The first of four Playoff events gets underway this week where the top 125 in the Fedex Cup have qualified for The Barclays. The tournament returns to Ridgewood CC for the first time since 2010. The aim for the restricted field is to claim a spot in the coveted final 30 and a starting berth in the Tour Championship at East Lake, with a shot at the 10 million dollar bonanza. 100 players will progress from here to the Deutsche Bank at TPC Boston.
Rory McIlroy heads the Fedex Cup and tees it up at odds of 5.00 - possibly the shortest price we've seen for a market leader all season, such is his domination at the moment. Current holder and $10mil man Henrik Stenson looks like he's just about to hit top gear again and trades at 17.00.
2010 Fedex Cup winner Jim Furyk is another man extremely hot right now and he comes in at 26.00 after declaring he's in the form of his life from tee to green. Adam Scott will defend the title at 15.00, while Matt Kuchar who lifted the trophy in 2010 at Ridgewood, trades at a generous 34.00.
The Course - Ridgewood CC
A composite course playing 7,320 yards to a par of 71, a quick look at the two recent leaderboards here in 2008 and 2010 will give you a good idea of what's needed around this track. Five men contested two playoffs: Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Sutherland, Martin Laird and Matt Kuchar all share one attribute in common when on top of their games and that's excellent ball striking and tee to green play. Ridgewood CC is a tree-lined track with average sized greens protected by some penal bunkering. From flyovers I've looked at, the rough seems to have two definite cuts along average width fairways this year and may punish those errant from the tee.
Three from the pack
Webb Simpson is a standout candidate for me this week off the pack of a title push in Wyndham, eventually finishing fifth. Simpson is trying to force his way into Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson's plans and needs a good few weeks to do so. The North Carolina native has recorded eight top tens this year despite being in and out of form but he's fully focused on his golf for the foreseeable future. As ever, Simpson is up there in the putting stats - ranking 19th in total putting - and when the flat stick is on, he challenges. Webb trades at 51.00 or 11.00 the place.
Bill Haas - 51.00 or 11.00 - has been known to hit top gear at this stage of the season, taking down the 2011 Fedex Cup in superb style. Bill hit one of the best pressure shots of the century to secure the trophy 3 years ago when chipping from the water hazard on 18 to beat Hunter Mahan in sudden death. Haas ranks 31st in ball striking and 15th in GIR% and he's known for excelling from tee to green. He comes to Ridgewood fresh off a runner up finish, and ready for another title tilt with a progressive form line reading 51-41-27-2.
Nick Watney - 61.00 or 13.00 - took down the Barclays in 2012 and he's been firing back into top gear in recent weeks with form reading 12-8-33-5, two of those events in which he had a real chance to win. The problem for Watney in 2014 had been putting but we've seen signs of improvement on the greens, especially on tricky, speedy surfaces at Wyndham where he had 1.033 SGP on the field. As ever, Nick ranks up there with stats of 10th in total driving and 15th in ball striking which should hold him in good stead for Ridgewood.
Lee Westwood at 67.00 makes the staking plan on a course that should suit but another at a big price who should be a good fit for Ridgewood is Louis Oosthuizen - 81.00 or 17.00. Louis has had his injury problems this year and as such, kind of comes here under the radar. A sneaky 15th position at the PGA championships though doesn't go unnoticed with me and I love his tee to green game for the track in question.
See all our Barclays 2014 bets here