After a Monday finish to the Wyndham with Sergio Garcia taking his first PGA Tour win in four years, the tour starts its playoffs with a visit to Bethpage Black for this year’s version of the Barclays. It’s supposed to be open-like course conditions and the field gives it that feel as well with most of the big names ready to tee it up as they begin to chase the FedEx cup for the four tournaments left in this year’s version of fantasy golf.
Last week, my entry had one of its best weeks of the year as I put up 210 points but could only muster a t2 as the Chiefs had 214 to take the week. It’s my third top three of the summer and pulls me up to 7th in our ultra-competitive 18-player group. The leader for the summer is Above Par with Squatney Leather leading in overall points for the year.
This week is a tough one to pick since there are many good options and little course history since the Barclays rotates venues. Here’s the picks I like the most though heading into what shapes up to be a great tournament:
Keegan Bradley – Bradley is heating up at the right time and has the game that matches up nicely with the Black course at Bethpage State Park. Bradley is coming off consecutive top threes at the PGA and the Bridgestone and is ready to take on the FedEx Cup playoffs coming in with six consecutive made cuts and five top ten finishes on the year.
Steve Stricker – If you have Stricker starts to use, it’s time to get him in your lineup. I have five left so he’ll be rostered throughout the playoffs on my team since he has incredible playoff success and comes in with seven top tens in his last 15 starts including a t2 at the Bridgestone and a t7 at the PGA. Stricker is a great pick to win as he did in 2007 at Westchester Country Club.
Rory McIlroy-McIlroy cruised at the PGA Championship winning by a record eight strokes. If you’ve been able to conserve Rory starts, this is the time to use them. I’ve got four left so I’ll roster him for the rest of the year barring collapse. He was dominant at the beginning of the year but struggled in the middle. Obviously, he’s rediscovered his game and is atop the World Golf Rankings and ready for difficult conditions like Bethpage is expected to bring.
Ian Poulter- Poulter is my sleeper pick of the week. He finished t3 at the PGA Championship two weeks ago and t9 at the British Open. When you add in his 7th at the Masters he has top tens in three of the four majors. Poulter could easily breakthrough and get his first win of the season here at Bethpage Black if the conditions are as Major-like as predicted.
Justin Rose- Rose has five top tens in eight tournaments including a t3 at the PGA and a t5 at the Bridgestone. He won the WGC Cadillac in March of this year and will look for his second tour win this week in New York.
Tim Clark- After getting me a runner-up bonus last week, I’ll stay with Clark for another week as he continues to build late-season momentum. He’s been in the top 15 his last three tournaments coming into the Barclays.
Vijah Singh- Singh has past playoff success and has made six consecutive cuts since the US Open including top tens at the British Open and the RBC Canadian Open. He was the closest to Rory at the PGA before crumbling on the final day and finishing t36. Singh has won this event four times before at two different courses in 2006 and 2008 and when it was the Buick Classic in 1995 and 1993.
Graeme McDowell- McDowell is another big name that always is around the top of the leaderboard when the course is at its most difficult. McDowell has been t12 or better in every Major this year and has been in the top 25 in his last six worldwide tournaments. I would start him from round one, but I only have three starts left, so I’ll wait to see how the first couple rounds go and see how it goes.