FedEx Cup 2013: Underrated Players Whose Stock Is Rising After Barclays

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FedEx Cup 2013: Underrated Players Whose Stock Is Rising After Barclays
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The 2013 FedEx Cup playoffs opened with plenty of excitement, as Adam Scott won The Barclays on Sunday, beating out a quartet of players headlined by world No. 1 Tiger Woods by just one stroke.

Two of those who finished as joint runners-up are relatively unheralded, but should be considered legitimate forces moving forward in the PGA Tour's postseason.

Although the tournament was held at Liberty National Golf Club this season after being at Bethpage a year ago, defending champion Nick Watney got a desperately needed solid finish to boost his stock entering next week's Deutsche Bank Championship.

Below is a breakdown of Watney and others who cannot be discounted as the race to the Tour Championship continues at the TPC Boston tourney this coming Thursday.

Note: Statistics, video and prior finishes are courtesy of PGATour.com.

 

Graham DeLaet

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The 31-year-old Canadian is a ball-striking sensation, simply put. He is not a household name by any means, but that could very well change in short order.

DeLaet is third on tour in greens in regulation percentage and first in total driving, with the latter part being particularly impressive at The Barclays, per PGATour.com's Amanda Balionis:

In shooting a final-round 65 on the difficult par-71 layout, DeLaet matched Phil Mickelson for low round of the day in catapulting himself up the leaderboard and the reassigned FedEx Cup point standings.

With that combination of distance and accuracy, a few more putts are all DeLaet needs to truly rise to an elite level.

It seems only a matter of time before DeLaet breaks through, considering his talent level, the way he can swing when he's on and the fact that he's now notched six top-10s this season—a mark bettered by only eight players.

 

Gary Woodland

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Few can hit it as far as the supremely athletic Woodland, who won the Stableford formatted Reno-Tahoe Open the week the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was being held concurrently.

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The momentum Woodland generated from that result—his first top-10 since the 2012 Frys.com Open—clearly carried over to the playoffs even after a lackluster effort at the PGA Championship.

A second-round 64 got Woodland to the top in Jersey City, and he held the 54-hole lead at The Barclays with Matt Kuchar. Unfortunately, Woodland could not hole enough putts on the final day to salvage a second victory in three starts.

For the week, though, he was second in putts per greens in regulation and led the field with 22 birdies. A triple bogey in the opening round and a double bogey at No. 5 on Sunday ultimately foiled his chances.

With an opportunity to force a playoff against champion Adam Scott on the 72nd hole, Woodland missed a relatively short birdie putt to the left, eerily similar to the one Justin Rose misfired on for par on the right:

Woodland said he hit it right where he wanted to, and judging from Rose's putt, it seemed destined to break, but never did:

At this tournament two years ago, the promising American was ranked 37th in the world. It's been an injury-riddled road since then, but Woodland is clearly rounding into form at a great time.

 

Nick Watney

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It's hard to consider a man who won The Barclays in 2012 to be underrated, but Watney has been flying a bit under the radar with a relatively lackluster 2013 campaign.

A tie for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open to start the season seemed to indicate a strong year for Watney, who has five PGA Tour wins on his resume and is a prime candidate to have a breakthrough major victory soon.

However, his T-9 on Sunday at The Barclays marked only his second top-10 result since Torrey Pines.

The main culprit for Watney's poor form has been on the greens, where he ranks 131st in total putting. Liberty National was the site for an encouraging change to that trend, as Watney ranked tied for 10th in strokes gained putting for the week.

If he is able to putt decently while still maintaining his brilliant level of iron play, Watney should be a factor. That's especially so at a ball-strikers' paradise such the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he is coming off a personal-best tie for 20th last year.

 

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