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The Barclays Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 08/23/2011
The PGA regular season is in the books and now we concentrate on the FedEx Cup playoffs. The first stop is The Barclays which is being hosted by Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey. 123 of the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings are in play this week with the top 100 advancing to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston over Labor Day weekend. That will then be decreased to the top 70 and then eventually to the top 30 for the Tour Championship.
This is the third different course to host this event in the last three years so success at past Barclays will not come into play. Plainfield is part of a four-course rotation for this event and will be the host once again in 2015. Designed by Donald Ross, it played host to the 1978 U.S. Amateur and the 1987 U.S. Women’s Open and since then has gone through extensive renovations to bring it back to the original Ross design featuring uneven fairways with false fronts, numerous bunkers and undulating greens.
The course does not set up well for bombers as it comes in as a par 71, 6,969-yard layout and it will play short as heavy rains have softened the course in the last week. It does drain well and the greens will still be firm and fast making it a priority to keep the ball in the fairway to have the best shot at hitting greens. Because of the unfamiliarity of the course, it is best to look at similar courses we have seen and the big one that comes to mind is Aronimink, which hosted the AT&T National.
Of all eligible players, only Charl Schwartzel elected not to play The Barclays but he is committed to the remaining three events of the Playoffs. Also not playing is J.B. Holmes who will be missing the rest of the season as he is having minor brain surgery. There are pros and cons for the Playoffs but the biggest draw is the field as we are getting the best players on tour to compete whereas in years past, the season was done. With $10 Million on the line, motivation won't be an issue.
Defending champion Matt Kuchar (+2,500) is without a win this season, but he still managed to finish higher in the standings than any other player without a win which shows consistency. He has eight top tens on the year but has not placed there since his T2 at the Memorial back in early June. He finished second in last year's playoffs so he should be a threat but recent play in a deterrent.
The current leader in the FedEx Cup Standings is Nick Watney (+2,000). He is a two-time winner this year as he has missed the cut only three times in 17 events. One of those wins came at Aronimink which followed a T7 there a year ago so the course suits his game. As mentioned, Plainfield is a similar setup and he comes in ranked second in total putting and third in stokes gained in putting, both of which are important here.
Steve Stricker (+1,200) once again came close to his first Major but missed once again as he finished T12 at the PGA Championship. Still, it was his 11th consecutive top 20 finish which includes two wins at the Memorial and the John Deere Classic. His game is perfect for a course like this as he is straight enough for a lot of GIR opportunities but he is also ranked first on tour in total putting and scrambling.
Charles Howell III (+4,000) has been playing excellent of late as he has four top five finishes in his last seven tournaments. He is coming off a T4 at the Wyndham Championship which made it nine straight cuts following his missed cut at THE PLAYERS. His overall stats are not great but one of his T3 finishes this season came at the AT&T National so the course setup is in his favor.
I normally do not like to back a player coming off a win but Webb Simpson (+3,000) could pull it off again. He is coming off his first victory on tour last week at the Wyndham Championship and that normally spells letdown but with this being the playoffs, he will be focused and ready once again. He has seven top 20's in his last eight events and his T8 finish at Aronimink shows he can do it again at Plainfield.
This week for a longshot we will take a look at Robert Allenby (+8,000). He isn't having the greatest of seasons but he has made the cut in 14 of 20 medal play events and he does have three top tens on the year although he is without a victory. His latest was a T6 at Aronimink which is big factor for a lot of players in my opinion this week. He has made the weekend in four straight events.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at The Barclays – All for 1 Unit
Nick Watney (+2,000)
Steve Stricker (+1,200)
Charles Howell III (+4,000)
Webb Simpson (+3,000)
Robert Allenby (+8,000)