10 surprising golfers at risk of missing the FedEx Cup Playoffs
The FedEx Cup Playoffs, like everything else in the golf world, has gone through some big changes this past year.
Specifically the playoffs have gotten more exclusive. While they’d run 125 players deep since their inception in 2007, this year that number has been slashed to 70 as part of the Tour’s reimagined structure. Cracking the top 70 means locking in full Tour status for the 2024 season. Advancing to the second round of the playoffs (the top 50) guarantees admission to the Tour’s designated events. And making it to the Tour Championship (top 30) still comes with its own range of benefits, including berths in the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
For the second consecutive season there’s a list of well-known names that’ll be missing from the playoffs because they’ve left for LIV. So it’s no surprise that Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau won’t be there. But there’s also a group of familiar faces on the outside looking in just because they haven’t played their way there. Here are 10 of ’em.
11. Tiger Woods (No. 223 in the FedEx Cup, 11 points)
This is a list of 10 but it’s worth a nod to Woods anyway, so we’ll toss him in the No. 11 slot. The newest member of the PGA Tour’s Policy Board is actually two for two in cuts made this year — at the Genesis and the Masters — but Woods’ days at East Lake may be behind him.
10. Kevin Kisner (No. 199, 70 pts)
He was on last year’s Presidents Cup team and inside the top 30 in the world — but Kisner hasn’t been quite himself since then; his best finish is T29 and his last six starts include four missed cuts and two WDs. The last time we saw Kisner he shot seven-over 42 on the front at the Travelers Championship before WDing with an undisclosed illness.
Now Kisner is taking some time away from the Tour, effectively ending his chances at making the playoffs. Why? He put it succinctly on Twitter last month: “Bc I suck right now,” he wrote.
As to the question of when he’ll return?
“When I can break par at home consistently.”
9. Webb Simpson (No. 169, 147 pts)
This time three years ago Simpson was inside the top five in the world. In the world! This year he played in just one major championship and he’s well outside the playoff picture. Here’s hoping for another Simpson renaissance — a Simpsonaissance? — but he’s posted just a single top 20 on Tour this season.
8. Will Zalatoris (No. 135, 244 pts)
It’s not surprising that Will Zalatoris will miss the playoffs, given he essentially didn’t play this season. His inclusion here serves more just a reminder that he’s out there — and he’s the type of guy who will presumably be commanding attention for sponsor invites next season if he slips outside the OWGR top 30. (He’s currently No. 19.)
7. Billy Horschel (No. 116, 350 pts)
When Horschel was on last year’s Presidents Cup team he was a man of two minds. Partly he was grateful; spots on these teams are scarce and he knew that in real time. He knew he might not be on this year’s Ryder Cup team. But shortly thereafter he also confessed to some massive career goals. He wanted to win major championships, and not just one major but like, all of them. That’s a big goal for someone whose only career top-15 finish in a major came in 2013 — the first he played as a pro.
This year he’s been open and insightful about his struggles. His iron play has plummeted, and it’s tough to survive on Tour without confidence in your approach game. But he showed some progress last week; he played in one of Sunday’s final pairings at the 3M and finished T13. Perhaps that’s a sign of things to come.
6. Akshay Bhatia (No. 99, 435 pts)
After he won the Barracuda Championship, the first thing on Akshay Bhatia’s mind was…this.
“I’m in the playoffs now, which was a huge goal for me,” he said. “My goal is to win. Obviously, to get in the top 50 for next season. And, yeah, I think it changes a little bit of the plans. I mean, I’m just excited. I love playing golf, I love playing on the PGA Tour and it’s just a dream come true to have it.”
Oh, boy. As it turns out, Bhatia is not in the playoffs. Deep in the Tour’s regulations there’s a line that says Special Temporary Members like him can’t accrue FedEx Cup points at opposite-field events. Tough luck for Bhatia, who finished T9 at the Barbasol before winning the Barracuda.
Credit to Bhatia, who called the kerfuffle “a little frustrating” but vowed he’ll be back. With a top-four finish at the Wyndham he’d be in, too.
5. Kevin Streelman (No. 84, 505 pts)
No, Streelman isn’t necessarily as well-known as the four golfers that’ll follow. But when it comes to the FedEx Cup Playoffs he’s about as established as they come. The playoffs began in 2007. Streelman qualified as a rookie in 2008. He hasn’t missed one since. Now the 44-year-old will need a high finish at Wyndham to lock up his spot. The good news? No. 84 is a whole lot higher than No. 120, which is where Streelman stood before finishing T2 at last week’s 3M.
4. Joel Dahmen (No. 82, 515 pts)
Earlier this year, Joel Dahmen became golf’s international everyman in Full Swing, where he pointed out that somebody has to be the 70th-ranked golfer in the world, so it might as well be him. Dahmen got off to a red-hot start to the season last fall, earning a majority of the points he’d need to qualify for the playoffs. But now, having missed six of his last seven cuts, Dahmen would love to be the 70th-ranked golfer on the PGA Tour. We’ll see if he can climb that hill this week.
3. Adam Scott (No. 81, 517 pts)
Remember when I said that Kevin Streelman had qualified for every FedEx Cup Playoffs since 2008? Well, Adam Scott has him beat. Scott was in the inaugural playoffs in 2007 and has impressively played his way into every postseason since. He’s actually played reasonably well this season, too, but the FedEx Cup disproportionately rewards winners and top-three finishers. So even though Scott has more top 10s than he does missed cuts. he’s still on the outside looking in as he hopes to extend a streak only equaled by Matt Kuchar (safely in at No. 59).
2. Justin Thomas (No. 79, 546 pts)
Justin Thomas enters this week’s Wyndham Championship on a really strange stretch of golf. He’s missed five cuts in his last seven starts, including a missed cut at last week’s 3M and a particularly eye-popping 83 at the Open Championship. Now he’s at risk of missing both the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup, too. If he finishes roughly top eight this week he’d qualify for the postseason, which would give him at least one more start to show he’s in form enough to make the trip to Rome. If he doesn’t, he’ll easily be the biggest surprise of the FedEx Cup season.
1. Shane Lowry (No. 76, 556 pts)
Like Scott’s season and like most of Thomas’, too, Shane Lowry has actually played largely fine. But if fine is enough to get you comfortably inside the top 125, cracking the top 70 is a taller, tougher task. Lowry finished T14 at the Genesis and T5 at the Honda Classic. He cracked the top 20 in the first three majors of the year. He’s missed just three cuts. And yet he lacks the sort of flashy finish that would get him across the line.
Maybe it’ll come at the Wyndham.
Below you’ll find the rest of the bubble — and see just how far ahead the top 70 sit.
75. Davis Thompson (559 points)
74. David Lingmerth (561)
73. K.H. Lee (567)
72. Garrick Higgo (586)
71. Ben Taylor (592)
70. Austin Eckroat (594)
69. Cam Davis (605)
68. Ben Griffin (617)
67. J.J. Spaun (619)
66. Vincent Norrman (631)
65. Matt NeSmith (637)
64. Stephen Jaeger (641)
63. Beau Hossler (658)
62. Sam Ryder (660)
61. Aaron Rai (670)
60. Sam Stevens (670)