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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Experts' picks: The Barclays


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, the PGA Tour heads to Ridgewood Country Club for the the Barclays in Paramus, New Jersey.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Sergio Garcia
It's all but impossible to have this category for this event, because it's only the third time it's been played here. That being said, Garcia didn't play here in 2010, but in 2008, he finished runner-up to Vijay Singh, so he's got really good vibes here. That, along with this little nugget: Since the week before the Masters, Garcia's worst finish in a non-major on the PGA Tour has been third. (Yep, you're going to want to read that again.)

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Kevin Streelman
With a tie for fourth in 2008 and tie for third in 2010 in the Barclays held at Ridgewood Country Club, the 35-year-old two-time winner has the best cumulative record for the event at the A.W. Tillinghast design.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Matt Kuchar
He was the last to win at Ridgewood in 2010, beating Martin Laird in a playoff and getting on a run that continues to this day.


Birdie Buster

Collins: Rory McIlroy
No way he can win four in a row, right? A win this week would give him a winning percentage of 28.5 for the year, better than the 2001-2003 stretch for ... you know (blasphemy to Tiger Woods lovers). Yep, start typing, knuckleheads, but first go back to Tiger's 2002 season where he had five wins (including two majors) and then tell me how different the stats are. Fact is, Rory's worst finish this year on the PGA Tour is 25th, so a top-three this week isn't a stretch.

Evans: Nick Watney
In the midst of swing changes with his new teacher, Todd Anderson, the 33-year-old five-time PGA Tour winner has had a mostly inconsistent year. But he's had top 10s in two of his last three starts, including a tie for fifth last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Harig: Rory McIlroy
Who else? Even after a week off, he comes into the first playoff event as the hottest player, having won his past three starts. Does a hangover set in, or does he carry on?


Super Sleeper

Collins: Paul Casey
Talk about having your game come around at just the right time. It's been a long, tough road back for the Englishman. Not a bad year by many standards (11-for-15 cuts made with eight top-25s), but disappointing for a guy who was expected to win multiple times on the PGA Tour. Still, with all the injuries he's battled, just making it to the playoffs this year is an accomplishment. Now it's on to the Deutsche Bank Championship after this top-10 finish.

Evans: Kevin Na
The 30-year-old South Korean hasn't had a top-10 since he lost a playoff in June at the Memorial, but he is pumped up this week because with high finishes over the next two events, he could put his name into consideration for one of Tom Watson's three captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Harig: Paul Casey
The Englishman was on the bubble heading into the Wyndham and managed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs after a nice year that saw him regain form. He'll need another strong week to advance to the Deutsche Bank Championship.


Winner

Collins: Jim Furyk
Remember in 2010 when he was DQ'd from the tournament for missing his pro-am tee time? That was at this course. Now he comes back as the guy who seemingly just needs a good back nine on Sunday to get his first win of 2014. He's won the FedEx Cup once before, and this will be a great start to going after Cup No. 2.

Evans: Rory McIlroy
Looking for his fourth consecutive victory, the 25-year-old has been run through the media gantlet with several high-profile appearances in New York. So, perhaps he is a little tired coming into this first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Until someone beats him, it's hard not to pick him to win.

Harig: Nick Watney
That sting from that final drive at the Wyndham is unlikely to go away anytime soon, but Watney has played very well of late, with top-10s in four of his last five tournaments. Could a victory get him on Tom Watson's Ryder Cup radar?