And then there were 70. Or 69 if Tiger Woods’ health woes continue and he can’t tee it up this week.
The second event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Ill., has both good news and bad news for players who survived Round 1 of the playoffs.
First the good news: With just 70 players in the field, there is no cut so everyone plays four rounds and earns a healthy paycheck.
Now the bad news: The field will be cut to the top 30 players in the standings after the final round so that will wind up as the final paycheck of this wraparound season for the 40 who don’t advance to Atlanta for the finale.
Let the mad scramble begin.
For those in the top 20, that’s not going to be a problem if they play well. For the rest of the field, it’s time to not only concentrate on your golf game, but also on the scoreboards all around the course.
It’s a math game this week. If you’re 31st on the FedEx Cup list and finish ahead of the guy who is 30th, the question is do you pick up enough points to move into the finals next week with the chance for the top prize? Well, the simple answer is, maybe. And the reasoning has all to do with that math. The players above you and below you could finish better or worse and all that potential shuffling will really disrupt the math we’ve been relying on for the past couple of weeks.
But, let’s get back to the top of the list and check on those players who have the better chance to step into the spotlight and cash in big at the bank.
Right now we’re going with one guy who has been consistent of late: Jon Rahm at 10-1. When this guy gets it rolling, he’s laser-focused. In fact, over the last four events he’s been T3, T11, 7 and T3. Add in that he won the Zurich Classic at the end of April and his game’s definitely playoff caliber.
The only drawback here is Rahm had a two-shot lead heading into the back nine on Sunday and couldn’t close the deal with a couple of bogeys coming in. Will that motivate him this week or discourage him? It’s not a stretch to say that with Rahm, the answer could be both.
And let’s not forget No. 1-ranked Brooks Koepka, the favorite at 8-1.
Koepka has struggled of late, but when he’s on, get out of his way. Here’s an example. He was 5-under through his first seven holes on Sunday with an eagle and three birdies. All of a sudden he’s on the first page of the leaderboard. Look out.
But, just as quickly, that charge fizzled out. He bogeyed the 8th hole, a reachable par-5, and followed that with a triple bogey to close out his front nine at one-under par. The end result was a so-so T30 finish last week.
Winning majors has always been his No. 1 priority. But being on top, whether it be in a tournament, the world rankings or the FedEx Cup playoffs, has to be his goal right now as this season winds down.