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BlogTour Champ. Preview and Picks

Tour Championship

September 22nd – 25th, 2016

East Lake G.C.

Atlanta, GA

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,385

Purse: $8.5 million

with $1,530,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jordan Spieth

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 25 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with seven of top-ten players in the field (#5 Henrik Stenston, #9 Rickie Fowler & #10 Danny Willett didn’t make it): #1 Jason Day, #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Rory McIlroy, #4 Jordan Spieth, #6 Adam Scott, #7 Bubba Watson and #8 Patrick Reed.  From 11 to 25 there are 9 of the 15 with #14 Phil Mickelson, #15 Paul Casey, #16 Jimmy Walker, #17 Matt Kuchar, #18 Hideki Matsuyama, #19 Russell Knox, #21 J.B. Holmes, #23 Brandt Snedeker, #25 Charl Schwartzel. Between 26 and 50 there are 9 of the 25, they are #26 Emiliano Grillo, #32 Justin Thomas, #33 Kevin Kisner, #34 Kevin Chappell, #36 Kevin Na, #37 Daniel Berger, #41 William McGirt, #42 Ryan Moore and #49 Gary Woodland.

Those missing from the top-50 include: #57 Siwoo Kim, #63 Jason Dufner, #70 Roberto Castro, #75 Jhonattan Vegas and #78 Sean O’Hair

Last year there was 25 players from the top-50, so both years had the same.

The field includes all 30 of the top-30 from the FedEx Cup rankings.

The field includes 22 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list. Those three not in the field are #17 Henrik Stenson, #18 Brooks Koepka and #22 Sergio Garcia.

The field includes three past champions: Jordan Spieth (2015), Brandt Snedeker (2012), Phil Mickelson (2000 & ’09) and Adam Scott (2006).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Tour Championship field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Tour Championship field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Tour Championship field

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

**NOTE**

One thing to look for is our new GOLFstats IQ.  For those that play in fantasy golf it’s a perfect way to help you pick those players in Draft Kings and Victiv games.  You can customize the list of those in the tournaments, to look back a couple or many years of tournament stats and you can go back a couple or ten weeks prior to the tournament.  On top of that, all the stats are fully sortable to help you pick your six players, we even give you their value for the week to help you chose.

That’s GOLFstats IQ, give it a try and tell us what you think of it

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So if you own a Iphone or a Ipad we have developed a perfect app called GOLF IQ.

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Tour Championship

Player BMW Champ. Deutsche Bank Barclays Classic Wyndham Champ. John Deere Olympic Men’s Travelers Champ. PGA Champ. Canadian Open British Open Barbasol Champ. Scottish Open
Patrick Reed
(413.5 pts)
T13
(55.5)
T5
(105)
Win
(132)
T22
(18.67)
DNP T11
(26)
T11
(13)
T13
(24.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
Dustin Johnson
(361.67 pts)
Win
(198)
T8
(75)
T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T2
(33.33)
T9
(30)
DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(350 pts)
2
(150)
2
(150)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
T10
(26.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Adam Scott
(346 pts)
T4
(120)
4
(120)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP T43
(4.67)
DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(269 pts)
T42
(12)
Win
(198)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(267.17 pts)
T13
(55.5)
3
(135)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
T14
(12)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(238.17 pts)
T32
(27)
T33
(25.5)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T43
(2.33)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP
Ryan Moore
(231.67 pts)
T64
(0)
T8
(75)
T7
(55)
T53
(0)
Win
(88)
DNP T17
(11)
T70
(0)
DNP T46
(2.67)
DNP DNP
Jason Day
(222.33 pts)
WD
(-7.5)
T15
(52.5)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
T14
(12)
T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Si Woo Kim
(219.5 pts)
T20
(45)
T15
(52.5)
CUT
(-10)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
T23
(9)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Matt Kuchar
(208 pts)
T4
(120)
T46
(6)
T64
(0)
DNP DNP 3
(60)
T17
(11)
CUT
(-6.67)
T9
(15)
T46
(2.67)
DNP DNP
Roberto Castro
(197 pts)
3
(135)
T24
(39)
CUT
(-10)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
T65
(0)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP
J.B. Holmes
(194.5 pts)
T4
(120)
T33
(25.5)
T41
(9)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Russell Knox
(191.33 pts)
T17
(49.5)
T15
(52.5)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T22
(18.67)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
Kevin Na
(190.83 pts)
T20
(45)
T11
(58.5)
CUT
(-10)
T10
(26.67)
T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(189 pts)
9
(67.5)
T21
(43.5)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP T30
(13.33)
DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(188.17 pts)
T24
(39)
T15
(52.5)
CUT
(-10)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(187.5 pts)
T24
(39)
T15
(52.5)
T4
(80)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(182.5 pts)
T24
(39)
T33
(25.5)
T22
(28)
DNP DNP T50
(0.67)
DNP T22
(18.67)
Win
(44)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Brandt Snedeker
(165.5 pts)
T13
(55.5)
T46
(6)
T48
(2)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
T5
(23.33)
T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(151.33 pts)
T24
(39)
CUT
(-15)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
Charl Schwartzel
(146.67 pts)
T4
(120)
70
(0)
T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(116 pts)
T20
(45)
CUT
(-15)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T25
(8.33)
T60
(0)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP
Sean O’Hair
(105.33 pts)
T52
(0)
T53
(0)
T2
(100)
T22
(18.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(96.83 pts)
T10
(60)
T41
(13.5)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Dufner
(90.83 pts)
60
(0)
T33
(25.5)
T22
(28)
T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(84 pts)
T61
(0)
T8
(75)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(80.5 pts)
T39
(16.5)
T46
(6)
T48
(2)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
T26
(8)
76
(0)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(75.33 pts)
T32
(27)
CUT
(-15)
T10
(40)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T66
(0)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP
William McGirt
(52.33 pts)
T20
(45)
CUT
(-15)
T41
(9)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
T59
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Tour Championship

