The Barclays: Bethpage State Park – Black Course, Long Island, NY
The FedEx Cup Playoffs kick of at the famed Bethpage Black in Long Island, a course which has hosted multiple US Open’s.
The top 125 players will contest the first off four playoff events with the top 100 qualifying for the Deutsche Bank Championship the following week. The field will then be cut to 70 for the BMW Championship, a tournament which will have no cut. The top 30 will then shift to Atlanta for the Tour Championship and a slice of the $35 million in bonus prize money with the winner taking home a very cool $10 million!
There is always high levels of anticipation for the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs but there is something special about this year. For starters they are playing at Bethpage Black, a course that can make even the pro’s look like amateurs. In addition it has been one of the most unpredictable seasons ever with four first time major winners.
As a result the Playoffs are perfectly poised and with quadruple points on offer any one of the 125 players are more than capable of making a charge for top spot.
The unpredictability will continue this week as the players tackle all 7,468 yards of the par 71 course. The public course has hosted the US Open on two occasions. Tiger Woods was the only player to finish under par when he won here in 2002 while Lucas Glover won his maiden major at Bethpage in 2009 with a score of -4. The last PGA Tour event to be played here was The Barclays in 2012 where Nick Watney finished in front of a host of names including Snedeker, Garcia and Dustin Johnson.
It all begins on the first tee where the sign reads “WARNING – The Black Course Is An Extremely Difficult Course Which We Recommend Only For Highly Skilled Golfers.” Don’t for a second think that this doesn’t apply to the men playing this week. The course plays ultra long and pins are very hard to access with the greens being both elevated and protected by bunkers.
The fairways are made even tighter with several holes lined with bunkers on both sides. As a result we will see most players lay up in order to avoid the sand but that means longer irons in. Any miscued shots will be punished and players will be scrambling for par.
Jason Day is the defending Barclays Champion, leads the Payoffs race and is coming off a runner up finish at the PGA Championship making him the deserved favourite. At single figure odds on one of the toughest courses you will see and against a field that includes the world’s best The Wolf says to stay clear.
Of the favourties The Wolf has to lean towards Henrik Stenson. The Swede has reignited his career by winning The Open Championship and has since backed it up with a 7th at the PGA and a silver medal in Rio. Length is never a problem for Henrik and he can hit is 3 wood as far as most hit their driver.
If there’s one man you should be on this week it is Brandt Snedeker! He won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year and is coming off top 5 finishes at the Canadian Open and Wydnham Championship. What has The Wolf even more excited is his ability to play this course. He posted a runner up finish here behind Watney in the 2012 US Open where he shot under par in all four rounds. He is one of if the the best scramblers on the tour which will keep him in good stead throughout the weekend.
Another man who can make some noise at odds is Ryan Moore. The American won the John Deer Classic just a few weeks back where he shot 65 in the opening three rounds. He has two top 25’s at Bethpage including a top 10 and has the game that can tackle on of the toughest tracks.
Those looking for huge odds can have a little something on Graham Delaet. The Canadian has a habit of shooting super low in the 4th and final round. He shot a 63 to finish 8th at the Barbasol a month back not to mention his 65 in the final round of The Barclays at this very course – one of the course record at the time.