Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars Ahead of the 2013 FedEx Cup

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2013

Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars Ahead of the 2013 FedEx Cup

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    The FedEx Cup playoffs have only been around since 2007, but the event has grown in stature every year.

    Borrowing from the major sports, golf authorities decided that an end-of-year playoff system would be a logical and exciting way to decide that season's champion. While the FedEx Cup does not carry the stature of golf's major events, the four playoff events—The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and Tour Championship—are among the most important of the year.

    This year's FedEx Cup has a chance to be thrilling. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Adam Scott are among those in prime contention for the title.

    Here's a look at the form of the top stars as The Barclays gets underway.

Adam Scott

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    Strength: Adam Scott is one of the tour's best all-around players. He is a huge hitter who also hits his irons with great accuracy. He ranks 24th in distance off the tee and in greens in regulation. That's a tough combination for any of his competitors to beat. If Scott is putting well, he has the ability to make a run through the FedEx Cup playoffs.

    Season Highlight: While Scott was one of the better golfers on the tour, he had never won a major until he got to this year's Masters. He made a magnificent birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Angel Cabrera to clinch his first major title and the honor of wearing the green jacket.

    Recent Form: Scott made a run at the British Open, finishing third at Muirfield. He tied for 14th at the Bridgestone Invitational and then was fifth in the PGA Championship. Scott has shown the ability to rise to the occasion in the big events this year.

    Stock Watch: Major factor because of his strong record in the majors.

Justin Rose

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    Strength: Much like Adam Scott, Justin Rose is one of the best ball strikers on the tour. He gets excellent distance on his tee shots and he finds the fairway 63.80 percent of the time. That's a big reason that Rose is in contention much of the time. Rose is also one of the best bunker players on the tour—he ranks fourth in sand saves this season.

    Season Highlight: Rose held it together under the toughest circumstances as he won the U.S. Open at brutally tough Merion. He shot a one-over-par 281 to win his first major championship.

    Recent Form: Rose has not been playing his best golf since winning the U.S. Open in June. Since then, he has not made the top 10 in any of the four events he has entered. He failed to make the cut at the British Open and tied for 33rd at the PGA Championship.

    Stock Watch: Despite recent form, one of the best ball-strikers on the tour. Prime contender.

Billy Horschel

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    Strength: Billy Horschel's confidence is sky-high because he has enjoyed an outstanding year. Horschel earned less than $500,000 last year, but he has exceeded the $3.1 million mark this year. Horschel makes the most of his opportunities—he is averaging 4.11 birdies per round, ranking second on the tour in that category.

    Season Highlight: Horschel had a breakthrough moment when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, firing a 20-under-par 268 to secure the victory. He also tied for fourth in the U.S. Open, showing he could compete with the best players in the most important events.

    Recent Form: While Horschel had a streak of four straight top-10 finishes at the midway point of the season, he has not been at his best recently. He did not make the cut at the British Open or the PGA Championship.

    Stock Watch: Good golfer who may be in over his head against the best.

Bill Haas

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    Strength: Bill Haas is not a big hitter, but he is hitting 68.73 percent of his greens in regulation, ranking 10th on the tour. Haas often finds the fairway off the tee, but when he doesn't, he tends to hit his recovery shots on the money and that's why he has earned more than $3.2 million this year.

    Season Highlight: Haas won the AT&T National in late June with a four-round score of 12-under-par 272. That triumph allowed him to take home a $1.170 million payday. He has nine top-10 finishes in the 21 events he has entered this year.

    Recent Form: After failing to make the cut at the British Open, Haas was seventh at the Bridgestone Invitational. He finished 25th in the PGA Championship and 20th at the Wyndham Championship.

    Stock Watch: Accurate player who has a chance to contend even though he doesn't have a superstar persona.

Phil Mickelson

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    Strength: Phil Mickelson is perhaps the most versatile golfer on the tour. He has all the shots to win, and his creativity allows him to try things that few other golfers would even think about. Mickelson has an all-or-nothing attitude and can lead to spectacular results or incredible blunders. Mickelson is never going to show fear on the golf course.

    Season Highlight: Mickelson is probably the lead candidate for player of the year to this point in the season. He won the British Open when he fired a final-round 66 at Muirfield to roar past the field, calling that final round one of the best of his career.

    Recent Form: Mickelson has been floating a bit since his British Open triumph. He finished tied for 21st at the Bridgestone Invitational and then stumbled badly at the PGA Championship as he tied for 72nd. After taking a week off, his concentration level and game should be strong at The Barclays.

    Stock Watch: Mickelson should be relaxed and in prime form as the FedEx Cup playoffs get underway.

Brandt Snedeker

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    Strength: Brandt Snedeker is one of the best and most complete players on the tour. While his consistency and strength have not translated in the major tournaments, they have in nearly every other event he has entered. Snedeker has two wins and two second-place finishes and has earned nearly $5 million this year. He is one of the best putters on the tour, ranking fifth in strokes gained on the green.

    Season Highlight: Snedeker demonstrated his ability to go on a hot streak early in the year when he put together back-to-back second-place finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix Open before winning the following week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

    Recent Form: Snedeker picked up his second victory of the year when he won the RBC Canadian Open in July, but has not finished higher than a tie for 33rd since then. He failed to make the cut at the Wyndham Championship last weekend.

    Stock Watch: One of the most consistent players on the tour. Ready to show that he can beat the best on a big stage.

Matt Kuchar

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    Strength: Matt Kuchar is one of the most consistent players on the tour. Kuchar has won two tournaments and finished second in two others and he has made the cut in all 19 tournaments he has competed in this season. Kuchar leads the tour with 23 consecutive made cuts. Kuchar is not going to win many long drive contests, but he will find the fairway and reach the green with a chance to make birdie.

    Season Highlight: Kuchar has played well all year, but he set the tone for ranking as perhaps the season's second-best player when he won the Accenture Match Play Championship in late February. That victory showed he could beat the best golfers in the world in one-on-one confrontations.

    Recent Form: Kuchar dueled Brandt Snedeker in the Canadian Open and ended up second in the event. He tied for 27th in the Bridgestone Invitational and tied for 22nd in the PGA Championship.

    Stock Watch: Calm and cool; should be a prime contender.

Tiger Woods

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    Strength: Tiger Woods is the best player in the world and he has the ranking to prove it. He also has the achievements, winning five tournaments this year. While none of them have been majors—that's another issue altogether—he has the dominating game and mindset to win most times when he finds himself in contention. Tiger ranks first in money earned, first in FedEx Cup points and first in scoring average this year.

    Season Highlight: Tiger's victory in the Bridgestone Invitational was reminiscent of the way he would play when he was at his peak. Woods fired a 15-under-par 265 and destroyed the field by seven strokes. By the midway point of the third round, it wasn't a question of who would win, but rather how big the final margin would be.

    Recent Form: Woods appeared to be at the top of his game after the win at Bridgestone, but he struggled to play consistently at the PGA Championship and finished tied for 40th.

    Stock Watch: Despite his failings in the majors, the best all-around game of any golfer on the tour. Great chance to finish on top.