After 123 rounds of individual stroke play on the PGA TOUR this season, the final formation of the FedExCup Playoffs comes down to Sunday’s finale at the Wyndham Championship. Only the top 70 will make the first Playoffs event next week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and several spots are still in question.
With No. 68 Ben Griffin and No. 70 Austin Eckroat missing the cut earlier this week, that only adds intrigue to the potential possibilities. Through three rounds, co-leaders Billy Horschel and Lucas Glover would overtake those two spots (with No. 69 Cam Davis playing his way up the standings), but with 18 holes left, they aren’t the only potentialities.
Here are the four bubble boys with the best chance to play their way in – and what they need to do to make it happen on Sunday at Sedgefield Country Club.
Started the week: 119th
Currently projected: 53rd
Let’s start with the simplest scenario. If Horschel wins, he will make the FedExCup Playoffs and likely finish around No. 52 in the standings. He’s in position to make it happen after a third-round 63 vaulted him into a tie for the lead with Lucas Glover.
It starts to get complicated if he lets the win slip away. Horschel entered the week with 350 FedExCup points, trailing No. 70 Austin Eckroat by 244 points. To pass Eckroat, who missed the cut this week, Horschel needs at least a two-way tie for second. But passing Eckroat alone likely won’t be enough for Horschel, as several other bubble players are in contention and could play spoiler.
With current projections, a two-way tie for second would leave him No. 74 in the standings. A solo second could be good enough to make it (moves him to 68th in current projections); however, many players are lurking. In that scenario, Vincent Norrman (T43), Matt NeSmith (72), J.J. Spaun (T51), Justin Thomas (T11) and Davis Thompson (T21) are all within 52 FedExCup points. Several strong rounds by any of them could leave Horschel on the outside looking in.
Started the week: 112th
Currently projected: 50th
Glover’s scenarios look much like Horschel’s, though he began the week with 385 FedExCup points, 35 more than Horschel. That could be crucial if Glover fails to win. Unlike Horschel, a solo-second finish comfortably moves Glover inside the top 70 (he would currently slot in at No. 64 and ahead of Sam Stevens, Aaron Rai and Beau Hossler, who all missed the cut).
Glover’s position gets tenuous if he loses any more ground. A two-way tie for second currently moves him to No. 70 in projections, ripe for all the same names nipping at Horschel’s heels to play spoiler to Glover’s pursuit. He cannot advance with a three-way tie for second or worse.
Started the week: 79th
Currently projected: 72nd
Thomas’ path becomes much easier if Horschel and/or Glover falter, although he has a path even if they don’t. Based on current projections, if Horschel and Glover finish 1-2 (in either order), Thomas still has a chance to qualify for the Playoffs if he finishes seventh or better. He could also make the Playoffs in that scenario if he ends in a tie for seventh, though it will depend on how many people he shares the position with and where other players on the bubble finish.
If Horschel and Glover return to the field, Thomas’ route will get much more manageable. Given current projections, Thomas would sneak in at No. 70 if he holds his position in a five-way tie for 11th and Horschel and Glover fail to finish in a two-way tie for second or better, though that assumes no other leaderboard movement.
The bottom line: it gets complicated. Thomas will try to make it simple. He will need another solid round to do it.
“It’s very similar to Q-School,” Thomas said after his third-round 66 moved him into a five-way tie for 11th. “I didn’t go into the final stage of Q-School trying to finish 45th, I went there trying to win a golf tournament. If I just came up short, then it was going to be plenty to qualify. It’s a very different but somewhat similar situation here.”
Thomas’ most straightforward path to the top 70 is a three-way tie for fourth or better, which is almost certainly enough, regardless of how the leaderboard shakes out. He’s six shots behind Byeong Hun An, who is in fourth place alone.
Started the week: 75th
Currently projected: 73rd
Thompson’s easiest path is a two-way tie for fifth. Based on TOUR projections, that will likely get him in regardless of how the field finishes. At 7-under, T21, he has some ground to make up to make that a reality. He does hold a 13-point FedExCup advantage over Thomas, though. So if it comes down to one spot between them, Thompson would win the tiebreak if he can pull even with Thomas on Sunday. That will be his first order of business.
While it is mathematically possible for Horschel, Glover, Thomas and Thompson to all make the Playoffs, it remains a very remote scenario. Currently fourth among them in the projected standings, Thompson will benefit significantly if any of the other three go backward in the final round.
Source : PGA Tour