GERMANTOWN, Tenn. – It took three balls in the water and the worst putting round of Scottie Scheffler’s professional career for the top spot in the FedExCup to finally be up for grabs.
RELATED: Leaderboard | Projected FedExCup standings
Scheffler had put the number one spot out of reach with his incredible stretch in the first half of the year. He’s led the TOUR’s season-long points race since winning four times in six starts, including the Masters, and most of those weeks he’s had a margin so large that it would take his closest pursuer multiple events to chase him down.
The elevated points in the Playoffs, however, mean that we could have a new FedExCup leader for the first time since March, though it’s far from a certainty because of Scheffler’s success earlier this season.
He missed the cut in the Playoffs opener, the FedEx St. Jude Championship, by just a single shot despite his struggles on the greens and finding some of the penalty areas that make TPC Southwind the annual site of the most water balls on TOUR.
“Anytime you lose five strokes on the greens and still give yourself a chance to make the cut is pretty good,” Scheffler said Friday after signing for a 68, “because five shots is a lot.”
It was Scheffler’s fourth missed cut of the season, matching his number of wins. He is still projected to hold the top spot in the FedExCup, however, because he entered the Playoffs with a 1,221-point lead over Cameron Smith.
“I was practicing really hard at home, was playing really well and just showed up and had my worst putting day ever,” Scheffler said. “Golf kind of smacks you in the face sometimes.”
Scheffler started his week by hitting his approach on TPC Southwind’s 10th hole to 4 feet. He missed the birdie putt, however. It was the start of a trend. He missed a 9-footer for birdie on the next hole, as well. Then he played the next three holes in 4 over, hitting two approach shots into the water. He made three birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way to salvage a 71 despite losing 4.6 strokes on the greens. He missed six putts inside 10 feet in the opening round, including three within 5 feet.
Friday started promisingly with birds on two of his first three holes, and he was still 1 under when he hit his approach to No. 9 into the lake fronting the green. Birdies at 14 and 15 pulled him within one of the cut line, but he missed an 8-foot birdie putt on 16 and 20-footers on the final two holes.
Only 15 players arrived at TPC Southwind within 2,000 FedExCup points of Scheffler, the number of points awarded for a win this week. Six players who could pass Scheffler are inside the top 20 on the leaderboard, and within five shots of JJ Spaun’s lead entering the weekend. Smith and Tony Finau are both three back and in a tie for fifth place. Finau is looking for his third consecutive win, while Smith is looking to add the FedExCup to his wins at THE PLAYERS and The Open.
Sam Burns, Justin Thomas, Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick are all five back and in a tie for 17th. Zalatoris’ 63 matched Friday’s low round.
Only two of the 15 players who could pass Scheffler, No. 6 Rory McIlroy and 15th-ranked Jordan Spieth, missed the cut (Hideki Matsuyama, who’s 11th in the FedExCup, withdrew before the tournament began with a neck injury). McIlroy bogeyed his 18th hole Friday to also miss the cut by one. Spieth shot 74 on Friday and finished six outside of the cut line.
Five winners in the FedExCup’s 15-year history failed to earn a point in the Playoffs opener.
Justin Rose (2018), Jordan Spieth (2015) and Billy Horschel (2014) missed the cut. Jim Furyk was disqualified from the first Playoffs event in 2010 for missing his pro-am tee time after his cell phone lost power overnight and his alarm didn’t go off. Tiger Woods won the inaugural FedExCup after choosing to not play the first Playoffs event.
NOTES: Anirban Lahiri missed the cut by one but is clinging to the 70th spot in the projected standings after entering the week at No. 63 in the standings. TOUR rookie Alex Smalley is in a similar position, sitting two ahead of Lahiri in the standings after also missing the cut by one. … The seasons are over for players who entered the week outside the top 70 in the FedExCup and missed the cut. Those players include Matthew NeSmith, who entered the week at No. 72; Nick Watney (No. 111); Puerto Rico Open champion Ryan Brehm (No. 117); former PLAYERS champion Webb Simpson (No. 122); former FedExCup champion Justin Rose (No. 94) and Stewart Cink (No. 115), who won twice last year.
BMW BUBBLE WATCH
Here are the players projected to move inside the top 70 of the FedExCup after the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship and advance to next week’s BMW Championship at Wilmington (Del.) Country Club:
Adam Scott (No. 77, projected to 53): He’s T9 at 7-under 133 after making birdie on his final two holes Friday. A good finish not only would get him in the BMW but would clinch his Presidents Cup spot and keep Captain Trevor Immelman from needing to use a Captain’s Pick on him. Scott currently holds the eighth and final spot in the International Team standings; the top eight after the BMW qualify for the team.
Ryan Palmer (No. 110, projected to 56): The veteran is seeking his 11th BMW appearance in the last 14 years. He is just three off the lead after shooting 65-67.
Wyndham Clark (No. 79, projected to 62): Birdied his final three holes Friday to shoot second straight 67. He sits at 6 under as he seeks his first BMW start in three years.
Andrew Putnam (No. 87, projected to 67): Former runner-up at TPC Southwind (2018 FedEx St. Jude Classic) is seeking first BMW start since 2019.
Cam Davis (No. 66, projected to 71): Got up-and-down on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number and keep his BMW hopes alive.
Brandon Todd (No. 68, projected to 72): Made three bogeys in his first six holes Friday, but played his last 12 holes in 4 under to make the cut and keep his Playoffs hopes alive.
John Huh (No. 67, projected to 74): The runner-up at last week’s Wyndham Championship withdrew with a lower-back injury after shooting 40 on his first nine holes Friday.
Lanto Griffin (No. 69, projected to 78): He is not in the field after having back surgery earlier this year.