aussie captured his only playoff victory last season in the BMW Championship by posting a tournament record score of 23-under par.
- Tiger Woods, United States – Came close to winning the FedEx Cup for a third time last year when he won the Tour Championship and finished second in the point standings behind Justin Rose. He claimed the FedEx Cup in 2007 and 2009, finished second in 2013 and was third in 2012. Woods has tied for second twice in the playoff opener.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH – Justin Thomas, United States; Francesco Molinari, Italy; Patrick Cantlay, United States; Adam Scott, Australia; Webb Simpson, United States; Xander Schauffele, United States; Rickie Fowler, United States; Gary Woodland, United States; Jason Day, Australia; Shane Lowry, Ireland.
- Collin Morikawa, United States – The rookie from Cal captured the Barracuda Championship and finished the regular season 49th in the standings in only seven starts.
- Rory Sabbatini, Slovakia – Although he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since 2011, Sabbatini starts the playoffs 36th in the points thanks to six top-10 finishes this season.
- Sungjae Im, South Korea – A two-time winner on the Web.com Tour last year, Im has seven top-10s on the PGA Tour this season and opens the playoffs 23rd in the standings.
- Dylan Frittelli, South Africa – Opens the post-season at No. 53 in the standings after claiming his first PGA Tour victory in John Deere Classic and adding three other top 25s.
- Matthew Wolff, United States – After winning the NCAA Championship in May, Wolff won the 3M Open in his third pro start. Is 70th in the standing after seven events.
For first-round tee times visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html