The Northern Trust preview: FedEx Cup Playoffs begin in New Jersey

Johnson-Dustin-Getty-FTR
Dustin Johnson (Getty Images)

The 2017-18 FedEx Cup Playoffs begin this week in New Jersey with the top 125 players from the FedEx Cup standings eligible to play.

Dustin Johnson currently leads the standings by a slender margin over Justin Thomas. Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson round out the top 5.

For the foreseeable future, this will be the last time the FedEx Cup Playoffs features four tournaments, with the revamped 2018-19 schedule featuring just three events.

Some big names are absent from the field this week: Rickie Fowler due to an oblique injury that caused him pain during the PGA Championship, and Rory McIlroy, who is trying to fine-tune his game before the Ryder Cup.

Tiger Woods is in the field this week for the first time since his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship. He has not competed in the PGA’s playoffs since 2013.

Course

Ridgewood Country Club (Composite), a 7,385-yard par-71 layout, is one of the oldest golf courses in America, dating back to 1890. The course features the enticing 291-yard dogleg 12th, which is considered one of golf’s first drivable par-4s.

Birdies are often hard to come by at Ridgewood, but it should provide plenty of excitement with this strong field.

Defending champion

Johnson outdueled Jordan Spieth in a Sunday clash that required extra holes. Johnson obliterated the par-4 18th hole, continually driving it past the dogleg. Johnson went his final 29 holes without a bogey, erasing a five-shot deficit to Spieth early in the final round.

Favorites

The top five players in the standings are all threats to win this week, but Watson has been in poor form over the summer. Johnson struggled in the majors this year, but he dominated the “regular events,” again winning three.

Webb Simpson and Kevin Kisner have been consistent all season. Both have shown form at the season’s biggest events, and Simpson has moved to 16th in world after startiing the season 43rd.

Sleepers

Adam Scott rediscovered his form at the PGA Championship, finishing third, which marked his best finish at a major since 2013. He has been putting better lately, even though he’s had two different putters in his bag.

Tommy Fleetwood is desperate to win on U.S. soil, and the reigning Order of Merit winner has the talent and form to get it done this week.