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Controversies and Champions: FedEx Cup Playoff Preview and U.S. Amateur Review

FedEx Cup Playoffs

It was a quietly interesting weekend for golf this past week. The last regular season PGA Tour tournament was played, leading up to the FedEx Cup Playoff. While the Wyndham Championship was taking place, the world’s best amateurs competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship. The tournament’s a huge stepping stone for future pros, with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods all having won the event. So here is a look at the past week of golf action and on to the future, where the FedEx Cup Champion will be crowned.

Wyndham Championship Review

Jim Herman is one of the lesser-known players on the tour. In 2019 and 2020, he has a total of 23 missed cuts and only two top-10 finishes. Of course, both of those top-10s were wins. As recently as July of last year, Herman was outside of the top-1000 in the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR). A win in the Barbasol Championship saw him jump nearly a thousand places in the rankings. He had fallen back a bit after the PGA Championship, to 318th, until his win this weekend in Greensboro.

FedEx Cup Playoff
Jim Herman’s third win couldn’t have come at a better time, qualifying him for the FedEx Cup Playoff (via Golf Channel and Getty)

A final round -7 (63) saw Herman win his third career PGA Tour tournament at -21. This was helped by a career-best -9 (61) on Saturday. He outlasted Billy Horschel, who shot a -5 (65) en route to a one-back, second-place finish. Horschel had a chance to tie on the 72nd hole of the tournament, but his eight-foot birdie putt just missed left. Four men, including former Wyndham winner Webb Simpson, finished tied for third at -18.

In addition to the jump in the OWGR, Herman also saw a huge jump in the FedEx Cup standings. Going into the week, he was in 192nd place, well outside the top-125 finish needed to qualify for the playoff. This win saw him jump all the way to 54th, giving him a spot in this week’s Northern Trust Open.

FedEx Cup Playoff Rules

The rules are complicated, especially because nobody really cares about the playoff. Sure the $15 million prize money for winning is nice, but if golfers were asked if they would rather win it five times or the Masters once, most would likely say the Masters.

So the first leg of the playoff, the Northern Trust Open, starts with 125 golfers. FedEx Cup points don’t reset, but the values are tripled for each playoff event. The 125 becomes 70 for the next week’s BMW Championship and then 70 becomes 30 for the Tour Championship. Not too bad so far, but the Tour Championship is when it gets a bit out there.

For a while, the winner of the Tour Championship didn’t win the FedEx Cup. Tiger Woods won the tournament in 2018. Not many remember who won the FedEx Cup (it was Justin Rose). The Tour wanted to avoid this, so they gave a handicap based on FedEx Cup points. Basically, the points leader starts off at -10, with the strokes given staggered until 26th-30th, who start at even par. For a more comprehensive rundown, the PGA Tour’s is here and a good FAQ from Golf Digest is here.

Northern Trust Open and FedEx Cup Playoff Preview

The FedEx Cup Playoff starts at TPC Boston for the Northern Trust Open. The tournament had always been held in New York or its New Jersey suburbs, but this year it heads to New England. Last year, Patrick Reed won the event for the second time at Liberty National in Jersey City. This year, the winner will be hoping the tournament will lead to later success in the playoff and the $15 million prize that comes with the FedEx Cup.

The big news heading into the tournament is Brooks Koepka’s withdrawal, citing lingering injuries as the reason. He’s notorious for playing better in more important tournaments, and while the FedEx Cup is nowhere near the importance of the majors, it’s still one of the most important times of the season, so most guys will be happy to miss him.

Justin Thomas is the current leader in the FedEx Cup standings, with Collin Morikawa behind him. Rory McIlroy was last year’s winner, jumping from the fourth spot going into the Players. He had to make up four strokes in the final tournament.

FedEx Cup Playoff
Rory quest for a third FedEx Cup starts at TPC Boston this week (via Getty Images)

Another name to watch is Bryson DeChambeau, whose antics have been covered extensively on this site in the last few weeks. While he has been playing some great golf, including his best-ever finish at a major two weeks ago, even if he struggles, he’ll be entertaining.

U.S. Amateur Review

Georgia Tech standout Tyler Strafaci won the United States Amateur Championship this past weekend. After losing the 34th and 35th holes to runner-up Charles (Ollie) Osborne, Strafaci hit an absurd 3-iron through fog to reach the 18th green at Bandon Dunes GC in two shots. Minutes later, he was the American amateur champion.

This championship meant a lot to his family, as Strafaci’s grandfather was also an outstanding amateur golfer some 85 years ago. While he never won the U.S. Amateur, he did win the U.S. Amateur Public Links. According to Strafaci via Golf Digest, one of the elder Strafaci’s biggest regrets is not making the U.S.’s Walker Cup team. With his win in the U.S. Amateur, Tyler Strafaci gets to live out his grandfather’s dream. In addition to this, Strafaci will get exemptions to compete in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship next year.

Quick Hits

Tyler Strafaci’s home course is Grande Oaks GC in Florida, best known for being the course Caddyshack was filmed on.

Tiger Woods will be playing in Boston this week after a week off. He spent one of his days off caddying for his son, Charlie, in a youth tournament. Charlie shot a -3 (33) in the nine-hole tournament, winning by five strokes.

During the round of 16 of the U.S. Amateur, a local caddy cost Segundo Oliva Pinto his match against Strafaci by touching the sand in a bunker on the 18th hole. As every somewhat-serious golfer knows, that’s a big no-no and some penalty strokes. While this would be the case in stroke play, in match-play the result is loss of the hole. While Strafaci likely would have won the hole regardless, it had to be tough for Pinto to lose the match that way.


Make sure to check out our PGA page for more updates!

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Underdogs and Dominance: Women's Open and Northern Trust Review August 26, 2020 at 9:51 am

[…] Jim Herman winning the Wyndham Championship was surprising, it wasn’t unprecedented. He had won a PGA Tour event as recently as last year. […]

Tour Championship Preview: The $15 Million FedEx Cup Finale September 1, 2020 at 8:53 am

[…] things get kind of confusing. As explained in the TGH FedEx Cup preview, the FedEx Cup point leader starts off at -10, with the strokes given staggered until 26th-30th […]


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