MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Much of the professional male golfer’s attention was focused on a California courtroom on Tuesday, where a a federal judge ruled that it was fine for the PGA Tour to ban three players who had left their opponent’s LIV Golf from competing in the FedEx Cup Qualifiers.
Starting Thursday, eyes will return to the course, where the world’s No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler and others will begin their quest to win the FedEx Trophy in the FedEx St. Jude at TPC Southwind, first leg of the knockout round.
“Going into the FedEx Cup Playoffs as #1, nothing really changed for me,” Scheffler said. “I’m just trying to get on the pitch here, get off to a good start and put myself in a position to win this tournament. Obviously really good pitch, all the best players in the world. are all here, and I’m just looking forward to this week’s challenge.”
Well, not all of the best players in the world are here – and it’s still unclear how many of the best will still perform on the PGA Tour after the knockouts.
Open Championship Winner Cameron Smith, the world No. 2 golfer, is the latest top player to be affiliated with Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The Telegraph of London reported on Tuesday that Smith had agreed to a deal worth more than $100 million to enter the new circuit, and Smith did not do much to quash reported in a press conference.
While Tuesday’s courtroom win was huge for the PGA Tour, losing a player of Smith’s caliber, or worse, for him to lift the FedEx Cup at East Lake in Atlanta in three weeks and then that defected to LIV Golf, would be difficult to swallow.
Here’s what to watch in the FedEx Cup Qualifiers:
The LIVs are not here
U.S. District Court Beth Labson Freeman’s ruling that the PGA Tour can ban Taylor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford from the knockout round while they were suspended is substantial. It was a win for the PGA Tour in what could be the first of many battles between the duels.
Elliot Peters, a lawyer for the PGA Tour, argued during the hearing that letting the LIV players come out on the field, wearing LIV caps and jerseys and talking about the new circuit during press conferences, would be a “background” for their opponents.
“The reality is the competition is fierce,” Peters said.
In a memo sent to PGA Tour players, commissioner Jay Monahan wrote, “With [Tuesday’s] news, our players, fans and partners can now focus on what really matters over the next three weeks: the best players in the world competing in the FedEx Cup Qualifiers, ended a very exciting season by being crowned the FedEx Cup champion at the League Championship. “
With those three players, the field for FedEx St. Jude Championship has 121 players. Daniel Berger (backside), Lanto Griffin (backside), Tommy Fleetwood (individual and Nate Lashley (leg) has withdrawn from the tournament and will not be replaced.
How the knockouts work
The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup scoring rankings qualify for the first playoff event, the FedEx St. Jude this week. The course will be cut to rank 65 and end after 36 holes. The top 70 on the scoresheet after the final round at TPC Southwind will advance to the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which will take place next week at the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware.
Players are competing for essentially four times more points than they did in the official season events of the PGA Tour (players get 600 points for winning The Players and four major tournaments and 550 points). for tournament and WGC events). So the winning player FedEx St. The Jude Championship will earn 2,000 points, giving players far away on the leaderboard a chance to advance.
The BMW Championship is a no-limits event, and the top 30 in that post-tournament ranking will advance to the Unlimited Tour Championship, scheduled for August 25-28 in East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
How important is a player’s position in the scoreboard?
It could mean everything in one player’s quest for the FedEx Cup and the $18 million prize money that comes with winning it. For the fourth season in a row, the Tour Championship will use a parity-based scoring system. The player who is at the top of the points chart will start the Tour Championship 10 lower, before he makes a tee shot. The second player starts with 8 under, third is 7 under, fourth is 6 under and fifth is under 5.
Players ranked 6th to 10th on the leaderboard will start at 4 under, 11 to 15 with 3 under and 16 to 20 with 2 under. People between 21 and 25 will start at 1 under and from 26 to 30 at even.
In the first season of the “start stroke” format in 2019, Rory McIlroy was able to recover from a five-stroke deficit to win the FedEx Cup. But Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay was the winner for the next two seasons after starting the Tour Championship as a leader.
