News & ToursSeptember 8, 2014

7 things you need to know after Week 3 of the FedEx Cup Playoffs

With the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs complete, here's what you need to know heading into the final week:

BEST-TIMED BEST TOURNAMENT EVER

Billy Horschel nearly claimed this category last week until a chunked approach on the final hole of the Deutsche Bank Championship dropped him to T-2. But what a way to bounce back. The 27-year-old Horschel picked up his biggest PGA Tour title at the BMW Championship and is now in great shape to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus. "If I were a betting man, I'd put a little money on me." OK, so he wins for most confident player right now as well.

Related: Why Morgan Hoffmann is a 4,000-to-1 Tour Championship long shot

MOST OPPORTUNISTIC

Playing with nothing to lose on the weekend, Morgan Hoffmann shot 62-63 to beat everyone at Cherry Hills by six shots over the final two rounds. According to PGATour.com's Sean Martin, Hoffmann, who began the playoffs ranked 124th of 125 players, is the first golfer to play himself inside the cut line at each of the first three FedEx Cup Playoff events. The 25-year-old Oklahoma State product will play in the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time.

blog-morgan-hoffmann-0908.jpg

MOST EXPENSIVE SHOT

With a chance to catch Horschel on the penultimate hole, Sergio Garcia curiously laid up instead of going for the green in two on the par 5. Things got even crazier from there. Garcia missed the green with a lob wedge third shot and then inexplicably thinned a chip into the water with his fourth. His resulting triple bogey dropped him to T-4 and kept him from moving into the top five of the FedEx Cup standings, which gives players a huge leg up on winning the $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship.

MOST EXPENSIVE PENALTY

Keegan Bradley withdrew Saturday amid self doubt that he had taken a proper drop on his final hole Thursday when his ball ended up imbedded in its own pitch mark. A player is awarded free relief in that situation, but a fan informed Bradley his ball had actually bounced first, which changes things. Rules officials cleared Bradley of any wrongdoing, and he played Friday, but he decided to pull out since the circumstances were "eating me alive." Bradley forfeited any possible earnings from this tournament and a lot of potential bonus money from making the Tour Championship (at least an extra $300,000) since he fell out of the top 30 on the points list.

BIGGEST NAMES NOT MOVING ON

Bradley's buddy, Phil Mickelson, was another player who managed to not play the weekend at the BMW Championship even though there wasn't a cut. After two rough days, the five-time major champion withdrew to "prepare for the Ryder Cup," ending his streak of qualifying for the Tour Championship at seven years. Mickelson had been vocal about his displeasure with the lack of a week off during the playoffs, but he won't be playing four straight weeks after all. Hunter Mahan is now the only player to have made it to Atlanta every year since the FedEx Cup's inception in 2007. And speaking of odd playoff stats, Henrik Stenson continued the FedEx Cup champ jinx by becoming the sixth previous winner (out of seven) to not make it back to the Tour Championship the following year.

Related: The top 10 earners in FedEx Cup history

CRAZIEST "THAT'S SOOOO FEDEX CUP" MOMENT Despite not playing in any of the three FedEx Cup Playoff events -- or any tournament since the RBC Canadian Open in July -- Dustin Johnson remained in the top 30 on the points list to qualify for the Tour Championship. Johnson, of course, is on a "voluntary leave of absence" from the tour, but for some reason, his spot in next week's field isn't going to No. 31 on the list. Sorry, Stuart Appleby.

NEXT UP

The top 30 players -- minus Dustin Johnson -- head to Atlanta for the Tour Championship. The top five on that list -- Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan -- are guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus if they win at East Lake Golf Club. No pressure, guys!

Follow @AlexMyers3

More from The Loop