As the FedEx Cup playoffs get started today at Conway Farms Golf Course, 40 of the 70 players teeing it up in the BMW Championship will have to go home when it’s over on Sunday afternoon. Only the top 30 players will move on to the Tour Championship next week in Atlanta, the remainder will need to make other plans. All 70 players will play for the entire week as there will be no 36-hole cut on Friday evening.
At the outset, there are some interesting people who are in the abyss between position 31 and position 70, and unless they come out swinging, face the possibility of not moving on.
The most interesting is the defending champion at the BMW who is in such a position. Rory McIlroy has not made much happen in 2013, and starts his defense in 41st position, and will need to kick it up a notch, or he will not be making a trip to East Lake.
Rickie Fowler, like Rory, hasn’t shown us much during the 2013 season, and finds himself in 36th position as action gets started. Fowler’s best finish this year was a T 3 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Bay Hill was one of only five top ten finishes for the season. He finished T 9 at the Barclays, but missed the cut in Boston two weeks ago.
Bubba Watson finds himself in 40th position at the start of play, one spot ahead of McIlroy. The 2012 Masters Champion needs to get off to a good start at Conway Farms if he intends to move on. Bubba hasn’t had a particularly good season this year. Fourth place was his best effort, and he did that four times in 2013. He too had a decent finish at The Barclays, but finished behind Tiger Woods in Boston with a T 67.
Graeme McDowell has not had such a good playoff. He missed the cut at Liberty National, and finished T 47 at The Deutsche Bank. He starts The BMW in 48th position, and will need to get off to a good start on Thursday if he wants a spot at East Lake. The 2010 US Open Champ has either played well this year, on he sucked. There has been on middle ground with him. If history holds, he will be spending some time getting ready for the Race To Dubai which gets underway next month.
Last but not least, Lee Westwood. Westwood begins the BMW Championship on the bubble position at number 30. He hasn’t had a very good playoff at this point, finishing T 25 at the Barclays, and T 27 at the Deutsche Bank. That kind of average finish will not earn the 40 year-old Brit a spot in the Tour Championship. His move to the US was made to improve his chances to win a major this year, but that didn’t happen. He played well at the Masters and US Open, but neither effort yielded a win.
There are some people who will begin inside the top 30 this week that will lose ground, and face the chance of not making the trip to Atlanta. I feel like some of the young guns just outside of the bubble will be looking to get on top early, and could very well climb into the top 30.
Kevin Stadler starts in 32nd spot, and was playing well at both the Barclays, and the Deutsche Bank. He put up a 64 at Liberty National, which was good for a piece of the first round lead. The son of Craig Stadler fell on some hard times, but came back strong at TPC Boston and got a T 4 for his effort. If he can continue, he may well find a way to get to Atlanta.
Ian Poulter is one to keep an eye on during the early rounds. Poulter starts play in 52nd position, but not for a bad break on the 72nd hole at the Deutsche Bank, may have well started this week inside the bubble. He finished T 9 on Labor Day, and looked to have most of his game working, including his putter. All one needs to do is look back at the 2012 Ryder Cup to see how well he can play in the Chicago area. I expect to see Ian Poulter in Atlanta next week.