Of the 120 players competing in this week’s FedExCup Playoffs opener in suburban New York, 19 have ties to Georgia. Of those 19, six begin the Playoffs inside the top 30, with five others 50th or better.
The top 30 players after Playoffs events in New York, Boston and Chicago will compete in the Tour Championship at East Lake Sept. 21-24. The fields will be reduced to 100 players for next week’s event in Boston, and to 70 for the tournament in Chicago Sept. 14-17.
A look at the Georgians in the field this week with FedExCup rank in parenthesis:
Kevin Kisner (9), UGA: Looking for a third straight trip to East Lake after another strong season. Won Colonial, T2 ay Bay Hill and lost in a playoff with Aiken, S.C., neighbor Scott Brown in the team event in New Orleans. Led most of the way in the PGA before dropping to T7 with late fade. Excellent stats across the board explain why he has been so successful of late.
Brian Harman (10), Savannah native, UGA, St. Simons resident: Has enjoyed his best season with a win in the Wells Fargo and impressive runner-up showing in U.S. Open. Been among the top putters on the PGA Tour and scrambled well, offsetting below average tee-to-green game. Qualified for the Tour Championship in 2014.
Matt Kuchar (15), Georgia Tech, St. Simons resident: Has enjoyed another consistent, productive season, especially in majors with T4 in Masters and outstanding runner-up showing in British Open. Tenth in scoring, thanks in part to excellent scrambling stats. Shooting for eighth straight start at East Lake.
Russell Henley (19), Macon native, UGA: Played way into Masters with third career win in Houston and T11 finish in Augusta the next week locked up a return invite. Has had a solid season statistically except for scrambling. Made a run at qualifying for Tour Championship his first three seasons on tour, making it to East Lake in 2014.
Charles Howell (21), Augusta native: Runner-up finishes in San Diego and D.C. (where he lost in a playoff) have made up for 2 ½ month absence with neck injury. Has missed a lot of fairways, but played well in other aspects. Has finished in the top 70 in points every season since ’08, but only qualified for Tour Championship once in that span.
Wesley Bryan (27), Augusta resident: After earning Player of the Year honors as a rookie on Web.com Tour last year, has smoothly transitioned to first season on PGA Tour with a win in Hilton Head and several other top 10s. Quality putting has made up for poor driving stats.
Hudson Swafford (37), UGA, St. Simons resident: Collected first PGA Tour win in La Quinta, Calif., but has only appeared on leader boards a few times since. Drives it long and hits lots of greens, but putting stats not nearly as good. In fourth season on tour, this is his first time to make a run at qualifying for Tour Championship.
Patrick Reed (38), Augusta State: After a mostly sub-standard season, has made a strong move of late to make it to East Lake for a fourth straight year, tying for second in PGA Championship. Ball-striking stats are off, but putting numbers are much better. Was also winless going into playoffs last year before winning the opener at Bethpage Black.
Ollie Schniederjans (39), Powder Springs/Alpharetta, Georgia Tech: Got off to a strong start as PGA Tour rookie before hitting a spring/summer lull that ended with outstanding effort in Greensboro, finishing second by a shot to Henrik Stenson. Putting has held him back for most of year, but improvement on greens in Greensboro paved way to best showing of rookie season.
Zach Johnson (42), St. Simons resident: Player his best golf late in the season, tying for fifth in the John Deere, for 13th in the British Open and taking a solo second in the WGC events at Firestone. As usual hit lots of fairways, but was hurt by poor GIR stats. Has qualified for the Tour Championship nine times, including seven of nine times between 2007 and ’15.
Luke List (50), grew up in Atlanta area and North Georgia: Had best season of young PGA Tour career, ranking 3rd in driving distance, 22nd in GIR and 9th in birdies. Slowed down after fast start last Fall other than T3 in Houston.
Scott Brown (65), Augusta native: Only played well a handful of weeks all season, but T2 in LA and playoff loss in team event with Kevin Kisner enabled him to finish between 53 and 81 for fifth straight year. Recent T13 in PGA was best showing in several months.
Stewart Cink (76), Georgia Tech, Duluth resident: Had best season in years with consistent play from start to finish. Three ties for 10th were top finishes, but had nine top 25s and only five missed cuts in 23 starts. Ranks 171 in fairways hit but 31 in GIR.
Patton Kizzire (87), St. Simons resident: Started season with tie for 2nd in 2016-17 opener in Napa, Calif., but not much since. Kept card for second straight year despite mostly below average stats.
Chris Kirk (97), Woodstock native, UGA, Athens resident: Played well in the fall with three top 10s including T2 in Mississippi, but other than T12 in Players, did little in 2017. Made it to East Lake in 2014 and was 33rd or better at end of regular season three other times, but has struggled last two seasons.
Richy Werenski (108), Georgia Tech: Was on the verge of losing his tour card after rookie season, but finished strong over last five starts. Playoff loss in Reno improved ranking from 154 to 121, and closed out regular season with T10 in Greensboro to move up 13 more spots.
Bubba Watson (113), UGA: After 12 consecutive strong seasons, suffered through worst extended stretch of his career. Other than driving distance, stats reflect how poor his season was, most notably 180 in GIR. Five top 10 finishes on regular season points list produced five trips to East Lake between 2010 and ’15, but will probably need a Playoffs victory to return this year.
Harris English (114), South Georgia native, UGA, St. Simons resident. After four straight very successful seasons, dropped well down FedExCup standings, finishing near last in accuracy off the tee. Qualified for Tour Championship in 2015 after missing opportunities the previous two years, but unlikely to return next month.
Vaughn Taylor (124), Augusta native and resident, Augusta State: Spent almost the entire year between 100 and 120 in the standings, and barely stayed inside top 125 the final week. After surprise win at Pebble Beach in 2016, did not have a top 10 this season, but was among top 25 seven times. With 369 points, was five better than player who was 126th.
Among those who failed to finish among the top 125 to qualify for the playoffs is a trio of former Georgia Tech golfers with a combined 25 seasons on the PGA Tour.
After five straight finishes between 56 and 67 on the points list, Cameron Tringale slipped to 107 last year and was 133 this season. For the second time, Alpharetta’s Roberto Castro went from qualifying for the Tour Championship one year to dropping outside the top 125 the next, plummeting to 172nd this season. Bryce Molder has been exempt since 2009, but was a dismal 190th in 2016-17.
Tringale will have partial status for next year along with the other players between 126 and 150, but will need to finish among the top 25 in the Web.com Finals series of tournaments in September re regain his exempt status for 2017-18.
Also in the 126-150 were St. Simons residents J.T. Poston (132), Trey Mullinax (137), Michael Thompson (148) and Rick Lamb (150). Poston, Mullinax and Lamb were rookies this season, while Thompson may be eligible for a limited medical extension after missing the last seven weeks of the season.
Veterans and fellow St. Simons residents Jonathan Byrd (170) and Davis Love (185) were also well outside the top 125, Byrd split his time this season between the PGA and Web.com Tours , while Love has career exempt status on the PGA Tour while also being eligible for Champions Tour events.
Acworth’s Jason Bohn has been a PGA Tour member since 2004, but has not been the same player since suffering a heart attack during the Honda Classic in early 2016. After finishing 33rd in 2015, Boihn was 77th last season after an outstanding start in the fall but fell to 206th this year, missing 19 of 28 cuts including the last 10 in a row, with a season-best finish of 35th.