Player BMW Champ. Deutsche Bank Barclays Classic Wyndham Champ. John Deere Olympic Men’s Travelers Champ. PGA Champ. Canadian Open British Open Barbasol Champ. Scottish Open
William McGirt
(52.33 pts)
T20
(45)
CUT
(-15)
T41
(9)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
T59
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(75.33 pts)
T32
(27)
CUT
(-15)
T10
(40)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
T66
(0)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(80.5 pts)
T39
(16.5)
T46
(6)
T48
(2)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(21.33)
T26
(8)
76
(0)
DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(84 pts)
T61
(0)
T8
(75)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP
Jason Dufner
(90.83 pts)
60
(0)
T33
(25.5)
T22
(28)
T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(96.83 pts)
T10
(60)
T41
(13.5)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sean O’Hair
(105.33 pts)
T52
(0)
T53
(0)
T2
(100)
T22
(18.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(116 pts)
T20
(45)
CUT
(-15)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T8
(33.33)
T25
(8.33)
T60
(0)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(146.67 pts)
T4
(120)
70
(0)
T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP T18
(21.33)
DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(151.33 pts)
T24
(39)
CUT
(-15)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Hard to believe that this is the last week of the 2016 season.  Just like that another year will be in the history books and for this year there will be a nice ending to the year.  I can’t remember the last time that the last tournament of the year was coming up and player of the year honors wasn’t a slam dunk.  Many believe that with Dustin Johnson winning the BMW Championship it pretty much puts a wrap on that.  Since Johnson has three wins for the year including a major (U.S. Open), a WGC event (Bridgestone) and FedEx Cup event (BMW) if he goes on and wins the FedEx Cup he will get player of the year.  I would think that 95 out of 100 would agree with that since there isn’t a strong claim by anyone else.

That is unless…

  • Jason Day wins this week, he may not have won a major but would have four wins in the Arnold Palmer, WGC-Dell Match Play, Players Championship and the Tour Championship.  That would be better than Johnson.
  • Also with an outside chance is Jordan Spieth who has wins in the Hyundai T of C and Dean & Deluca.  Still hard press that he would get the nod over Johnson just because he wins the FedEx Cup.
  • Also a possibility is if Jimmy Walker wins, add his victory at the PGA Championship to winning the FedEx Cup that could get some voters, but still think it’s Johnson who I feel can only lose if Jason Day wins this week.

Now talking about Day, he has his own problems.  His back has given him problems all year long, it started giving him problems at the Dell Match Play but he was still able to win there.  It popped at the British Open and it forced him to withdraw from the BMW Championship, if you look at the way he has played the last three months it’s not been as stellar as the first five months of the year.  So as far as I am concern it’s a big problem and one that will probably effect his game this week.  Who knows, maybe with the week off it will get better, but I still think that it won’t be 100%.

