The Five: Biggest stories to follow heading into the FedExCup Playoffs

As the anticipation mounts for the commencement of the FedExCup Playoffs, a flurry of narratives have emerged that demand attention. The stage is set for a battle among golf's finest, where victory not only signifies triumph but also hinges on timely brilliance—a theme reminiscent of playoff intensity in various sports.

Here are five pivotal stories to grasp before the FedExCup Playoffs launch at the FedEx St. Jude Championship:

  1. A New Trio of Dominance
    Unquestionably, the world's top three players—Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, and Rory McIlroy—have firmly entrenched themselves as the pinnacle talents. With a seamless blend of remarkable performances and consistent excellence, they stand atop both the FedExCup standings and the Official World Golf Ranking. The order may fluctuate between lists, but their prowess remains unwavering. Rahm's four victories this season, including a Masters triumph, places him in a league of his own. Scheffler boasts two wins, one being THE PLAYERS Championship, and an astonishing streak of 18 consecutive finishes within the top 12. McIlroy, a two-time winner this season, recently claimed the Genesis Scottish Open with a dramatic finish.

  2. Change in Putting Approach
    The imminent Playoffs see an intriguing development in the putting departments of McIlroy and Scheffler. Both have been experimenting with new putters, signaling a quest for renewed success on the greens. McIlroy's shift to a Scotty Cameron Phantom X 5.5 putter presents a fresh perspective, potentially leading to mid-tournament shifts if the adjustment proves unsatisfactory. Scheffler, a loyalist to blade-style putters, has transitioned to a TaylorMade Spider mallet putter for enhanced feel and alignment. These alterations could have a significant impact on their Playoffs performance.

  3. Dramatic Rankings Shifts
    A year can dramatically alter fortunes, as evident in the rankings of players like Rickie Fowler and Harris English. Fowler's remarkable ascent from barely making last year's Playoffs to a comfortable ninth place this year underscores his resurgence. His victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic after a four-year drought has been instrumental in his climb. Similarly, English, who languished at 198th last year, has surged due to strong showings this season, highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

  4. Pivotal for Top 50
    The quest to break into the top 50 standings is a significant subplot, as it guarantees participation in the BMW Championship and key Signature Events in 2024. Players like Nick Hardy, who sits at No. 50, are aiming for this crucial leap. Lucas Glover's recent win at the Wyndham Championship catapulted him from 112th to 49th, securing a path to both the BMW Championship and a return to Olympia Fields Country Club. Reigning Rookie of the Year Cameron Young, currently 48th, also seeks to consolidate his position.

  5. Challenges of TPC Southwind
    TPC Southwind's characteristics promise formidable challenges for players. Recent heavy rainfall may have softened the course, but its history of water balls—no other course has seen as many—still underscores the difficulty. Additionally, the lush Bermudagrass flourishes in the moist conditions, resulting in thicker rough. Scheffler's observation about the course's punitive nature, especially for errant shots, rings true.

As the FedExCup Playoffs unfold, these storylines will shape the narrative of the tournament, adding layers of intrigue to an already exhilarating competition.