Inside the FedExCup: Hideki Matsuyama is No. 1 again
HIDEKI USED TO NO. 1: Thanks to his win at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, Hideki Matsuyama is making his fourth stint of the season atop the FedExCup standings. Matsuyama spent five weeks at No. 1 after winning the WGC-HSBC Champions last October. After winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he spent another four weeks at No. 1. He briefly moved back into the top spot the week after the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard; his tie for 45th allowed him to jump past Justin Thomas, who did not play that week. And now he’s back at No. 1. The consistency that the Japanese star has shown this season is reflected in his FedExCup points ranking – he’s never dipped below No. 3 in any week. In fact, since the 11th week of the 2015-16 season, he’s never been outside the top 20 after any week. If Matsuyama ends the regular season at No. 1, he would be the fourth non-American to claim that spot entering the Playoffs. The others: Australia’s Jason Day in 2016, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy in 2014 and South Africa’s Ernie Els in 2010. In the first 10 years, Tiger Woods entered the Playoffs ranked No. 1 five times. The other Americans: Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Nick Watney in 2011. STROUD’S BIG MOVE: Chris Stroud went into the Barrucuda Championship ranked 144th in points and in serious danger of missing the Playoffs. But now he’s all but guaranteed a spot in the first two Playoffs events and is on knocking on the door of the third event. Stroud’s win in Reno moved him to 76th in points, his best position this season and the first time he’s been inside the top 125 in points since week nine. Stroud did not make the Playoffs last year, and he’s advanced to the BMW Championship just three times. With 70 players advancing to the BMW, Stroud’s path just became a lot less difficult. SCOTT NOT YET SECURE. Adam Scott said last week that he will take time off to be with his wife for their birth of their second child, and thus will not play in the first two Playoffs events. He said last week’s Bridgestone Invitational and this week’s PGA Championship are his last two events to secure enough points to earn a spot at the BMW. Scott produced a nice showing at Bridgestone, finishing tied for 13th. That moved him from 70th to 61st in the standings but still leaves him vulnerable. He’ll need a similar showing at the PGA Championship, which offers increased point values (600 points to the winner). A similar finish at Quail Hollow would likely leave him around the 700-point total. That total hasn’t been good enough in recent years to advance to the BMW, but projected totals are lower this season, so he may have a chance. THREE FOR ALL THREE: Just three players have qualified for the BMW Championship in each of the first 10 years of the FedExCup Playoffs – Charley Hoffman, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. Hoffman is guaranteed to continue that streak, currently sitting at 11th in the standings after his third-place finish at Firestone. Mickelson is 45th and should be also be set for the BMW. Watson, however, remains on the outside looking in. He gave himself a little breathing room just to make the Playoffs, moving from 117 to 111 with his tie for 17th at Firestone. But he still has lots of ground to make up. HELPING THEIR CAUSE: Richy Werenski and Greg Owen lost to Stroud in the playoff at the Barracuda, but they made big moves up the FedExCup standings. Werenski went from 154 to 122, and must only maintain his position the last two weeks to secure a spot inside the top 125 that advance to the Playoffs opener, THE NORTHERN TRUST. Owen, meanwhile, went from 162 to 136 and now has a fighting chance. Sam Saunders also had a good week, with an eighth-place finish, and is now 127th in points. Unfortunately for Werenski, Owen and Saunders, none are in the field at this week’s PGA Championship, so they could find themselves slipping back before next week’s regular-season finale, the Wyndham Championship. Meanwhile, at the Bridgestone Invitational, Zach Johnson’s runner-up finish moved him from 83 to 36 and guaranteed his spot in the BMW Championship.
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