What about the President’s Cup?
One of the behind-the-scenes of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, at least the biggest non-LIV Golf tournament, will be the Presidents Cup, scheduled for September 20-25 at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The top six players in the Presidents Cup scoring ranking after the BMW Championship will automatically qualify for the US team. Scheffler, Cantlay, Sam Burns, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau currently in the top six.
Team USA captain Davis Love III will make six captain choices after the League Championship.
Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Will Zalatoris, Billy Horschel and rookies Cameron Young broke through the top 12 and are within an amazing gap of cracking the top six with good performances in the knockout stages.
Captain of the international team Trevor Immelmanof the job is a little more difficult. His team will include international players from countries outside of Europe and two of the best players that fit that criteria – South Africa Louis Oosthuizen and of Mexico Abraham Ancer – defected to LIV Golf.
The top eight players in the Presidents Cup standings will feature on the International Team, and that list now includes Cameron Smith, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Joaquin Niemann, Joohyung Kim, Corey Conners, Mito Pereira and Adam Scott.
Team USA has won eight in a row and nine of the previous 10 Presidents Cups (the teams drew in 2003). The International team’s only win in 13 matches was in Melbourne, Australia, in 1998. Under the leadership of the captain Tiger WoodsTeam USA won 16-14 at the last Presidents Cup in Australia in 2019.
Will Scheffler hold onto the No. 1 spot?
Scheffler has topped the FedEx Cup points chart and is #1 in the Official World Golf Ranking since his epic hot bout in the spring, when he won four times in six appearances. development, culminating in his first major championship win at the Masters. .
Scheffler hasn’t won since, but he did come second at the Charles Schwab Challenge and second at the US Open. He advanced to the knockout stages with 1,221 points ahead of Smith, who is perhaps his biggest challenger for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
Scheffler is definitely the preferred target in the knockout stages. He earned a one-season record $13.2 million in prize money and $4 million in prize money for finishing first in the Comcast Business Tour Top 10 and $1 million for winning the Aon Rewards Challenge. Risk.
“You know, it feels like I’ve been leading for a while,” Scheffler said. “I’ve got a lead and I can add 1,200 points or something like that, and I think now a win for some of those guys will get them over me if I don’t play well in the game. But I’m still in a pretty strong lead even though the points have been raised in the knockouts, so if I keep golfing well, I should lead at East Lake, that’s definitely a winner. good mind to get.”
Can Finau continue to win?
In a strange way, Finau is the defending champion FedEx St. Jude Championship, although he has never competed in the event. Last season, Finau won the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs at The Northern Trust at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey, and that history followed him to TPC Southwind.
The Northern Trust ended Finau’s five-plus-year drought without a win, and it lifted him to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup points rankings for the first time in his career. He finished 11th after the 2021 Tour championship.
He entered this year’s knockouts in seventh, the highest of his career, and he’s on straight wins, at the 3M Open and the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“I would love to be in the top 10 for the FedEx Cup,” says Finau. “It’s a position I’ve never been in. Honestly, you probably want to be Scottie Scheffler right now. You’re in control of the entire FedEx Cup. If he wins a playoff, he’s in charge. controlling the FedEx Cup, he’s going to get his hands on it, relatively speaking. That’s probably going to be the ideal position, but the way that incredible score is set up these days, I think if you’re in the top. 5, top 10, you will have a great chance to win the FedEx Cup.”
Most of the PGA Tour’s biggest names are poised to advance to the Tour Championship. But some familiar players have work to do at TPC Southwind this week to advance to the BMW Championship.
Matt Kuchar (No. 54), Harold Varner III (58th place) and Marc Leishman (62nd place) just above the drop of the top 70, while Gary Woodland (No. 73), Adam Scott (No. 77), Joel Dahmen (No. 80), Justin Rose (No. 94), Jason’s Day (No. 113) and Rickie Fowler (No. 125) will have to play well to get ahead. Speaking of Fowler, he has Cobra rep Ben Schomin in his pocket this week and is no longer working with caddy Joe Skovron.