Spieth, Day head field for The Barclays
Majors season has come and gone, but the FedExCup Playoffs are just heating up as the golf world converges at historic Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., for The Barclays, the first of four Playoffs events teeing off Thursday.
The top 125 golfers from the FedExCup standings, highlighted by reigning FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth and 2015 Barclays winner and world No. 1 Jason Day of Australia, battle to gain an early edge on the field.
A $1.53 million winner's share of the $8.5 million purse and 2,000 FedExCup points are awarded to the winner heading into next weekend's second Playoffs event, the Deutsche Bank Championship in Norton, Mass.
After the Deutsche Bank, which hosts the top 100 in the FedExCup standings, the top 70 play the BMW Championship in Carmel, Ind., before the top 30 compete in the Playoffs finale at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“It's our last chance of that season to make an exclamation point to cap off a year, to make a significant impact, and there's certainly incentive in the FedExCup and the Tour Championship itself,” world No. 3 Spieth said.
“It's a very significant event that we put up there in the top — right below a major championship. It's extremely high importance.”
Spieth claimed a four-stroke victory at last year's Tour Championship to hoist his first FedExCup at 22 years old, but Day began the Playoffs with a six-shot win over Sweden's Henrik Stenson at last year's Barclays.
Spieth, meanwhile, failed to make the cut and finished 7-over.
“The Barclays has been one where I've kind of struggled to get myself up there and have a chance to win, and to come to a major championship venue in one of the toughest venues in the United States at Bethpage, the Black Course, that's exciting,” Spieth said.
Bethpage, the site of the 2019 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup, last hosted The Barclays in 2012. Nick Watney was the winner that year, claiming a three-shot victory over Brandt Snedeker.
Stenson, the 2013 FedExCup winner, is enjoying a career year after winning The Open Championship at Royal Troon in Scotland for his first major, and representing Sweden at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
However, those successes have come at the cost of his energy.
“It's been a good summer on the golf course, and, yeah, heading into the Playoffs where we knew it was going to be a very busy year, a lot of golf,” Stenson said.
“(I) might not be fully charged but (I'm) trying to conserve energy and not do too much out there. I haven't touched a club for a week. Last time I played on a golf course, that was that Sunday (August 14) in Rio.”
Stenson won the men's silver medal, finishing two strokes behind gold medalist and world No. 9 Justin Rose of England and one shot ahead of bronze medalist Matt Kuchar, both of whom are participating in The Barclays.
“It's going to be difficult for sure,” Rose said of shifting his focus from Rio to Bethpage. “Quite clearly that's always more energy expended in terms of everybody wanting to congratulate you, but that brings good energy, too. … I'm going to try and take the positives from it, feed off it.”
Masters champion and world No. 10 Danny Willett of England is one of three eligible golfers who opted to skip The Barclays. World No. 11 Sergio Garcia of Spain and world No. 25 Shane Lowry of Ireland also won't participate.
Garcia is ranked 20th in the FedExCup standings, while Willet is 75th and Lowry is 87th.
Additionally, India's Anirban Lahiri and Germany's Alex Cejka withdrew because of injuries. The 75th-ranked Lahiri sustained a shoulder injury, while the 117th-ranked Cejka is sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Lahiri and Cejka ranked 117th and 59th in the FedExCup, respectively.