The Barclays experts' picks

August, 19, 2013

Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Barclays at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Ian Poulter. Honestly, there's no such thing as a horse this week because it's almost a new course. New York, however, is an Ian Poulter kind of town. I'm giving him the nod this week because Poulter finished ninth the last time we were here, and knowing the kind of shopping damage he could do on his wallet this week on Fifth Avenue, he has to play well to break even.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Henrik Stenson. At almost 7,500 yards, Liberty National would appear to favor a long hitter, but in 2009 the diminutive Heath Slocum was the surprise winner. This challenging layout will force players to hit it both long and straight. In 2013, a resurgent Stenson ranked sixth in driving accuracy while averaging 290 yards off the tee. Coming into The Barclays, the 37-year-old Swede is ninth in FedEx Cup points after six top-10s, including a second at the Open Championship and a third at the PGA.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Tiger Woods. Snickers aside, Woods tied for second at Liberty National in 2009, a venue he was not enamored with but one that has had several tweaks since The Barclays was last played there.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Tiger Woods. Well, this Liberty National course is more like version 2.0 with the changes it's undergone, so I'm not sure anyone qualifies for this category. But going back to 2009 when The Barclays was held here, Woods did finish a shot outside of a playoff.

Birdie Buster

Collins: Dustin Johnson. What better engagement present for Paulina than a top-5 finish at The Barclays? It also doesn't hurt that he hasn't missed a cut since the Memorial and his last start was an eighth-place finish at the PGA Championship. DJ won The Barclays in 2011 after an earthquake early in the week, and then the event was shortened to 54 holes because of Hurricane Irene.

Evans: Jordan Spieth. Making his first career start in the FedEx Cup playoffs, the 20-year-old Dallas native is coming off a playoff loss at the Wyndham Championship, where he shot 65 in the final round. Come next month at the Tour Championship, don't be surprised to see him contending on Sunday afternoon for the $10 million playoff series first prize.

Harig: Jordan Spieth. He started the year with no status on any tour and begins the FedEx Cup playoffs at eighth in the standings after a win in July and a playoff loss on Sunday.

Maguire: Jordan Spieth. It's simply amazing that a kid -- well, he is only 20 -- who started the year just looking to get into pro events, now looks like he'll be headed to the Tour Championship. Even though he didn't come away with a second victory Sunday at the Wyndham Championship, it wouldn't be a shocker to see the Texan contend this week.

Super Sleeper

Collins: Brian Harman. In 2009 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, then-rookie Harman told me, "To get me off this tour they're gonna have to drag me kicking and screaming. I am never going back to the minor leagues!" The dreaded sophomore slump almost did just that. But a solid finish at Wyndham locked up a spot this week, and look for the good play to continue -- maybe even into the Tour Championship.

Evans: Brian Harman. At the Wyndham, the 26-year-old second-year tour player out of the University of Georgia had a tie for third, his career-best finish. The Savannah native is a very confident young man, eager to join his former Bulldog teammates (Patrick Reed, Russell Henley and Harris English) in the winner's circle in 2013.

Harig: Patrick Reed. Few players win back-to-back, especially young ones, and Reed is likely just happy to be here. But he's playing nicely and can wrap up a spot in the Tour Championship – which comes with all manner of perks – if he can have a good week.

Maguire: Morgan Hoffman. In the 2009 version of this event held in Jersey City, it was a super sleeper -- Heath Slocum -- who pulled out the victory. Watch Hoffman, an Oklahoma State grad, make some noise this week.


Collins: Tiger Woods. He finished second in 2009 and didn't even like the course back then, joking, "Maybe Tom (Kite) designed this before his laser eye surgery?" That's funny, I don't care what you say! Now that the course has been "softened" a bit, he'll play golf as he has in every other tournament that wasn't a major ... amazingly. Expect him to miss some fairways, but the rough won't be ridiculous and everyone, including Tiger, will struggle with the new greens. That being said, this should wrap up Player of the Year honors for him when he's holding that trophy Sunday night.

Evans: Tiger Woods. In 2009, the 14-time major champion finished in a four-way tie for second at Liberty National. Tiger had two 67s on the weekend, but he came up a shot short of matching Heath Slocum's 9 under winning total. This time he will prevail at the quirky par-71 course designed by Tom Kite and Bob Cupp.

Harig: Webb Simpson. The 2012 U.S. Open champion hasn't won this year, but he contended at The Barclays four years ago and seems to be finding his game of late. At 17th in the FedEx Cup standings, Simpson could take over the top spot with a victory, depending on other factors.

Maguire: Jason Day. The Aussie owns six top-10 finishes and is coming off a T-8 at the PGA Championship. He's never won a playoff event, but expect that streak to end this week.




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