As we say good-bye to the 2016 season we should mention that Tiger Woods had no presence in it.  But the news is that he will play in October at the Safeway (Old Frys in Napa).  He also plans to play in Turkey and at his world challenge in Bahamas so we will have something to watch in the spring.  Yes I know that next week is the Ryder Cup and magically the PGA Tour will start 2017 right after, but I still think of the coming months as finishing off the European Tour and then taking some time off.  Golf will continue with the Fall swing and we will follow it, but after the Ryder Cup the interest level in golf does fall down until the Hyundai T of C.  SO let’s look forward to a great next two weeks of golf.

Tournament information:

This is the 30th Tour Championship. Originally founded as the Nabisco Championship, it switched to the Tour Championship in 1991. In 2001, Coca-Cola became a title sponsor for the event, which still bears its name.

Through 2006, the top 30 players on the money list up to the Tour Championship qualified for the event. With a limited field, the event doesn’t have a cut.  2007 was the first year in which the top-30 of the FedEx Cup point list got in as it became the last leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Since 2004, the Tour Championship has been held at East Lake Golf Club outside of  Atlanta, Ga. Back then it was in November but with the advent of the new FedEx Cup, the Tour Championship was moved to mid-September. The event now is the final leg of the “Chase for the FedEx Cup.”   For most of the marquee players, this is the last PGA Tour event of the year as most of the top players won’t play in any of the seven fall events that are coming up.

This year just like the year before the scheme for the FedEx Cup hasn’t changed. After the BMW, points were redone thus giving the top-five leaders a chance at winning the FedEx Cup if they win the Tour Championship.  So even though Dustin Johnson is the leader, if either Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day or Paul Casey were to win this week, they would displace Johnson and win the FedEx Cup.

Mathematically every player has a chance at winning the FedEx Cup, but for those higher than tenth they have a very slim chance.  Now that is easy to say but in 2010 Jim Furyk came to East Lake 11th in the rankings, and his victory at East Lake worked out into a win in the FedEx Cup. More drastic in 2011 Bill Haas was 25th in the rankings, but his victory and some poor play by the leaders in the rankings rose Haas into winning the series.  In 2012 Brandt Snedeker was 5th and won, the same for Henrik Stenson while in 2014 Billy Horschel was 2nd so the last five winners of the Tour Championship also won the FedEx Cup playoffs.

The PGA Tour has put together a great “cheat sheet” in helping you figure out the scenarios to win of all the players.

Course information: East Lake was designed by Tom Bendelow around 1905 and in 1913 Donald Ross completely reworked the course and even though the layout is the same today, it was altered by George Cobb before the 1963 Ryder Cup matches.

East Lake has had a rather tumultuous existence. From its inception until the early 1960s, East Lake was one of the top courses in the entire country. It was Bobby Jones’s home golf course. The Ryder Cup was held at East Lake in 1963. However, problems began to arise at the Atlanta country club as the area got seedy, and higher income people began emigrating to the suburbs, leaving only lower-income households to inhabit the area surrounding the once storied Country Club. In the ’60s, the membership decided to abandon the site and move to what is presently Atlanta Athletic Club, with East Lake becoming a public course.

For the next 30 years, the golf course, along with the community itself, floundered, as the area became the most dangerous part of Atlanta. Police often referred to the area in the 70s & 80s surrounding East Lake as “Little Vietnam.”

In 1993, Tom Cousins, an esteemed real-estate developer and East Lake resident, joined with a charitable foundation in an effort to restore the East Lake Golf Club and the surrounding community to its previously leviathan stature. The two-phase plan included restoration on all housing and an overhaul of the dilapidated golf course. Rees Jones was hired to do the restoration in 1994.

Jones revamped the grass, changed many tees, and completely changed the landscaping. Unfortunately, when Jones did all of the work, it wasn’t thought that the event would be played in September, weeks after the hot summer season.  Everyone was caught by surprise in 2007 when the greens were stressed by a combination of drought and 28 days in August of heat over 90 degrees.  With these conditions, there was not enough time for the bentgrass greens to adequately recover from Atlanta’s hottest summer on record in the midst of a drought. And it was determined that in the best interest that the Crenshaw creep bent grass would be replaced with Bermudagrass.  In making the changes to the greens, Jones also changed some of the contours of the greens and created some roll-off areas on greens.

