We are well into July, and although the long lay-off makes it feel like the PGA season only just began, the FedEx Cup playoffs are right around the corner. A number of youngsters have burst onto the scene in a big way, and this year looks to be the most exciting run to the tour championship and $15 million dollar FedEx Cup purse ever.
Currently Webb Simpson is the leader, with 1,660 points on the strength of 6 top ten’s, including two wins in 2019-2020 wrap-around season. After reaching the pinnacle of professional golf with a win at the 2012 US Open, the putter he used to get him there was removed from his bag when the Tour announced in 2013 that “Anchored Putters” would no longer be allowed beginning with the 2016 season. Simpson had to re-build his putting stroke, and even more importantly, his confidence, but it appears that all of his hard work has him ready to add another major to his resume—and perhaps the FedEx Cup as well. Justin Thomas is hot on his heels with 1,543 points. Thomas has recorded 5 top-10’s with two wins thus far, and charged to the third-round lead at the Workday Open at Muirfield Village with consecutive 66’s (he shot 68 in the opening round). With Simpson taking this week off, Thomas can move into the FedEx Cup point lead by finishing 4th or better. At number 3 is Sungjae Im, a 22 year old from the Republic of Korea, who won the Honda and followed that up with a top-5 at Bay Hill just before the suspension of play. Im recorded a top-10 at the Charles Schwab Challenge when play resumed at Colonial in June. In 4th place is Bryson DeChambou (“The Mad Scientist”), who bombed the field with 350 plus yard drives at Detroit Golf Club to win the Rocket Mortgage Classic last week. Rory McIlroy is lurking at number 5, with a win and 6 top-10 finishes. While Rory has gotten off to a bit of a slow start since play resumed, expect him to make a charge beginning at the Memorial next week with Tiger in the field. Patrick Reed, dubbed “Captain America” for his gritty play at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, sits just behind McIlroy at number 6. Reed has a win (WGC-Mexico) and 4 top-10’s thus far in the 2019-2020 campaign.
Coming into this week, twenty-one-year-old Californian Colin Morikawa stood at 21st in the FedEx standings, and precision iron play reminiscent of Johnny Miller have him only 3 shots behind Thomas after the 3rd round at the Workday Open–a big Sunday would vault him into the top 10. Another youngster, 22-year-old Victor Hovland from Norway who played college golf at OSU, stands at 35th on the FedEx Cup standings. Hovland started the final round at the Workday only 2 shots behind Thomas, and he also would shoot up to the top ten with a win.
Tiger will be making his first start in 3 months at next week’s Memorial Tournament, and he has won Jack’s event 5 times. All eyes will be glued to the screen to see what he has in store after such a long lay-off (Tiger will also be looking to record his 83rd Tour win and break Sam Snead’s record). There have been some rumors that his back troubles may have returned, but he looked solid at the end of May in the match with Phil, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brooks Koepka is another force to be reckoned with down the stretch run. Looking to win an unprecedented three consecutive PGA Championships, Koepka has displayed Tiger-like ability and resolve at the biggest events under maximum pressure. Jordan Spieth has started to show signs of returning to major championship form, but has been unable to put four solid rounds together so far—still, don’t be surprised if he suddenly bursts onto the scene when the FedEx playoffs get going. And coming off his win at the Travelers, Dustin Johnson appears ready to make a move and remind us of why he is number 3 in the world rankings. Keep an eye on Patrick Cantley as well, who has quietly edged closer to the top 30 with his game peaking at exactly the right time. When you add John Rahm (number 2 in the world), Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Jason Day to the mix, the next month and half of pure excitement will more than make up for those dreary days when there was no golf to watch.
Get more detailed course information on the East Lake Golf Club courtesy of GolfDay.