Just like that, we are back in the postseason of professional golf. Eight years into the FedEx Cup Playoff system, the jury remains out on whether it's a success. It probably depends on what your definition of success is. To those who thought the PGA Tour could take slice of the weekend pie away from football, it's obviously been a failure, but those people were never realistic to begin with. Football is king, and nothing outside of a major natural disaster or terrorist attack will supplant football in the minds of many Americans on weekends. If, however, success is based on prolonging a bit of excitement to the regular season and implanting the idea of a playoff system into the minds of golf fans, then by all means, it's been a success. Even with Tiger Woods at his prime, the odds of golf playoffs taking much of the nation's attention during football season were slim, but the FedEx Cup Playoff system was never meant to do so. It was meant to extend interest in the sport just a little bit longer than it had before. To that measure, it's worked. Not because golf's popularity is any higher than it was eight years ago, but because it brought purpose to the final weeks of the season, especially the weeks leading up to the Tour Championship. In some minds, golf will never succeed in fall, and while they might be right, they're also quick to forget how ridiculous golf used to be during fall. There's a reason it was referred to as the "silly season." Against that measure, the FedEx Cup is an unquestioned success.
This week: The Barclays - Ridgewood Country Club, Paramus, N.J.
Last Year: Adam Scott shot a final-round 66 on his way to a one-stroke victory over three players.
PLAYERS TO CONSIDER
Scott is the defending champ, but that doesn't mean much as the venue is different from last year. What is relevant, however, is that he finished with a top-10 at this event, on this course in 2010. Oh, and he failed to capture a major this year, so the FedEx Cup will serve as plenty of motivation.
It's nearly impossible to bet against McIlroy, but if you are looking for a possible out, motivation or lack thereof could be a problem this week. Coming down off the high of two majors could be tough. That said, he's so locked-in that I doubt a lack of motivation will slow him.
Kuchar is one of those players who gears up pretty well for the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and his track record on this course is solid, so this could be the start of a nice run for Kuchar. His back issues from two weeks ago should be of no concern, according to Kuchar, it was just one of those things, no chronic problems.
Haas is a former FedEx Cup champion, so he knows how to turn up his game this time of the year. He also looks to be in good form as evidence by his T2 at the Wyndham Championship last week.
The "is he healthy or not" drama is nearly over for this year, but there's one major stretch left, and if Day is feeling better, he's one of a handful of players who could walk away with the title in four weeks.
PLAYERS TO AVOID
Els had a good showing at the PGA Championship, but his game isn't built for sustained success anymore, and he'll likely struggle again this week. Add to that, a poor track record on this course, and Els might be in for a short week.
After the game he's shown the last couple seasons, it's tough to ever doubt this kid, but his play the last months has left a lot to be desired. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship and finished no better than T36 in his previous two events.
A huge win for Villegas last week, but it's the old, "stepping up in class" scenario this week. The course will be tougher, the competition is not even in the same class. Yes, it's a whole different world for Villegas this week.
Billy Hurley III
Hurley III caught lightning in a bottle for a short stretch a couple months back, but he's struggled mightily since his final-round collapse at the Greenbrier Classic. The struggles are likely to continue this week as well.
Bradley isn't having an awful year, it just seems that way because expectations were so high coming into the season. He's had his moments this season, but he's failed to take his game to the next level.
ONE AND DONE GOLFER
Last week: Tim Clark (T24) - $41,008; Season - $6,360,000
This week: Matt Kuchar - Bad back be damned. Actually, his back just tightened up at the wrong time, so there's really nothing to worry about ... unless it happens again.
Group A: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker
Group B: Bill Haas, Jason Day, Jim Furyk, Justin Rose
Group C: Sergio Garcia, Nick Watney
Last week: Rory McIlroy (5); Streak - 4
This week: Luke Donald - I'm not expecting the former No. 1 player in the world to regain his old form anytime soon, but his game has improved enough the last few weeks to trust him in this spot.