Monday 5 August 2019 6:04 pm

$15m FedEx Cup play-offs offer Tommy Fleetwood chance to go one better than his runner-up finish at The Open

With a $15m top prize for the winner, the FedEx Cup play-offs, which begin this week at the Northern Trust and conclude with the Tour Championship later this month, have become a huge event in the golf calendar.

The format of the competition doesn’t always make it easy to follow but the rewards on offer ensure top quality fields for the three play-off events which represent the climax to the PGA Tour season. So let’s sit back and enjoy it.

World No1 Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy occupy the top places in the FedEx Cup standings and there’s an intriguing battle in prospect between those two.

Read more: Sam Torrance on Shane Lowry’s Open triumph

US PGA champion Koepka is in the strongest shape while McIlroy has also had a fantastic year albeit without ending his wait for another Major title.

For others, the play-offs offer a chance to end the season on a high note.

Justin Rose won the FedEx Cup last year and repeating that feat would be a great way to finish 2018-19; Tiger Woods will hope to reach the Tour Championship and defend the crown he won so memorably in 2018; Francesco Molinari has done nothing since his final-round collapse at the Masters, which is a shame; Dustin Johnson has had a so-so year by his very high standards.

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - JULY 28: Brooks Koepka plays a shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind on July 28, 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Koepka is the man to beat as the FedEx Cup enters the play-off stage. Credit: Getty

I fancy Tommy Fleetwood to be bursting to do something this week, having gone so close at The Open last time out.

He was also runner-up at the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills which, like this week’s tournament at Liberty National, was held a stone’s throw from New York City.

Open winner Shane Lowry, meanwhile, has had time for partying and reflection and he’ll now be excited to get back to work as a Major champion.

Poston’s breakthrough

Playing in your local area can go one of two ways: the presence of friends, family and supporters everywhere you look can create extra pressure, or the whole experience can spur you on.

GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 04: J.T. Poston celebrates with the trophy after winning the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 04, 2019 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images)
Poston became the first player for 45 years to win a PGA Tour event without dropping a shot. Credit: Getty

For 26-year-old JT Poston, who landed his first win on the PGA Tour at the Wyndham Championship on Sunday in his native North Carolina, it was certainly the latter.

And if that wasn’t special enough, Poston did so without dropping a shot, becoming the first man to go bogey-free on his way to a PGA Tour title since the great Lee Trevino in 1974. What a way to make your breakthrough.

A new star emerges

WOBURN, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04:  Hinako Shibuno of Japan holes the winning putt on the 18th green during Day Four of the AIG Women's British Open at Woburn Golf Club on August 04, 2019 in Woburn, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Shibuno won her first Major at the first attempts at last week’s Women’s British Open. Credit: Getty

England’s Georgia Hall couldn’t defend her title at the Women’s British Open but the event did see the emergence of another exciting new talent in Hinako Shibuno.

Read more: Koepka shows why he’s world No1

Despite this being her first Major and her first tournament outside of her native Japan, the 20-year-old saw off more experienced rivals with an incredible back nine of 31. Well done to her.

Goodbye, Gordon

Finally, I was deeply saddened by the passing of Gordon Brand Jnr last week.

We spent 40 years on tour together and he became one of my dearest friends. Rest in peace, Gordon.

Main image credit: Getty