The PGA Tour's regular season concluded on Sunday at Wyndham Championship outside Charlotte with a guy I'll admit I know little about winning: 21-year-old South Korean Si Woo Kim for his first career Tour title. He shot a final-round 67 on Sunday to finish at 21-under 259 (tying tournament record) and beat out former world No. 1 Luke Donald by five shots. Kim really won the tournament on Friday with a course-record 60 and never looked back.
The victory jumped Kim, the youngest Tour winner this season, from 43rd to 15th in the FedEx Cup points standings, meaning he's probably going to qualify for the Tour Championship regardless of what happens in the first three playoff tournaments.
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Needless to say, I didn't have Kim winning last week. I went with Charlotte native Webb Simpson, but he disappointed with a T71. I was also really high on Bill Haas, but he was T22. I did hit on Jim Furyk for a Top 10 at +200 and he finished T10. I also hit on a few head-to-head props.
So now we move on to playoff-opening Barclays at Bethpage State Park's tough Black Course in Farmingdale, N.Y. The course hosted the U.S. Open in 2009 (Lucas Glover won at 4 under) and 2002 (Tiger Woods at 3 under). I'm sure the course isn't set up near as tough as those Opens, but it will still be challenging.
The Top 125 in the points advanced to the Barclays. Perhaps the biggest winner in Charlotte other than Kim was Shawn Stefani, who shot a final-round 66 on Sunday to finish T14 and jump from No. 133 to No. 123 in the points. The other guy who was on the outside looking in and played his way into the playoffs was Kyle Stanley, who was also T14 to rise from No. 127 to No. 116. Thus that means two guys who were inside the Top 125 had to be knocked out, and they were Matt Jones and Whee Kim, who both missed the cut at the Wyndham. The current guy at No. 125 is Seung-Yul Noh. The Top 125 in points also retain their Tour cards for the 2016-17 season and qualify for next year's Players Championship. Nos. 126-150 in the FedEx Cup retained conditional Tour status for next season.
The Top 100 after the Barclays move on to the next event in Boston; No. 100 currently is Jonas Blixt. Bethpage Black is a par-71, 7,468-yard monster public course. It also hosted this event in 2012, and Nick Watney won at 10-under 274, two shots ahead of Brandt Snedeker. Not all of the Top 125 are playing: Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Danny Willett and Anirban Lahiri aren't, but the first three have enough points where they will advance regardless.
The defending champion is points leader and world No. 1 Jason Day. He shot a final-round 62 last year at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey to finish at 19 under and lap the field by six shorts. Day, who nearly had to pull out of the tournament after hurting his back two days before it started, began the final round in a tie for the lead with Sangmoon Bae, who shot a 72.
Golf Odds: The Barclays Favorites
Day is the +750 favorite at Bovada to repeat. Since the playoffs were instituted in 2007, no one has gone back-to-back in the tournament or even won it twice. Day was also second in the event two years ago but a different course than last year. He hasn't played since a runner-up in the PGA Championship.
Dustin Johnson, just 34 points behind Day, is +900. He won this tournament in 2011 at Plainfield. Johnson missed the cut in 2009 and was ninth last year. He comes off a MC at the PGA Championship.
Rory McIlroy (+1000), Henrik Stenson (+1200) and reigning FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth (+1400) round out the favorites. Stenson finished second to Day last year and comes off a silver-medal performance in Rio. McIlroy didn't play this event last year and missed the cut at the PGA Championship. Spieth missed the cut at the 2015 Barclays and also last played at the PGA (T14).
Golf Odds: The Barclays Picks
For a Top 10, I like Day (-120), Stenson (+125) and Hideki Matsuyama (+250), who has back-to-back Top 5 finishes on Tour. I lean Stenson at +275 as the top European, Matsuyama (-150) as top Asian and Louis Oosthuizen (+185) as top South African. I'm not that high on McIlroy or Spieth this week.
Head-to-head, go with Day (-130) over Johnson (even), Stenson (-105) over McIlroy (-125), Justin Rose (even) over Spieth (-130), Brooks Koepka (-115) over Phil Mickelson (-115), and Matsuyama (-125) over Adam Scott (-105).
Always tougher to handicap a tournament that rotates courses, but I'll go with Stenson as he's on the best run of his career.
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