In addition, the green on No. 7 was changed and pushed back 43 yards, extending the par-4 hole to 394 yards. The fairway and green on No. 17 were repositioned left, closer to East Lake’s shoreline, and new tees were added on No. 13, 15 and 16. New fairways bunkers were added on the left side of No. 3, 7 and 16, and to the right side of No. 15. Bunkers were reconfigured on the green at No. 16 and expanded on the right side of the green on No. 14, as well as the left side of No. 4 green. New hole locations were created on various greens and low-cut, roll-off areas were installed off of greens on No. 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10 and 17.

Now the course was in great shape before the weekend, the rough was high and the fairways and greens were hard and fast.

Today, the course plays as a 7,307 yard, par 70. It features Meyer Zoysia grass on both the tees and fairways while the rough is 419 Bermuda Grass.  The greens are also Bermudagrass, thus it can tolerate the hot days of August and be in great shape for this week.

The signature hole at East Lake is the Par 3, 15th. The hole plays at around 209 yards, but the downhill shot eliminates some of the distance. The tee was expanded and if officials want, they can stretch the hole to 225 yards.  The challenge of the hole is provided by the green itself. Golfers must attack a peninsula green with water left, right and in front of the green, as well as part of the backside. Adding to the difficulty, is a small bunker on the front left and the green, effectively making this an island green.  One other change, the tee at 17 was expanded, and the hole can play to 470 yards even though the “official” yardage on the hole is 455.

Last year the course played to a 70.38 average, a quarter shot over par.  It was the 27th hardest course.

Last but not least a major change will come about this year.  The nines at East Lake will be reversed as the PGA Tour is hoping to create a more exciting finish.  This makes lot’s of sense, over the years the par 3 18th hole hasn’t created any drama, in the previous 15 years that the championship has been played there, the 18th hole has never really seen a change in the outcome.  Nobody has ever birdied the final hole to win, in looking at the past champions par seems to be the number and it’s always good for the victory.  Not only is this a problem on the 18th hole, but last year the 16th hole was the 6th toughest hole on the course, the 17th was the 4th hardest and the 18th was the 5th hardest.

With the change that means the Tour Championship will end on the par 5 9th hole.  It’s long at 600 yards but just look at how the finish played.  The 7th hole was the 13th hardest hole, the 8th was the 10th hardest and the 9th was the 16th hardest.  So look for a more dramatic finish among the players.  It’s a shame not ending on such a great hole as the 18th, but it was too hard to create a dramatic finish and we should see that now.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at the East Lake:

This is based on the most vital stats from East Lake G.C., based on data from last year’s Tour Championship and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2016.

This is a classic tom Bendelow design that Donald Ross completely reworked, a course that favors the shot maker and one that hits lot’s of greens. The course was considered one of the best in America in the 20s and 30s, but with changes to the community in the 50s and 60s things were changing. The course held the 1963 Ryder Cup on it and George Cobb did some changes. The club fell into some really hard times in the 70s and 80s and it took Tom Cousin, a important real estate developer in Atlanta to bring the course back from it’s low point. Ress Jones did the restoration in 1994 but the goal was to bring it back to the changes that Donald Ross made, which he did perfectly.
What makes the course a gem is that each hole is tree-lined so you have to drive it fairly straight. The most important aspect is hitting greens, in the 15 times the course has held the Tour Championship, only one champion has been out of the top-ten in greens hit and seven of the champions led that stat. The greens are also hard to putt and since most of the greens are built up, you miss a green scrambling becomes key. The bottom line this isn’t a course for the power hitter, short hitters have as much chance of doing well as long hitters.

So in looking at our four categories, we see how much driving and getting the ball on the green makes a difference. So we pick Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green because at East Field putting the ball in play off the tee is very important, probably one of the most important items on this Donald Ross course. Then getting the ball on the greens is important and we all know how hard it is to hit a Donald Ross green. That is why next up is scrambling, because the greens are hard to hit, when you miss the green you have to get it up and down to win. After that putting average is important, last year Sedgefield was T-11th in putting average so it’s important to play well to putt well on this course. Last we have birdies, last year 1,674 birdies were made only five other courses saw more birdies made.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Looks at the combination of length off the tee and accuracy, then getting the ball on the green so it determines who is best at all of these items.

