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The FedEx Cup Playoffs start this week with the St Jude Championship, and while the top 125 players in the eligibility list prepare for action, there are some big names who will be forced to watch from the sidelines after missing out.
In what is proving a turbulent year in the golfing world, it could be argued it’s never been so easy to make it into the top 125, given the PGA Tour has changed from taking the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings - which includes players who have defected to the LIV Golf Series - and instead is taking the top 125 from a list created in June, the Fedex eligibility points list, which has the LIV players removed.
While last week’s legal action taken by 11 LIV Golfers does include a request for a temporary restraining order that would allow three players - Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford - to take up the spots they would have been given if the original points list was used, the field is set for the FedEx St Jude Championship, with any successful legal challenge likely to see players added to an expanded field, as happened at the Scottish Open.
Even without the LIV Golf players, there are still a number of big names who didn’t quite make it into the top 125 and therefore won’t be involved, with Rickie Fowler just scraping in, taking the 125th and final spot.
With a 47th-place finish on the eligibility list, Tommy Fleetwood would normally be heading for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but he is taking time away from the game following the death of his mother. The 31-year-old from Southport has opted to spend time with his family, and looks to have confirmed his absence, tweeting “Well done and good luck to everyone that made the FedEx Playoffs. I’m taking time out to be at home with my family but look forward to returning to @PGATOUR @DPWorldTour soon.” Fleetwood has not played since his tied-4th place finish at the Open Championship.
While the rest of the golfing world was heralding the birth of a superstar as 20-year-old Joohyung Kim won the Wyndham Championship by five shots despite starting the tournament with a quadruple bogey, Matt Wallace coud be forgiven for cursing him. The Englishman was heading to the Playoffs in 125th position until Kim secured his place, knocking him down a spot to finish on the pure bubble of the qualification positions.
Another Englishman to miss out is Danny Willett, who finished in 130th position. With his Tour exemption from winning the 2016 Masters now expired, Willett needed to rediscover some of the form that saw him claim that famous Green Jacket six years ago to both secure his place on Tour next year and make the playoffs. He posted his best finish of the PGA Tour season recently, T7th at the 3M Open, but it wasn’t enough to get over the hump and he will not be in action in Memphis.
Cameron Champ has won a PGA Tour event in each of the past three seasons, but it hasn’t been such plain sailing this time around, and just two top-10s with no victories has seen him slump to 133rd and out of the FedEx Playoffs. His best result was a T6th at the Mexico Open, and having earned under $1million this season, he will miss out.
Harry Higgs has managed only one top-10 on the PGA Tour this season and has paid the price, finishing 136th to miss out on the Playoffs. The 30-year-old is still awaiting his first PGA Tour victory, and his patchy form this season has seen him finish outside the top 125.
Former Open champion Francesco Molinari finished 137th on the FedEx eligibility list and is another who misses out on the Playoffs. The Italian has won twice on the PGA Tour as well as that Open win at Carnoustie in 2018, but it’s been a down year for the 39-year-old, with only one top-10 finish, tying for 6th place in the AmEx.
ERIK VAN ROOYEN
It’s been a disappointing season for Erik van Rooyen after such a breakthrough last year, when he won his first PGA Tour title at the Barracuda Championship and qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs in his first season on Tour, advancing to the Tour Championship and ending the season No.22 in the FedExCup standings. The former University of Minnesota standout has had only one top-10 finish this season, and that was T10th at the RBC Heritage.
US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson has not won a tournament since the 2015 Open Championship, and his 140th place is not enough to punch his ticket to the FedEx Playoffs. He has won nearly $48million on the PGA Tour, and that gives him the option of using a career money exemption to secure his Tour card, something he is expected to do, but his Playoff hopes have gone.
Like his American counterpart, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain, Luke Donald, has failed to make the FedEx top 125, finishing 159th on the eligibility list. The former World No.1 has struggled with injuries, but having used two career money exemptions in the past, not only is Donald missing the Playoffs, he has now lost his full Tour card and will have to fight for one if he is planning on playing on in the US next season.
Brandt Snedeker has made the Playoffs every year since they began but misses out for the first time after his 171st-place finish on the eligibility list. The nine-time PGA Tour winner didn’t manage a single top-10 this season, with his best result a T14th finish at the AmEx. Having won over $40million in his career to date, the 41-year-old will have no problem getting a career money exemption to carry on playing, but he won’t be at the Playoffs this season for the first time.
Jeff graduated from Leeds University in Business Studies and Media in 1996 and did a post grad in journalism at Sheffield College in 1997. His first jobs were on Slam Dunk (basketball) and Football Monthly magazines, and he's worked for the Sunday Times, Press Association and ESPN. He has faced golfing greats Sam Torrance and Sergio Garcia, but on the poker felt rather than the golf course. Jeff's favourite course played is Sandy Lane in Barbados, which went far better than when he played Matfen Hall in Northumberland, where he crashed the buggy on the way to the 1st tee!
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