For all the talk of volatility at the Wyndham Championship, with the Golf Channel and CBS driving it into our heads seemingly after every shot Ė ďHeís now in the top 125! Oh, no, heís just fallen out of the top 125!Ē Ė not a whole heck of a lot happens.
When all the dust settled on the PGA Tourís final 2015-16 regular-season tournament on Sunday, a whopping two golfers cleared that magical threshold in the FedEx Cup point standings to qualify for the playoffs. Kyle Stanley moved from 127th to 116th in the standings and Shawn Stefani went from 133rd to 123rd. Which surely is big news in the Stanley and Stefani households.
The Golf Channel convinces everyone to stay glued to the tube like we do when the NCAA announces the final few schools that will get bludgeoned out of the basketball tournament. Call it August Absurdity. (No? Doesnít work? Oh well, carry on.)
In reality, two is the average per year. In the previous five years, a total of 10 golfers Ė thatís it Ė climbed into the top 125 at the Wyndham: three in 2011, one in 2012, none(!) in 2013 and one in 2014 before a whopping five last year. And the interesting about last year was, it was the one time no one was really paying attention to the top 125. Thatís because Tiger Woods was in the field. Yes, he also was trying to get into the top 125 (and didnít), but his mere presence rendered all the other golfers to backup-singer status.
At this point weíd like to offer our apologies to Matt Jones and Whee Kim for not mentioning you sooner. (This paragraph also is the last time we will be mentioning them this year.) They are the two guys who fell out of the top 125 at the very last minute. To play for 10 months and miss by what amounts to a half a stroke is soul crushing. But itís also reality at the highest levels of sport. Just look at the Olympics, where thousandths of a second determine greatness and afterthought-ness. Not to say that the developments were crueler for Kim, but he had just last week brilliantly moved from 154th to 125th with his best showing of the season, T3 at the John Deere. No matter. Itís off to the Web.com Tour Finals if Jones and Kim want to keep their cards.
Thereís also this caveat: Golfers who missed the playoffs but retained their cards by finishing in the top 125 on the money list. Ken Duke (117th), Steve Marino (118th), Bud Cauley (119th) Retief Goosen (120th), Chad Collins (124th) and Morgan Hoffmann (125th). Missing the playoffs surely is a bummer for them, but keeping their jobs is more important.
One other thing we need to get off our chests: When Si Woo Kim, who would go on to win the Wyndham, flirted with a 59 on Friday, Twitter got all excited. Like, really excited. Same thing for Lucas Glover later in the day. But didnít Jim Furykís 58 last week forever render all future 59s moot? Are we still going to get excited about 59s like we did before? Of course, 59 is still an amazing score, but where else in sports do we get all worked up when someone nears a former record? We canít think of one. If you can, please let us know.
Si Woo Kim
Kim won the Wyndham, and it was quite the runaway, by five strokes over Luke Donald. Talk about a career-changer. Sure, Kim was a nice enough golfer, around 40th in the point standings coming in, so he already had secured his playing privileges for next season. But the win moved him to 15th in points, virtually ensuring a berth in the Tour Championship, plus the Masters, plus other big events, plus a two-year exemption. At 21, heís the youngest winner on tour this year and, this may be the breakthrough we see in golfers from time to time. This was just Kimís 38th PGA Tour event. He now becomes a much more important consideration in your fantasy plans. Maybe not this year, because it will be a while before he comes down off Cloud 9, but certainly next year.
Hi, remember me? Former No. 1 golfer in the world? Then effectively reduced to second-tier status because I can drive the ball ONLY 280ish yards and not 310? Donald still has his moments on courses where distance doesnít rule, and he showed at the Wyndham how precise he still can be. The Englishman is fourth on tour in scrambling, sixth in strokes gained-around the green and 11th in strokes gained-approach the green. Heís always a joy to watch, and itís a shame it doesnít happen more often. (To be fair, his putting is also holding him back, not just his distance). Donald moved to 48th in points and 64th in the world, his top OWGR position in almost a year. Weíll see Donald in at least three of the four playoff events, but he could have a hard time this week in the Barclays at brutish Bethpage Black.
Matsuyama had been experiencing quite a quiet summer for someone in the top-20 in the OWGR. But he tied for third at the Wyndham with Brandt Snedeker. He also was T4 in his prior start at the PGA Championship, his best-ever finish in a major, so heís pretty much put himself back in the top-tier conversation. This was just Matsuyamaís sixth start since the Players Championship in May, no doubt infuriating his owners. And there really hasnít been an explanation for that.
Stegmaier tied for fifth to move from 119th in points to 101st. While he pretty much was ensured of a playoff berth, a final-round 64 gave him a real shot at getting into the top-100 after next week to reach the second postseason event, the Deutsche Bank. Stegmaier is one of seven rookies (out of 17) to make the playoffs, joining Smylie Kaufman, Emiliano Grillo, Patton Kizzire, Harold Varner III, Byeong-Hun An and Michael Kim.
McDowell was in the group of T5 finishers, moving him to 27th in the point standings. That surprised us. Heís been quite the all-or-nothing guy this season, with eight missed cuts in 18 starts. But in his 10 cashes, heís got five top-10s, including a win at the OHL Classic back in November. McDowell isnít the player he was just a few years back, but, like Donald, can rise on shorter courses and in, candidly, tournaments without the best fields. He still has value; you just have to pick your spots with him.
Kisner had a fantastic early part of the season and it will carry him all the way to East Lake. But he sure had a dry spell of many months. Heís showing signs of rebounding, and at just the right time. Kisner has gone T26 (Canadian Open), T18 (PGA) and now T10 at the Wyndham in his past three starts, his best stretch since January. And he shot a final-round 63 on Sunday to soar up the leaderboard. Many of us have been let down by Kisner during the spring and summer, but maybe heís simply more of an autumn guy? He surely played well last fall.
Cauley tied for 10th, following up a T8 at the Deere, but the late run wasnít enough to carry him into the playoffs. He finished 135th. But he definitely showed glimmers in his return from an injury that cost him all of last season, with five top-10s in 14 starts. And that was enough to leave him 120th on the money list, which allows him to keep his card.
Fowler decided to play the Wyndham to impress Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III. He didnít. Fowler tied for 22nd, a nice enough week for most, but not for the No. 8 golfer in the world. (Yes, Fowler has fallen from fourth earlier in the year to eighth now.) Itís hard to believe a top-10 golfer isnít an automatic qualifier for the Ryder Cup, and has to show heís worthy, but thatís what a crappy season will do to you. Still, itís hard to envision leaving Fowler off the squad. You may think Fowler will turn it around in the playoffs, but we donít.
The Cink family has endured a rough summer, with the golferís wife fighting through breast cancer. Cink has cut down on his schedule and had had only two top-25s in 18 starts entering the Wyndham, his playing privileges for next season in doubt. But Cink rallied with his best showing of the season, a tie for 14th. He shot 64 on Sunday, including a long birdie on the final hole that moved him into the top-150 in points. Not enough to get into the playoffs, but golfers from No. 126 to 150 have conditional PGA Tour status, far better from being outside the top-150. Cink can still go to the Web.com Tour finals to try to secure his full card for next season, but no word on whether he will devote four weeks of time for that.
Toms was on shaky ground, sitting at 12st in the point standings entering the Wyndham. And then with so much on the line, he withdrew. His family was hit hard by the flooding in his native Louisiana, and family comes first. So he spent the week helping his sister in Baton Rouge, hoping to catch a break at the Wyndham. He did. Toms dropped in the standings, but only to 124th, so he will play in the Barclays this week and keep his card for next season.