With the U.S. Open and the USGA’s seemingly annual set-up snafu having come and gone, there are only two months and 11 tournaments left in the 2017-18 PGA Tour season before the FedExCup Playoffs begin in August.
Currently there are six PGA Tour members with Georgia ties among the top 30 on the points list, with six more in the top 70 and a total of 21 in the top 125, the cutoff for qualification for the first Playoffs event in New Jersey.
The Playoffs begin at Ridgewood CC August 23-26, before moving to Boston (possibly for the last time) Aug. 31-Sept. 3. Aronimink in Philadelphia will host the third Playoffs event Sept. 6-9, with the Tour Championship set for Sept. 20-23.
Patrick Reed, who led Augusta State to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2010 and ’11, leads the Georgia contingent at No. 6 after his fourth place finish last week at Shinnecock Hills. After failing to record a top-10 finish in his first 15 major championship starts (but six top 25s), Reed has placed fourth, first and second in his last three Grand Slams, highlighted by his impressive final round effort in the 2018 Masters.
Reed, who has qualified for the Tour Championship at East Lake in each of his first four seasons on tour, is headed for a fifth straight appearance. He recorded six straight top 10s in a two-month stretch beginning with a runner-up finish in Tampa, with his strong effort in the U.S. Open his seventh top 10 in his last nine events. He briefly pulled even with eventual champion Brooks Koepka after beginning his final round at Shinnecock with five birdies in his first seven holes, but could not maintain that pace and settled for a 68 to end up three behind the winner.
St. Simons Island resident Patton Kizzire remains eighth after winning two of the first 10 tournaments on the 2017-18 schedule, but has done little since other than a T12 in the WGC event in Mexico. In his last eight starts, Kizzire has missed six cuts and does not have a finish higher than 64th. Kizzire is looking to qualify for the Tour Championship for the first time in his third season on tour.
Thanks to victories in Los Angeles and the Match Play Championship, Bubba Watson has reclaimed his status as one of the tour’s elite players following an unproductive 2016-17 season. The former Georgia Bulldog is 10th in the current FedExCup standings. Since a T5 in the Masters however, it’s been a quiet two months for Watson, who made it to East Lake seven times in nine years before missing out in 2017.
Former Georgia Tech golfer Chesson Hadley has enjoyed an outstanding season after losing his exempt PGA Tour status for the 2016-17 season, and is 18th on the points list after beginning the season with consecutive finishes of third, second and fourth. Hadley has added three more top 10s and a total of eight top 20s since, seven of them in succession, as he looks to end his season in the city where he attended college.
At the age of 33, Luke List is experiencing a breakout season in his fourth year in tour, recording four top 10s in 2018, all in Florida or the Carolinas. The long-hitting List (fourth in driving distance at 314.5 yards) grew up in north Georgia and lost a playoff in the Georgia Open in 2007 at the outset of his career as a tour pro, with a playoff loss to Justin Thomas in the Honda Classic starting a strong run earlier this year. He has struggled of late, missing the cut in both the Players and U.S Open, but is still 19th on the points list.
Savannah native Brian Harman qualified for the Tour Championship last year for the first time in his sixth season on tour, and is in position to return, standing 25th in points. Harman began the 2017-18 schedule with five straight top 10s, and added two more in WGC events early in 20018. The ex-Georgia Bulldog and St. Simons resident has hit a few bumps of late, with a handful of poor rounds keeping him off leader boards.
Augusta native Charles Howell qualified for the Tour Championship four times in six years early in his career, but has made it to East Lake just once since 2007, that coming seven years ago. At 33 in the FedExCup standings, Howell is in position to make another run at a top-30 finish. Howell is putting together another extremely consistent season, with 13 finishes of 26th or better in 21 starts, including a T25 last week in the U.S Open. But he still hasn’t had that big week, with a tie for sixth in San Diego his best finish. In his 19th season on tour, Howell has just two victories, the last coming in 2007.
Other than a runner-up finish to Watson in the Match Play and a T7 at Hilton Head, former UGA golfer Kevin Kisner has not had his best season, and will have to pick up the pace if he hopes to make it to East Lake for a fourth straight year. Kisner’s ball striking stats have been sub-par this season, and he is coming off missed cuts in both the Players and U/S. Open.
Chris Kirk, Kisner’s teammate on Georgia’s 2005 NCAA Championship team, has enjoyed a solid season with seven top 15s, including a recent T6 in Memphis. Kirk, a Woodstock native and Athens resident, is looking to make it to East Lake for the second time in his eighth season on tour, and is playing well enough to make that a realistic hope.
