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FedEx Cup Playoffs preview: The Barclays

Preview — PGA Tour – FedEx Cup Playoffs –The Barclays – Ridgewood Country Club – Paramus, New Jersey –

The FedEx Cup Playoffs have arrived with a field of 125 vying for opportunities to advance into the TOUR Championship at East Lake in a month.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy headlines the competition coming in with three straight victories including a pair of major championships. Rickie Fowler enters the week with momentum and close-call finishes behind Rory.

But for the 125 players who qualified through the year-long FedEx Cup Standings, the four-tournament series with progressive field cuts with the ultimate prize comes down to an opportunity to be crowned FedEx Cup Champion joining past champions Henrik Stenson, Brandt Snedeker, Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Bill Haas.

Last year, the field opened the Playoffs at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City. This time New Jersey hosts again but at Ridgewood Country Club.

Although Tiger Woods failed to qualify, the field features all of the major champions including Masters champ Bubba Watson, McIlroy and U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer. Jimmy Walker, who has three victories this season, enters second in the FedEx Cup standings behind Rory.

Players are competing to earn points and stay alive in the playoffs. Only the Top 100 advance to next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston. Steve Stricker will not be one to advance. The veteran is shutting down his game to rest his body for the remainder of the year.

2013 Recap:

  • Scott (11-under) won the title at Liberty National using a final-round 66 to edge Woods, Gary Woodland, Justin Rose and Graham DeLaet by a shot. Woodland opened with round of 69-64-68 but a final day 73 cost him. Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson and D.A. Points finished T-6, while Fowler, Matt Every, Jason Kokrak and Nick Watney logged Top 10s.

The Golf Channel has exclusive television coverage Thursday and Friday for the opening rounds of play, and handles early coverage on the weekend with NBC Sports bringing home the leaders Saturday and Sunday.

FANTASY: Fowler has seven Top 10s this season and enters as the second hottest player in the field behind McIlroy with Top 3 finishes in the majors and a T-8 at Firestone for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. With 75 Americans in the field, you will certainly need at least one for your fantasy team, so consider Furyk — a FedEx Cup guru. He plays well this time of year and is second on tour in Proximity to the Hole, while being first in Scrambling. Scott, second in the world ranking, was T-9 at Ridgewood in 2010 and enters with six straight Top 15s on the season. Take Mickelson to keep up his momentum after a runner-up at the PGA Championship.

BETTORS: At 4-to-1 odds at Ladbrokes, Rory is the overall betting favorite but this course might not suit him. Plus, he is coming off a run of media tours that has certainly disrupted his usual pre-tournament routine. If his streak of hot play with driver and putter has ended, look for Fowler at 20-1 odds this week. Sergio Garcia (20-1) lost at Ridgewood in a playoff here in 2008. The World No. 4 also has three runner-up efforts in his last five worldwide starts. For a longer shot, take a flier on Ryan Moore (66-1) at Ridgewood. The course should fit his classic style of play. Take Stenson (16-1). He is making just his 13th start. He is fresh and rounding into form. He came up just short at Valhalla behind Rory and had a chance to win it.

Other Golf News:

  • The LPGA Tour’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open tees off Thursday. Lydia Ko, the Rolex Ranking No. 3, is the defending champion at the event. Coming off her major playoff victory at the Wegmans, Inbee Park is the favorite at 5-1 odds, according to www.skybet.com. 
  • The PGA Fashion and Demo Experience Show takes place in Las Vegas this week featuring the game’s hottest companies in design and fashion. Thousand of buyers, PGA professionals, manufacturers and industry leaders are highlighting the newest trends in golf apparel and accessories. The latest in golf equipment from Nike, Cobra-Puma, PING, Callaway and TaylorMade-adidas are all showcased. The event also features an education conference component with National Retail Federation representatives. Featured companies include Under Armour, New Balance, ECCO, Cutter & Buck, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
  • Singh is a four-time champion of The Barclays including 2006 and 2008. He is the field this week qualifying again for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. At age 51, he is the oldest player in the field.
  • The European Tour bounces back to a full-field event with the D&D Real Czech Masters. Jamie Donaldson, 28th in the world rankings, is listed as betting co-favorite at 10-1 odds along with Bernd Wiesberger and Joost Luiten.
  • The Champions Tour hosts the Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie this week. Charles Schwab Cup standings leader Bernhard Langer is the top pick at ladbrokes.com at 2-1 odds.
  • Arnold Palmer is recovering from surgery in Pittsburgh. He had a pacemaker impacted to help with an abnormal heartbeat.