5 Questions to Be Answered in the FedEx Cup Playoffs

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIAugust 22, 2012

5 Questions to Be Answered in the FedEx Cup Playoffs

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    Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, and Bill Haas are members of a very exclusive club.

    They are the only golfers to have ever won the FedEx Cup.

    Tiger is the only golfer to have won it twice.  He won the first FedEx Cup in 2007 and again in 2009.

    Vijay Singh won in 2008.  Jim Furyk won in the rain in 2010 and Bill Haas won by chipping it close from the lake last year.

    There are some very big story lines to follow this year during the four events that make up the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Can Rory McIlroy Hold off Tiger Woods and Remain No. 1 in the World?

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    As the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the FedEx Cup Rankings, Tiger and Rory will be grouped together for the first two rounds at the Barclays this week. 

    With his three PGA Tour wins in 2012, Tiger Woods is currently ranked No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings.

    Rory was ranked No. 2 in the FedEx Cup points list prior to Jason Dufner’s T-7 finish at the Wyndham Championship last week.  Dufner moved ahead of McIlroy into the No. 2 spot but announced early last week that he would not play in the Barclays.

    Rory and Tiger’s positions are exactly the opposite on the Official World Golf Rankings.  Rory moved to No. 1 in the world and Tiger dropped to No. 3 behind Luke Donald after Rory’s convincing win at the PGA Championship.   

    Golf fans will have an excellent opportunity to watch the two best players in golf right now go head to head for at least 36 holes.

    Who will come out on top?

Can Luke Donald Regain His World-Class Form?

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    Luke Donald held the No. 1 world ranking for 56 weeks even though he did not win a major title.  He has been the most consistent golfer over the past 2.5 years. 

    His play thus far in 2012 has been somewhat of a mystery, however.

    Luke did get a win at the Transitions Championship in March and has had six top-10 finishes in 13 starts on the PGA Tour this year, but his play in the majors has been less than stellar. 

    He was T-32 at the Masters and missed the cut at the U. S. Open.  He did manage a T-5 at the Open Championship but struggled throughout the week.  He was never a factor at the PGA Championship and ended up T-32.

    Much more was expected from the player that won four events worldwide and the money titles on both the PGA and the European Tours last year. 

    Luke was focused on winning a major this year.  Even though he has a win, his year has been a disappointment.

    Would winning the FedEx Cup make this a successful year for Luke?

Who Can Play Himself onto the USA Ryder Cup Team?

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    Automatic qualifying for the USA Ryder Cup team ended after the PGA Championship. 

    The top eight players that are officially on the team are: Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson.

    USA Team Captain Davis Love will make four additional picks on the Monday following the Deutsche Bank.

    Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker, and Jim Furyk are the next three names on the Ryder Cup points list and everyone would be very surprised if any of these three were not picked by Captain Love.

    That leaves only one spot remaining for the team.  Ricky Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Bo Van Pelt, Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas are the leading candidates for that one spot.

    Which of these five players can perform the best at the Barclays and the Deutsche Bank to get that last Ryder Cup pick?

Can Lee Westwood Salvage His Year?

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    Lee Westwood announced earlier this year that he would be taking up residence in the United States to better prepare for major championships.

    He accepted membership to the PGA Tour and has been playing more in the United States.

    Although he has five top-10 finishes in 11 events on the PGA Tour this year his best finish was a T-3 at the Masters.  He was T-10 at the U. S. Open, T-45 at the Open Championship and missed the cut at the PGA. 

    A sure sign that Lee is very frustrated, he fired his coach and caddy immediately after his missed cut at the PGA.  

    A win or two in the playoffs, plus winning the FedEx Cup itself, would not replace a major trophy but would reinstate Lee as a force in professional golf and might just give his confidence a boost heading into next year.

Can Tiger Woods Win a Third FedEx Cup?

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    Tiger Woods has regained his stature as the predominant player in all of golf.

    He has three wins on the PGA Tour in 2012. 

    He was never a factor in the Masters this year finishing T-40.  He played brilliant golf and led the U. S. open after 36 holes only to stumble on the weekend and ultimately finishing T-21. 

    Tiger was challenging for the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham until an untimely triple-bogey on the sixth hole on Sunday cost him the Open Championship.  Even though he struggled again on the weekend at a major, he was T-11 at the PGA Championship.

    If he keeps putting himself in position, he will eventually win more majors.

    Tiger already has two FedEx Cups in his trophy case at his mansion on Jupiter Island. 

    He leads the FedEx Cup points list heading into the first event at the Barclays.  A win in any of the four playoff events plus a couple of top-10’s will probably get him another cup plus the $10 million that goes along with it.

    The four weeks of the FedEx Cup playoffs are all about consistency and focus. 

    Who do you know that can focus on the task at hand more than Tiger Woods?