FedEx Cup 2014: Stock Watch for Golf's Top Stars
The PGA Tour's regular season is in the rearview mirror.
The 2014 majors have been contested.
It's time now for the FedEx Cup playoffs—a collection of four tournaments that concludes with the Tour Championship.
What better time to give 10 of the best players in the world a look-see and determine who gets a "stock up" or a "stock down"?
Here's a list that includes some of both.
Check it out and see how it matches up with your list.
Stock Up: Rory McIlroy
If Rory McIlroy was a stock, he'd be breaking every record on the stock market.
He's won his last three starts including two majors (British Open and PGA Championship).
But the thing with McIlroy is that he hasn't just won those tournaments—he's overpowered them. He didn't run away from the field, but the rest of the field knew that every time the Northern Irishman stepped on the tee, a drive of over 300 yards was just seconds away. And it usually found its way into the middle of the fairway.
Just as scary as that for those he's playing against is his desire to keep doing what he's doing.
“I think first and foremost, my priority is the FedEx Cup," McIlroy said in the Irish Times. "I came close a couple of years ago but didn’t quite get the job done. I feel like my game’s in good enough shape that I can keep this run of golf going and try and win that.”
Stock Up: Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler has had a phenomenal season, finishing in the top five in all four majors.
Perhaps even more impressive than those top fives (if that's possible) is the fact that, according to Kyle Porter on CBSSports.com, Fowler beat 98.04 percent of the golfers (he faced 561 other players and beat 550 of them).
His last four starts are T8, T2, T2 and T3.
He couldn't possibly be any hotter unless one or two of those T2s would have been a first place.
How can he get over the hump? He needs to hit more fairways and greens. His statistics in those categories are mediocre at best, and improvement could turn a great season into a spectacular one.
Fowler hasn't won in more than two years, but if anyone is more poised to win than he is, that player would be hard to identify.
Stock Down: Bubba Watson
Bubba Golf was on display at its finest at Augusta National Golf Club in April as the left-hander from Bagdad, Florida, won his second green jacket.
Since then, it's been like watching a movie we've seen before. As he did when he won his first Masters in 2012, Watson has gone into a nosedive.
In eight starts since the Masters, Watson has missed two cuts, and his best finish was a T16 in the Greenbrier Classic.
To put an exclamation point on how things are going for Watson, he once again lost his composure in adverse weather conditions and unleashed several profanities. That, in itself, isn't all that unusual, except that Watson likes to portray himself as a very religious man.
Watson plays a creative, aggressive game, but once again that game has gone south after he won a major title.
Stock Down: Jordan Spieth
The golf world waited anxiously for the start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season to begin so that 20-year-old sensation Jordan Spieth could continue his march toward the major title he seemed destined to win.
He had just come off a terrific rookie season in which he went from a player with no status on the PGA Tour to a kid who won an event, was a contender in big tournaments all the way and played as a member of the Presidents Cup.
A T2 in the Masters and a T4 in the Players Championship only strengthened the belief that he was about to take that big step upward.
But something happened after that. The only top-10 finish he's had since was a T7 at the John Deere Classic.
Spieth's last three results—T36, 49, MC—suggest his game has last something, or he's hit the wall.
Stock Up: Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker has played a lot of golf this year—23 events, to be exact.
But he's also played a lot of good golf this year. The 35-year-old native of Oklahoma won three times in the early part of the PGA Tour's wrap-around schedule and has earned more than $5.3 million—by far his best season.
It would have been reasonable for Walker to slow down, but that hasn't happened.
Since late in May, Walker has posted four top 10s, including a T7 in the PGA Championship.
As he's done for most of the season, don't be surprised if Walker hangs around through the FedEx and be right there in the Tour Championship.
Stock Down: Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia's career has been on the rise the last few years, and he has had an outstanding year, posting three second- and two third-place finishes and earning more than $4.3 million.
His still owns a lengthy winless streak (0-of-65) and didn't do much to end that this year. He missed the cut at the Masters, ended with T35s at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship and had a T2 at the British Open.
Garcia is ranked fourth in the world and seventh in the FedEx Cup standings.
But he's been too inconsistent and can't be looked at as a serious contender in the playoffs.
Stock Up: Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is the wild card entering the FedEx Cup playoffs this week.
When he tees it up Thursday at Ridgewood Country Club, which Mickelson will show up—the guy who went through the spring and summer without a single top-10 finish or the guy who has strung together six straight rounds in the 60s, including that final-round 62 at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational?
A fired-up Mickelson, always a fan favorite in the New York-New Jersey area, who's playing well could get the playoffs off to a flying start.
Stock Up: Adam Scott
Since the end of May, when Adam Scott won the Crowne Plaza International, he's put up six consecutive top-15 finishes, including T9, T5 and T15 in the final three major championships of the year.
He unfortunately put up those numbers at about the same time Rory McIlroy decided to turn professional golf into RoryWorld. And, as a result, Scott's reign as the No. 1 player in the world was short-lived.
Obviously, he's playing well, and when that's happening, he's a threat every time he plays.
Scott isn't hitting as many fairways as he'd like at 62.30 percent, but otherwise his statistics look like they belong to a guy who's winning golf tournaments.
Stock Down: Martin Kaymer
You remember Martin Kaymer—the guy who went wire-to-wire to win the Players Championship and followed that with a complete domination of Pinehurst No. 2 and the field in another wire-to-wire triumph in the U.S. Open.
Since then, he's been an entirely different player. His last three starts have yielded 70, T56 and MC.
As it turns out, there's a really good reason for that. Kaymer has been battling a shoulder problem that showed up during the week of the British Open. His practice time at Royal Liverpool was very limited as a result of the injury.
At the PGA Championship, he said the shoulder was fine.
The results certainly weren't fine, as he missed the cut.
Stock Down: Matt Kuchar
Since winning the RBC Heritage with a spectacular hole-out from a greenside bunker on the 72nd hole, Matt Kuchar has put up seven top-20 finishes.
His worst finish in that run was a T54 in the British Open, and he didn't even play in the PGA Championship, withdrawing before the first round because of a bad back.
Instead of him being a lock, as the Ryder Cup points say he is, Kuchar is a question mark—not only for the Ryder Cup but for the FedEx Cup as well.
Kuchar is scheduled to play this week in the Barclays, but with his back being as tricky as it is, there are no guarantees.