The Northern Trust Wrap-Up
Last week concluded The Northern Trust, the first leg in the 2021 FedEx Cup playoffs. Tropical storm Henri made Sunday a washout at Liberty National, so the final round was pushed back to Monday—and it was a big day for Tony Finau. He finally broke his five-year winless drought by outlasting 28-year-old Australian, Cameron Smith, in a hard-fought playoff that lasted four holes. Known for his prodigious length, Finau has been steadily climbing into the ranks of golf’s elite since recording 16 top 25’s in his first full year on tour back in 2015, and following that up with his first win at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016. Although he recorded 32 top 10 finishes from 2017 through 2020, that second victory eluded him. This year Tony’s been knocking even harder on the door, with 8 more top 10’s, including a runner-up at the Genesis (where he lost in a playoff with Max Homa), a 10th at the Masters and an 8th place finish at the PGA. He also recorded a solid 15th place finish at The Open Championship. With the win at the Northern Trust, Finau has vaulted all the way to number 1 in the FedEx Cup standings, 600 points ahead of Jon Rahm. He certainly has the talent, so perhaps this victory will give Tony the confidence to muscle his way all the way to the top and lift the FedEx Cup—we will sure be pulling for him.
The BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, MD is the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. The top 70 players in the standings are competing for a place among the 30 player Tour Championship field at East Lake Golf Club next week, with millions of dollars on the line, so hang on to your hat this weekend as the best players in world put the pedal to the metal. In addition to the red hot Finau, an equally blazing hot Jon Rahm will be vying to recapture the top spot. Then add two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Bryson Dechambeau, Hideki Matsuyama, and Justin Thomas to the mix. And don’t forget about Jordan Spieth, who’s having a spectacular year and would like nothing more than to cap it off with the FedEx Cup. And then there’s Dustin Johnson, who could more than salvage a dismal season (by Dustin Johnson standards) with two solid weeks of playing the way everyone expects him to. And perhaps Phil can pull another golden rabbit out of his hat? One thing’s for sure, this is going to be one heck of a weekend to watch golf.
The FedEx Cup
The FedEx Cup playoffs began in 2007, and was originally comprised of four tournaments. Beginning in 2018, the playoff series was shortened to three events. The playoffs are structured where throughout the tour season a player is awarded 500 points for each regular season tour win. Players are awarded 2000 points for a FedEx Cup playoff win, 550 points for a World Golf Championship, 600 points for a Major or the Players Championship, and 300 points for a tournament played alternately during a major or World Golf Event. The playoffs begin with the top 125 players competing at the Northern Trust, reducing to 70 for the BMW Championship, and finally down to 30 for the Tour Championship. Right now, Tony Finau leads the race with 3,348, with Jon Rahm on his heels at 2,763 points. Cameron Smith, Patrick Cantley, and Justin Thomas make up the 3,4, and 5 positions in the standings, with dozens of other top tier players within striking distance.
The BMW Championship is being hosted at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. Caves Valley was established in 1991, and designed by legendary course architect, Tom Fazio. Although this is the first PGA Tour event held at Caves Valley, the club has hosted a number of prestigious tournaments in the past, including the U.S. Senior Open in 2002, the LPGA Tour’s International Crown tournament in 2014, the 2017 Constellation Senior Players Championship, as well as the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur, and the 2007 Palmer Cup. Caves Valley carries a 76.9 USGA rating with a slope of 141 from the championship tees.