Who's Hot and Who's Not Ahead of the 2013 FedEx Cup

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2013

Who's Hot and Who's Not Ahead of the 2013 FedEx Cup

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    The FedEx Cup Playoffs have become one of the crowning events on the PGA Tour.

    While the Tour Championship in September will never eclipse any of the majors, the FedEx Cup playoffs have grown in stature every year since the event started in 2007.

    Players win FedEx Cup points in all PGA Tour events from January through mid-August, and the top 125 point-getters are eligible to compete in the The Barclays, the first FedEx Cup playoff event.

    Two additional playoff events are held before the Tour Championship crowns the FedEx Cup champion. Here's a look at who's hot and who's not with the playoffs scheduled to start Aug. 22

Hot: Tiger Woods

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    Many of Tiger Woods' critics love to point at his continued slump in the major tournaments and say he is no longer the golfer he was in his prime.

    While Tiger is endlessly frustrated because he has not brought home a major since winning the 2008 U.S. Open, there is no doubt that he has enjoyed a fantastic year on the tour. He has won five tournaments this season and no other player has come close to that.

    Tiger is also No. 1 in FedEx Cup points with 3,059, giving him a whopping 766 point edge over second-ranked Matt Kuchar.

    Tiger is clearly going to be the favorite to win the FedEx Cup title, and it will take a substantial effort to beat him.

Not: Luke Donald

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    Luke Donald is a very capable golfer who was the top-ranked player in the World Golf Rankings before Rory McIlroy took over that position in 2012.

    While Donald has a complete game and can compete with the best in the sport when he is on top of his game, he has not been at that level in recent weeks.

    The 2013 season has been poor for Donald. He has four top-10 finishes in 13 events and he has failed to make the cut in three of his last four events, including the British Open and the PGA Championship.

    Donald ranks 54th in FedEx Cup points with 707, and he will have to show major improvement if he is going to be a factor in the playoffs.

Hot: Matt Kuchar

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    While Matt Kuchar has not been quite as spectacular as Tiger Woods this season, he has been perhaps the steadiest and most consistent performer on the tour.

    Kuchar has made the cut in all 19 events he has played and he is second in money earned with $5 million. He is also second in FedEx Cup points with 2,293.

    Kuchar's calm demeanor serves him well on the tour and it's a big reason as to why he has made 23 consecutive cuts, the best figure on the tour. He also ranks seventh on the tour in scoring average with a mark of 69.57 per round.

Not: Bubba Watson

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    Bubba Watson may be one of the most colorful players on the tour, but he has not been enjoying his best year.

    Watson has had big problems stringing consistent rounds together. The 2012 Masters champion has not finished in the top three in any event this year and he has garnered just $1.5 million in earnings after bringing home $4.6 million last year.

    Watson has not finished any higher than 21st in his last five events and he was at completely loose ends in the PGA Championship as he failed to make the cut.

    Watson has 856 points and ranks 35th in FedEx Cup standings.

Hot: Phil Mickelson

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    A look at the PGA Championship final standings shows that Phil Mickelson finished tied for 72nd among competitors who played all four rounds.

    It was a case of one step forward and two steps back for Lefty, but don't make the mistake of thinking he's not capable of reeling off several FedEx Cup playoff wins and possibly taking the championship away from Tiger Woods.

    Mickelson's championship performance at the British Open was perhaps the best show by any golfer all season. When everything is working for the creative Mickelson, he is very difficult to beat. Mickelson has 2,166 FedEx Cup points, and that ranks fourth this year.

Not: Ernie Els

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    Ernie Els has been one of the classiest players on the PGA tour for years, but there is reason to think that his skills are starting to diminish.

    That makes sense, because it's hard for golfers to continue to play at a peak level after they turn 40. Els, 43, has played in 15 PGA events this year and has just one top 10 finish. He has cracked the top 25 five times, but he has failed to make the cut in three events.

    Els has won less than $1 million on the tour and his 522 FedEx Cup points rank 86th. Els ranks 162nd in driving accuracy and 118th in strokes gained putting. That's not a good combination for a player who once ranked near the top in scoring and was a threat in nearly every big tournament he entered.

Hot: Jason Dufner

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    Jason Dufner is the picture of concentration in any event he plays on the tour. It looks like he is both emotionless and expressionless, but that unchanging look on his face just marks his concentration on the next shot coming up.

    Dufner is coming off a terrific win in the PGA Championship, the first major win of his career. Dufner does not get intimidated by his surroundings or his competitors, and that's why he should make a strong showing in the FedEx Cup playoff.

    Dufner is 14th with 1,256 FedEx Cup points after bringing home the Wanamaker Trophy. Dufner was also fourth in the U.S. Open, 20th in the Masters and 26th in the British Open.

Not: John Huh

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    John Huh had an excellent rookie season in 2012 when he won one tournament, finished second in another and earned nearly $2.7 million.

    However, Huh has not built off of that strong year. He has just one top-10 finish and has failed to make the cut in 10 of the 23 events he has played. He has earned slightly less than $1 million this year.

    Huh has 499 FedEx Cup points, and that ranks 90th in the standings. Last year, Huh was an up-and-coming player and he performed respectably in all four FedEx Cup playoff events. That kind of showing is not likely this year.