St. Simons resident Zach Johnson has been a regular in the Tour Championship, qualifying nine times since 2004 and setting the course record at East Lake with a 60 in 2007. But Johnson was absent from the field the last two years and will need to go some to earn a 10th start this season. He has 10 finishes of 26th or better this season, but his only top 10s have come on his home course (Sea Island GC’s Seaside) and in an event where he has two career wins (Texas Open). He is 52nd in the FedExCup standings with just one missed cut in 17 starts.
Fellow St. Simons resident Matt Kuchar has competed at East Lake each of the last eight years, but his streak is in jeopardy, as he is just 68th in points in what has been an off season. Kuchar has played respectably with only two missed cuts and a number of decent finishes, but the former Georgia Tech standout has managed just three top 10s, only two in stroke play events, and is coming off his second missed cut last week at Shinnecock.
Recent UGA golfer Keith Mitchell is enjoying a successful rookie season (70th in points) highlighted by a runner-up finish in the opposite field event in the Dominican Republic and a pair of top 10s in Houston and Dallas. Mitchell, who was born and raised in Chattanooga and lives on St. Simons , is among the top 10 in driving distance, but his stats in other aspects of the game are lacking.
Despite failing to retain his exempt status after his rookie season in 2016-17, St. Simons resident Trey Mullinax has played well enough to lock up his card for 2018-19, standing 72nd in the FedEXCup. A tie for second in the Texas Open is one of three top 10s for the former Alabama standout, who leads the PGA Tour in driving distance with an average of 318 yards. He struggled some after the strong showing in San Antonio, but was T6 in Memphis the week before the U.S. Open.
Recent Georgia Tech golfer Ollie Schniederjans played well early in his sophomore season on tour, but after a tie for third in Phoenix on Super Bowl Sunday, has not had a finish better than 36th. Before missing the cut last week in the U.S. Open, Schniederjans had made nine straight cuts, but has not posted a score lower than 68 since a final round 65 in Phoenix. Schniederjans, who grew up in Powder Springs, has been steadily falling in the FedExCup standings and is currently 80th.
Macon native and former Georgia Bulldog Russell Henley made it to East Lake twice in his first five years on tour, but has not had an especially successful season thus far. A tie for eighth in Houston, where he was defending champion, is his only top 10, but he was T15 the next week in the Masters and was among the early leaders in the U.S. Open, finishing T25. Some shaky play around the greens has been among the reasons for Henley’s relative struggles that have him at 90th on the points list.
With seven top-25 finishes, including his two most recent starts in Ft. Worth and Memphis, Augusta’s Vaughn Taylor has enjoyed a consistent season and is 95th in points. Taylor was a non-exempt from 2013-15, but revived his career with a surprise win at Pebble Beach in 2016, and in his early 40s is looking to extend a PGA Tour career that began in 2004.
Duluth resident and former Georgia Tech golfer Stewart Cink is coming off his best showing in a tournament since his 2008 British Open triumph, tying for fourth recently in Memphis. At the age of 45 in his 22nd season, Cink remains one of the best iron players on tour. But his short game is not what it once was, with the last of his eight Tour Championship appearances coming in 2009. His T4 in Memphis is his only finish better than 20th since his first start of the season in Malaysia, and Cink is 103 in points.
J.T. Poston, like Mullinax a second year, non-exempt player who lives on St. Simons Island, is 105 thanks to an early tie for fourth in Las Vegas and a recent stretch in which he shot in the 60s ten times in a span of 12 rounds to record three straight finishes between 18th and 26th.
After four straight excellent seasons in which he finished no lower than 42nd in the final regular season FedExCup standings, ex-UGA golfer Harris English narrowly retained his exempt status after the 2016-17 season and is in a similar situation this year at 109. English, a native of Valdosta who lives on St, Simons, has a handful of top finishes this season, but missed his first five cuts in 2017-18 and has missed four of his last five.
Augusta native Scott Brown had finishes of T5 and T6 last fall, but other than a T23 in the Players, has not finished higher than 46th in an individual event in 2018. He is 112 in points.
After a string of missed cuts and finishes well down the list, recent Georgia Tech golfer Richy Werenski has played well of late, including a top-25 in the Players ad a tie for fourth in Memphis. The second-year PGA Tour pro has moved into the top 125 at 115.
Among those outside the top 125 are St. Simons resident Michael Thompson (146); Augusta resident Wesley Bryan (147), who won on Hilton Head in 2017; former Georgia Bulldog and St. Simons resident Hudson Swafford (157), also a 2017 winner; PGA Tour veteran Jonathan Byrd (182) of St. Simons; Georgia Tech’s Cameron Tringale (186); long-time St. Simons resident Davis Love (204), who has made just eight PGA Tour starts in 2017-18; ex-Georgia Tech golfer Troy Matteson (213), whose tie for 19th in the Dominican Republic was his best showing in several years; St. Simons resident Rick Lamb (234).; and Acworth resident Jason Bohn, who has not made a cut in any of his five starts this season.