Sports Talk

Who will win the FedEx Cup?

The FedEx Cup playoffs begin this week at The Barclays at Bethpage Black. Tiger Woods is atop the points list, with Jason Dufner (skipping the first event) second and Rory McIlroy third. GolfChannel.com writers weigh in with whom they believe will win the sixth edition of the playoffs.

By JASON SOBEL

Trying to predict a FedEx Cup champion reminds me of an old saying: “You can pick your friends. And you can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”

Amended for the exercise of attempting to call a winner following the upcoming four playoff events, it may instead sound something like this: “You can pick the FedEx Cup. And you can pick a winner. But you can’t pick a FedEx Cup winner.”

With a volatile points system that can see even the lowest-ranked player get hot in a hurry and climb to the top, there are 125 valid choices for the next $10 million jackpot winner. And this year, there are even more variables. Bethpage Black and Crooked Stick, hosts of the first and third playoff events, respectively, have never held regular-season PGA Tour events in the past, only playing host to major championships.

So instead, let’s examine the other two. TPC Boston and East Lake have four common champions since taking their places on the schedule: Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

As a fan of redemption stories, I’m going with Scott to be this year’s FedEx Cup champion. He obviously has been in form this summer and after his collapse at the Open Championship, he is still hungry to get into the winner’s circle.

For a guy who has seen success at half of the venues already, he should own plenty of confidence entering this four-event stretch. You can’t pick a FedEx Cup winner? Well, maybe. But I’m going with Adam Scott anyway.


By RANDALL MELL

Rory McIlroy wins it all.

When he won the U.S. Open in a rout last year, who really knew if it would be remembered as a one-off fluke.

When he followed up in another runaway victory at this month's PGA Championship, it was confirmation this is a special talent.

He can and will run away like that again and just might do it with the FedEx Cup.

McIlroy started catching fire at the WGC-Bridgestone, the week before the PGA Championship. The big question now is whether he will have another letdown. It doesn't seem likely, not after this summer's swoon, not after he made it clear how he didn't like commentary on how his game went wayward with his priorities and his love life.

McIlroy is a quick study, and while golf is golf, form comes and goes, look for his best form to create more runaways.


By REX HOGGARD

The oddsmakers say your 2012 FedEx Cup champion will be Tiger Woods, while those with a flare for the dramatic lean toward heir apparent Rory McIlroy, fresh from his second major walk-off at the PGA Championship, cashing the $10 million lottery ticket.

History, however, suggests it will be a hot hand, not a household name, that will claim the season-long haul – which is why your correspondent is bullish on Carl Pettersson.

Pettersson fits the mold, if not the image of the modern PGA Tour player. At seventh on the FedEx Cup points list entering this week’s post-season opener at Bethpage he is, by any definition, under the radar. Much like Bill Haas was last year.

Haas began his 2011 playoff run 15th on the points list, kept pace with the pack with solid finishes at the first three post-season stops and got up-and-down from the mud adjacent East Lake’s 17th hole to clip Hunter Mahan and win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.

Truth is, just two of the top 7 on the season-ending 2011 points list began the playoffs inside the top 15; and in 2010 just three of the final top-10 finishers began the post-season inside the top 10.

The Tour calls it a season-long marathon, but it is in fact a four-week sprint. Pettersson may not have the look of a sprinter, but he’s certainly in the right position, and form, to make his move.


By RYAN LAVNER

For those wary of the FedEx Cup’s complicated points formula, this year finally offers an easy solution to determine the winner. Tiger Woods will win his third playoffs title, and it won’t be for reasons that require a calculator, ruler or encyclopedia. 

Just consider Woods’ track record on this year’s playoff venues. In two trips to Bethpage Black, he won the U.S. Open in 2002 and tied for sixth in the 2009 Open. Sure, those triumphs were with different swings, different bodies and different mental psyches. But there’s no disputing that when the man steps on the tee and looks out over that big, brawny course, he likes what he sees. 

The same goes for TPC Boston: T-2 in 2007, T-11 in both ’09 and ’10. The Tour hasn’t gone to Crooked Stick in more than two decades, so he’s at no disadvantage there, and with the FedEx Cup and Player of the Year honors on the line at East Lake, do you really think he’ll play poorly there? Not a chance. Finally, determining the winner this year requires logic, not strenuous math.