Golf Barometer: The Playoff Push

Golf Barometer: The Playoff Push

This article is part of our Golf Barometer series.

A pair of first-time PGA Tour champions emerged on the same day this past weekend as Abraham Ancer defeated Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns in a three-man playoff at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational before Erik van Rooyen landed atop the podium at the Barracuda Championship later that afternoon. The upcoming Wyndham Championship is the final opportunity to accumulate FedExCup points and solidify positioning inside the top-125 to qualify for the Northern Trust. We'll now take a look at a handful of players trending in value, along with a couple injury updates, as the playoffs loom in the near future.

VALUE RISING

Maverick McNealy

With four consecutive finishes of T21 or better from the Rocket Mortgage Classic through the Barracuda Championship, McNealy has now racked up 11 top-25 results on the season, which nearly doubles his total from a successful 2019-20 rookie campaign. He's also top-50 on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, birdie average, Prox: 150-175 yards and scrambling. The Stanford product will not be in the field for the Wyndham Championship as he currently resides 49th in the FedExCup standings and has earned a week of rest prior to the Northern Trust. 

Roger Sloan

At 131st in the FedExCup standings, the pressure is on for Sloan to perform this week in Greensboro. Fortunately for the Canadian, he's trending in the right direction with four finishes of T31 or better in five starts since the Rocket Mortgage Classic, including a solo-sixth last week at the Barracuda Championship. Sloan has placed top-40

A pair of first-time PGA Tour champions emerged on the same day this past weekend as Abraham Ancer defeated Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns in a three-man playoff at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational before Erik van Rooyen landed atop the podium at the Barracuda Championship later that afternoon. The upcoming Wyndham Championship is the final opportunity to accumulate FedExCup points and solidify positioning inside the top-125 to qualify for the Northern Trust. We'll now take a look at a handful of players trending in value, along with a couple injury updates, as the playoffs loom in the near future.

VALUE RISING

Maverick McNealy

With four consecutive finishes of T21 or better from the Rocket Mortgage Classic through the Barracuda Championship, McNealy has now racked up 11 top-25 results on the season, which nearly doubles his total from a successful 2019-20 rookie campaign. He's also top-50 on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, birdie average, Prox: 150-175 yards and scrambling. The Stanford product will not be in the field for the Wyndham Championship as he currently resides 49th in the FedExCup standings and has earned a week of rest prior to the Northern Trust. 

Roger Sloan

At 131st in the FedExCup standings, the pressure is on for Sloan to perform this week in Greensboro. Fortunately for the Canadian, he's trending in the right direction with four finishes of T31 or better in five starts since the Rocket Mortgage Classic, including a solo-sixth last week at the Barracuda Championship. Sloan has placed top-40 each of the past two years at Sedgefield Country Club, but he's now top-25 on Tour in GIR percentage and fifth in proximity from 50-125 yards.

Adam Schenk

Schenk set his personal single-season record for cuts made with his 21st of the 2020-21 campaign last week at the Barracuda Championship, where he amassed 23 total birdies and two eagles en route to a solo-fourth result. It marked his second fourth-place finish of the summer, having collected a T4 in July at the John Deere Classic before adding another top-15 at the Barbasol Championship. The flat stick is warming up for Schenk ahead of the playoffs, as he's gained an average of 3.1 strokes putting per event throughout his last four measured starts.

Patrick Rodgers

Rodgers missed the cut in five of seven starts from April's Valero Texas Open to the Memorial Tournament in early June, but he's since advanced to the weekend in eight consecutive showings from the Palmetto Championship through the Barracuda Championship where he tallied his fourth top-15 of the season. He's right near the FedExCup Playoffs bubble at 123rd heading into the Wyndham Championship, but Rodgers has made the cut in four straight Sedgefield CC appearances. Rodgers is fifth among the field in SG: Off-the-Tee over his last 12 rounds, while he's 16th on Tour in both putting from 10-15 feet and putting from 15-20 feet this season.

VALUE FALLING

Matt Kuchar

With his MC at the Barracuda Championship this past week, Kuchar has now missed the cut in four consecutive starts for the first time since 2008. The 43-year-old would likely slip outside the top-125 in the FedExCup standings and miss the playoffs if he's limited to just 36 holes again this week at the Wyndham. Kuchar is 125th in SG: Tee-to-Green through 53 measured rounds this season, notching only four top-25s in 23 events played.

Wyndham Clark

Speaking of Wyndham, Clark has descended to 178th in the Official World Golf Ranking with five straight missed cuts from the Memorial Tournament through the Barracuda Championship. His power off the tee won't be as advantageous at Sedgefield this week, and he's just 139th among the field in SG: Approach over his last 12 rounds. Clark hasn't finished on the positive side of SG: APP in a single event since early May's Valspar Championship.

Harry Higgs

Higgs' charismatic and engaging personality has allowed him to grow into a fan favorite this season, but since his T4 at the PGA Championship, he's underwhelmed with five missed cuts and a solo-68th in six starts. Over his past 12 measured rounds, Higgs is 127th or worse in SG: Approach and SG: Off-the-Tee compared to the rest of the Wyndham Championship field. On the season, he's 141st in scoring average, 156th in GIR percentage and 171st in driving accuracy.

Nate Lashley

Lashley has failed to record any top-25 finishes since his T5 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in mid-February, and he's recently missed three cuts in a row from the Rocket Mortgage Classic through the Barracuda Championship while falling to 127th in the FedExCup standings. His putting has been terrible since the beginning of May, losing 2.2 or more strokes with the flat stick in six straight measured starts from the Wells Fargo Championship to the 3M Open.

INJURY UPDATE

Garrick Higgo

Higgo unexpectedly withdrew prior to Sunday's final round at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, but he later revealed it was due to a stomach illness that was exacerbated by dehydration stemming from Memphis' heat and humidity. It's a smart call for Higgo to skip out on similar conditions in North Carolina this week, so he should be back at 100 percent for the upcoming Northern Trust. 

Vaughn Taylor

A lower back injury sent Taylor packing early at the 3M Open, but it was a rib injury that forced the 45-year-old to withdraw before his second round at last week's Barracuda Championship. At 148th in the FedExCup standings, he'll need the body to hold up this week in Greensboro if he's going to have any shot at making a late push for a playoff spot given the likelihood that he needs a top-4 finish in order to accrue enough points.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bryce Danielson
Bryce covers the PGA for RotoWire and provides input on the golf cheat sheet. He also contributes to the coverage for NFL, NBA and other sports.
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