Golf Buzz

August 25, 2015 - 5:12pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Dustin Johnson
USA Today Sports Images
In 2011 -- the last time the Barclays was played at Plainfield CC -- Dustin Johnson won by two strokes.

Playoffs? Did you say playoffs?

Yes, folks, it's time for the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup. The first of four season-ending events begins with the 125-man field at the Barclays in Edison, N.J. at Plainfield Country Club.

Come Sunday evening, the top 100 players on the FedExCup points list will advance to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.

RELATED: Tee times for the Barclays | This week in golf | Players turn focus to East Lake

Here are the five players you'll want to keep an eye on in the Garden State.

5. Jason Day
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Farmers Insurance Open, the RBC Canadian Open and the PGA Championship
Reason to watch: In terms of breakout seasons, Day has been second only to Jordan Spieth this season and his No. 2 spot in the FedExCup standings proves just that. This will be Day's first start since claiming his maiden major win at Whistling Straits. He's riding high on confidence and his power game is second to none. That is a scary combination for his fellow competitors. And since tee times for the Playoffs are based on the rankings, Day will be playing alongside Spieth and Bubba Watson for the first two days. If Day and Spieth feed off each other like they did at the PGA Championship, we could be in for another special weekend with two of the game's brightest young stars.

4. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Valspar Championship, the Masters, the U.S. Open and the John Deere Classic
Reason to watch: This will be Spieth's first start since taking over the No. 1 position in the Official World Golf Rankings at the conclusion of the PGA Championship, where he finished alone in second, closing out one of the most impressive major seasons in the game's history: Won the Masters, won the U.S. Open, T4 at the Open Championship and second at the PGA Championship. Spieth has been at the head of the class all season long. Will that continue during the Playoffs, where he holds the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings? There's no reason to believe it won't.

3. Justin Rose
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Reason to watch: Sitting at No. 5 in the FedExCup standings, Rose has been red-hot of late. Including a playoff loss at the Memorial, Rose has finished no worse than a T6 in five of his last six starts. His game appears to be peaking at just the right time. At Plainfield in 2011, Rose finished T6. He may not win this week, but expect him to be very much in the mix come late Sunday.

2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at Humana Challenge
Reason to watch: Kuchar is hoping to avoid his first winless season since 2011. In 2010, he snapped a season-long drought with a win at the Barclays and finished alone in second in the same tournament the very next season at Plainfield. Though Kuchar has made the cut in all but one of his 20 starts this season, one could argue it hasn't been the best of years for Kuch. He has five top 10s in 2014-15, his lowest number of top 10s since 2010. While his name hasn't been on the first page of the leaderboard as frequently recently as years past, he's the type of player who can win at any time if his putter gets hot. Kuchar can make loads of birdies -- a requirement at Plainfield in particular. He's 15th in the FedExCup standings heading into this week.

1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-Cadillac Championship
Reason to watch: Though his lone win came early in the season at Trump Doral, Johnson is very much in the thick of things for a run at the 2015 FedExCup. Entering this week at No. 7 in the points standings, Johnson has to be licking his chops as the Barclays returns to a familiar and friendly site for him. Johnson won the Barclays in 2011 when it was held at Plainfield, a two-shot victory over Matt Kuchar. Eight of Johnson's 17 starts this season have resulted in top-10 finishes. Most recently, Johnson tied for seventh at the PGA Championship. He also finished T6 at the U.S. Open and T2 at the U.S. Open. He is one of those players who truly shines in the bigger events on the PGA Tour and this week is one of those.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the Wyndham Championship:

5. Webb Simpson -- T6
4. Justin Thomas -- T56
3. Billy Horschel -- Missed cut
2. Bill Haas -- T6
1. Brandt Snedeker -- T43 

August 23, 2015 - 5:05pm
mark.aumann's picture
Tiger Woods
PGA Tour/Twitter
Tiger Woods' short game woes reared its ugly head Sunday at No. 11.

If there have been two issues with Tiger Woods' comeback efforts this season, it's been driver and the short game.

Until the 11th hole in Sunday's final round of the Wyndham Championship, it seemed Woods had kept both in check. Using a long iron off the tee on half of the holes, Tiger hadn't gotten overly wild, and when he had been off-target, he had made up with it with some impressive par saves.

SATURDAY: Tiger Woods with the fist pump after sinking long par putt

But when he missed the 11th green with his approach, his short game deserted him in the worst way, as evidenced by this chip that skitters over the green:



Adding insult to injury, Woods chunked the next shot short. Finally, getting on the green, he two-putted for an ugly triple-bogey 7, ending any chances he harbored of winning the tournament and advancing to the FedExCup playoffs.

After bogeying the next hole, Woods salvaged what he could on the day -- making three consecutive birdies to get back to 1-over.

And if there was a silver lining? This marvelous approach on the final hole:




Tiger drained the birdie putt for an even-par round of 70 and 13-under for the tournament.




August 23, 2015 - 3:58pm
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Brooks Koepka
PGA Tour/Twitter
Brooks Koepka prepares to hit his third shot Sunday at the par-5 15th.

If it seems like Brooks Koepka makes at least one eagle every weekend, that's almost the case. The PGA Tour leader in eagles this season, Koepka added his 19th on Sunday at the par-5 15th hole.

But in this instance, Koepka added a higher degree of difficulty. He did it with a sand wedge from a greenside bunker rather than reaching the green in 2:




That also moved Koepka to 6-under for the day and within a shot of the lead at that point.


August 23, 2015 - 2:29pm
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Scott Brown
PGA Tour/Twitter
Scott Brown is all smiles after a high-five from playing partner Tiger Woods.

The huge gallery following Tiger Woods and Scott Brown during Sunday's final round of the Wyndham Championship expected to do a lot of cheering, but mainly for Woods.

That changed at the par-3 third hole when Brown did this:



It was Brown's second ace of his PGA Tour career, and deservedly earned him high-fives from both his caddy and Tiger.

That's one heck of a way to get a big crowd on your side.

August 22, 2015 - 4:40pm
mark.aumann's picture
Tiger Woods
PGA Tour/Twitter
Tiger Woods gets his first fist pump of the day out of the way on No. 10.

When Tiger Woods is playing well, fans can expect a fist pump or two to punctuate a good shot. That was the case Saturday during the third round of the Wyndham Championship.

After making the turn at 2-under 33, Woods missed the 10th green way right and had to take a drop in deep rough to get relief from the grandstand. His attempt at a flop shot ran by the hole some 24 feet -- and it appeared Tiger might be looking at his first bogey of the day.

Woods, however, had other ideas:



There's the trademark fist pump.

Woods may not be all the way back, but at least his reactions are still classic Tiger.


August 21, 2015 - 12:53pm
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Andreas Harto
European Tour/Twitter
Andreas Harto proposes to his girlfriend in front of the gallery at the 16th hole.

Andreas Harto and his girlfriend will remember Friday's 16th hole of the Made in Denmark tournament for more than just the birdie he made at the par-3.

After sinking the putt, Harto pulled his girlfriend from the gallery, pulled out a jewelry box and then got on one knee.


Surprised but still able to give an answer, she said yes -- to the roar of the assembled fans. 

It's unusual, but not a first. PGA Tour pro Mark Hubbard pulled off his own pop-the-question proposal after his round earlier this year at Pebble Beach.