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2017 FedEx Cup Playoffs Preview

The 2017 regular golfing season drew to a close on Sunday with Henrik Stenson’s one-stroke victory over Ollie Sneiderjans at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina.

This week starts the annual FedEx Cup Playoffs with The Northern Trust replacing The Barclays as the first of four events that will help determine the PGA Tour champion for 2017.

Playoff Schedule

The Northern Trust: Glen Oaks Club from Thursday, August 24th to Sunday, August 27th

Dell Technologies Championship: TPC Boston from Friday, September 1st to Monday, September 4th

BMW Championship: Conway Farms Golf Club from Thursday, September 14th to Sunday, September 17th

TOUR Championship: East Lake Golf Club from Thursday, September 21st to Sunday, September 24th

Check out the top-10 shots from the Playoff events over the years below:

Format

The four events will be played over the next five weeks and are each individually worth $8 million in prize money, giving a cumulative $32 million on offer throughout the events. A $10 million bonus will be paid to the player who has amassed the highest number of adjusted FedEx Cup points by the time we finish up at East Lake.

The top 125 players in the standings will tee it up in Old Westbury, New York this coming Thursday before the 25 at the bottom of the rankings are cut post-tournament. The second playoff event, the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston will, therefore, have a field of 100 players.

Next up is the BMW Championship in Chicago with a further reduced field as the top 70 golfers post-Boston will slug it out to secure a place at the Tour Championship finale. By the time we descend upon Atlanta, and the East Lake Golf Club, the field will have been reduced to the 30 golfers with the highest number of FedEx Cup points.

A reseeding will take place prior to the Tour Championship and each remaining player is allocated a number of points in line with their position in the standings. These points are then added to those gained during the tournament and the winner is, of course, the player with the highest total.

Who's our pick for FedEx Cup glory?

History has shown that almost any golfer who makes the final cut is in with a chance of taking home the lucrative prize for first place.

Last year, Rory McIlroy produced a dominant display to win the Tour Championship and, with it, the FedEx Cup. The Northern Irishman sits at a relatively lowly level of 44th thanks to a rather stop-start year and, as things stand, would miss out on a trip to East Lake. As with last year's late surge to the title, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Northern Irishman defy his troublesome rib injury and challenge at the head of affairs.

That's if he makes it beyond The Northern Trust this week.

Catch Rory's winning putt from last year's FedEx Cup Playoffs finale in Atlanta below:

There have been rather more ‘left-field’ winners in recent years. Billy Horschel, for example, took both the Tour Championship and Fed Ex Cup titles from a pre-playoff position of 69th in the initial standings.

The current FedEx Cup standings show Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama in pole position, while three major champions - Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson - lurk ominously within the top-5.

Let's pick a few guys to keep an eye on as we progress through the Playoff schedule:

The one to beat: Jordan Spieth

The Champion Golfer of the Year for 2017 is going to be firmly in the mix throughout the Playoffs. It seems impossible that four events could pass without the young Texan threatening and, although the points adjustment before the Tour Championship brings many golfers into the equation, he has the ultimate winning mentality.

A win this year would see Spieth crowned as only the second dual winner of the FedEx Cup joining Tiger Woods in the process.

Don't rule out: Marc Leishman

As a winner on Tour this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Marc Leishman has been playing some truly exceptional golf.

With four more top-five finishes during the 2016/17 season, it's quite likely that the Australian will perform well in the first three Playoff events and make it through to East Lake. From there, it's only 18 holes to possible FedEx Cup glory.

Possible Sleeper: Xander Schauffele

A rookie has never won the FedEx Cup in its nine editions so far and this year sees a cool dozen making the trip to New York for The Northern Trust.

If we were to consider one such rookie who could spring a surprise this year, Xander Schauffele seems to fit the bill. The winner of this year's Greenbrier Classic followed up with solid performances at both the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

In reality, there are so many plausible winners of the FedEx Cup this year and - if not for that reason alone - it's sure to be an exciting climax to the PGA Tour season.

Let us know who you think could be PGA Tour Champion this year. Can Hideki stay strong and hold his lead in the standings? Is Rahm still a bit raw to make his way to the top? Can Rory become the only player in FedEx Cup history to go back-to-back?

Let us know in the comments below.