Day returns to defend Barclays crown as FedEx Cup play-offs begin


The quest for the lucrative $10million bonus cheque gets under way in the first of four FedEx Cup events this week.

Headlined by world number one and defending Barclays champion Jason Day, as well as FedEx Cup title holder Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, the top 125 in the points standings on the PGA Tour following the Wyndham Championship will descend on New York, starting Thursday.

The Barclays will see 25 players culled as the FedEx Cup play-offs eventually dwindles down to the top 30 at the Tour Championship.

Day is the points leader, ahead of Johnson, Adam Scott, Russell Knox and Spieth, with McIlroy 35th in the standings.


While he has not won since May, Day is perfectly positioned. Despite not playing since finished second at the US PGA Championship, the Australian tops the FedEx Cup standings with 2,735 points, 34 clear of Johnson. 

The 28-year-old - refreshed having missed the Wyndham Championship and bypassed the Olympic Games - has three PGA Tour victories to his name this season and having won last year at The Barclays, back-to-back titles could be on the cards.


"The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly-skilled golfers". Before you even hit the course, you know you are in for a big day. Playing at a mammoth 7,468 yards with a par of 71, the Bethpage State Park's famed Black Course - which hosted The Barclays in in 2012 - is intimidating and forces players to strive for perfection from the tee. As for the weather, it is expected to be dry all week.



It has been a season of ups and downs for both Spieth and McIlroy. While he has two wins to his name at the Tournament of Champions and Dean & Deluca Invitational, Spieth would be the first to admit 2016 has not totally gone according to plan, having only cracked the top 10 of a major once.

Finishing tied for second at The Masters was his best performance after T37 at the U.S. Open, T30 at The Open and T13 at the US PGA Championship. The 23-year-old American has shown glimpses but consistency has been his biggest problem.

McIlroy is still searching for his first PGA Tour victory of the season, having missed the cut at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. The Northern Irishman's share of third place at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March remains his best return so far, though he did take out the Irish Open via the European Tour.



To The Barclays in New Jersey last year, when Day romped to victory in the first event of the FedEx Cup play-offs. Day carded a bogey-free final-round 62 to finish six shots clear of Henrik Stenson. 


Of the past three winners, two have come from Australia via Day and Adam Scott. While an American - Hunter Mahan - reigned supreme in 2014, Day and Stuart Appleby finished in a three-way tie for second.


As Day tries to pip Johnson to the Player of the Year award, he said: "I'm playing good and he's nibbling at my heels - it's like, 'Why can't you give me a break?'. It's good. It's pushing me further to work harder. Because I know that it would be great to be able to sit back one day and look at it and go, back in 2016, I was Player of the Year.

"Out of everyone that has played golf, that's pretty special to be able to hold that. So that is a bit of a motivating factor, knowing that, okay, I need to have a good finish here. I would love to win the FedEx Cup. Obviously that's huge for me.

A buoyant Spieth told reporters: "I have the potential to play my best golf of the year yet to come in these next five, six weeks, so I may as well grind and do what I can to make that a reality."

McIlroy added: "It's a great format. It offers guys like myself that aren't right up there a chance to play well when it matters. As I said, that's what it's all about."