The Northern Trust kicks off FedExCup Playoffs

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13: Hideki Matsuyama putts on the 10th hole during the final round of the PGA Championship on August 13, 2017 at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The FedExCup race is down to 125 players and four events, with the hunt for the title of champion and the $10 million bonus payout on the line between now and Sept. 24.

First up in the quartet of playoff tournaments is the event that’s been rebranded as The Northern Trust, in which 120 players will tee off on Thursday at Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury, N.Y.

The total purse for The Northern Trust is $8.75 million, with $1.575 million and 2,000 FedExCup points going to the winner. The tournament is at the par-70, 7,346-yard course designed by Joe Finger and opened in 1971.

The Northern Trust (which was formerly called The Barclays) is the opening event of the FedExCup Playoffs for the 11th consecutive season, as it has been since the playoffs were introduced in 2007.

The field features all but five players who were ranked in the top 125 in the FedExCup standings after the Wyndham Championship. No. 22 Sergio Garcia of Spain and No. 66 Adam Scott of Australia chose not to play in this tournament (Scott abstained due to the birth of his child) while No. 64 Brandt Snedeker, No. 85 Scott Piercy and No. 115 Dominic Bozzelli are not in the field due to injury.

Atop the standings heading into the playoffs is Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who has recorded three victories and three runner-up finishes in 18 starts this season. His wins included two World Golf Championships titles (HSBC Champions, Bridgestone Invitational) and a playoff victory over Webb Simpson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“It has been a really good season — a great season for me,” Matsuyama said. “But it really just begins now because unless I play well in the next four events, I’m not going to be the FedExCup champion. This is the time that all of us really need to up our games because you need to win one of those tournaments to even have a chance.

“I want to be in the top five going into the Tour Championship. That’s my goal. But, the best way to reach my goals is just to play well. I found that if I play well, everything will take care of itself, and I won’t have to check the standings too much.”

Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler are ranked Nos. 2-5, respectively, entering the playoffs. Nos. 6-10 prior to The Northern Trust are Jon Rahm of Spain, Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner and Brian Harman.

Perhaps the hottest golfer heading into the playoffs is Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who rolled to victory last week at the Wyndham Championship to finish 23rd in the standings.

“It seems that everything came together at a perfect time,” Stenson said of his win last week. “Get that win, and some momentum and confidence heading into the playoffs, and you know, we’ll see if we can make a run at this, as well.

“I wouldn’t say I played 100 percent in every area last week but obviously mentally and my putting and approach game was excellent, and it was good enough to get to 22-under. So I’m excited about the next couple of weeks.”

The top 100 players on the FedExCup points list following The Northern Trust qualify for the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston Sept. 1-4. Then the top 70 players on the points list after the Dell Technologies Championship advance to the BMW Championship from Sept. 14-17. The top 30 players following the BMW Championship will qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta from Sept 21-24.

Prior to the Tour Championship, a points reset will take place, giving all players in the field a mathematical opportunity to win the FedExCup title. The top five players control their own destiny and would claim the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.

Twelve rookies finished in the top 125 and advanced to the FedExCup playoffs, the most ever to qualify for the PGA Tour’s postseason.

Glen Oaks Club will host the event for the first time. The tournament course for The Northern Trust is a composite layout of Glen Oaks Club’s 27 holes, featuring a front nine composed of a mix of the White and Red nines and a back nine featuring the Blue nine in order.

Five other courses have hosted The Northern Trust since it became a FedExCup Playoffs event: Westchester CC in 2007, Ridgewood CC in 2008, 2010 and 2014, Liberty National GC in 2009 and 2013, Plainfield CC in 2010 and 2015, and Bethpage Black in 2012 and 2016.