*Scrambler: Who gets it up and down after missing a green.

*Strokes Gained Putting: The number of putts a player takes from a specific distance is measured against a statistical baseline to determine the player’s strokes gained or lost on a hole.

*Birdies: Players that make the most birdies

Players from this year’s field with stats from 2016:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

 

For the rest of the players, hit this link:

Here are some of the secrets to playing well at East Lake:

Key stat for the winner:

  • As was proven in past Tour Championships played at East Lake it favors those that hit lots of greens.  Just look at the 15 winners of previous Tour Championships at East Lake. Hal Sutton in 1998 was 1st while in 2000 Phil Mickelson was T4th in greens hit, Vijay Singh was T8th in 2002, Retief Goosen was first in 2004 and Bart Bryant first in 2005, Adam Scott was T6th in 2006 while in 2007 Tiger Woods led, in 2008 Camilo Villegas was T3rd while in 2009 Phil Mickelson was T8th.  in 2010 Jim Furyk led the greens hit, but Bill Haas slacked off to T-11th in ’11, Brandt Snedeker was T-7th in 2012. In 2013 Henrik Stenson proved the importance of hitting greens as he led that stat, the same in 2014 with Billy Horschel.  Last year Jordan Speith was T-9th in greens hit. So we can see that hitting greens are important because if you miss a green at East Lake it will be very difficult to get up and down for par.
  • Another key is holding the lead going into the final round.  Since 1987, the player who either led or had a share of the lead through 54 holes has gone on to win 17 out of 27 times – Tom Watson (1987), Curtis Strange (’88), Jodie Mudd (’90), Craig Stadler (’91), Paul Azinger (’92), Billy Mayfair (’95), Tom Lehman (’96), David Duval (’97), Tiger Woods (’99), Vijay Singh (2002), Chad Campbell in 2003, Bart Bryant in 2005, Adam Scott in 2006, Tiger Woods in 2007, Jim Furyk in 2010, Brandt Snedeker in 2012, Henrik Stenson in 2013, Billy Horschel in 2014 and Jordan Spieth last year.  So check it out at GolfStats.Com.
  • Experience and having a good year especially coming into the event is also a factor. Just look at the winners over the years.  Jordan Spieth last year, Henrik Stenson in 2013, Brandt Snedker in 2012, Jim Furyk in 2010, Phil Mickelson the year before, Tiger Woods in 2007, Adam Scott the year before that.  Bart Bryant in 2005 and Retief Goosen in 2004 were examples of this. Scott finished either 2nd or 3rd six times going into the event, Bryant had won the Memorial early in the year while Goosen won the U.S. Open and then capped off with the Tour Championship.  All of them won capping off great years so I really feel that this year’s victor will be one of top-five, Day, Spieth, Fowler, Stenson and Watson.
  • One last thing to look for. Yes, the course is demanding, but as it goes into the year being played for the 16th time and the 13th year in a row as the host course, the pros are starting to learn it better and shoot lower scores.  Yes, it’s going to take four rounds in the 60s to win, but other than Bart Bryant’s brilliant 17 under par performance in 2005 and Tiger Woods 23 under performance in 2007 it’s rarely been taken apart.  Look for that trend to continue this year even with the course playing fast.
  • Lastly, the weather in Atlanta.  After rain in the first three FedEx Cup events we may have a dry week.  The long range forecast has only a 10% chance of rain for the four days with temperatures in the mid-80s range so it will be perfect and the course should play fast for the weekend

Who to watch for at the Tour Championship

Best Bets:

Paul Casey

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T5 T4

Sorry but I sense a major upset coming this week. Casey has been on the cuff many times and just never grasped it, looking for him to change his ways and dominate this week. The course is good for his game and in the two times he has played it never done bad.

Jordan Spieth

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
Win T27 T2

Another player that I sense will do very well this week. His iron play has improved and his putting is always the key for victory.

Dustin Johnson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T5 5 T10 T23 T22 27

He has been the best player in 2016 but he has to play well this week to prove it. He has the game to hit lots of greens, but he stumbled at the PGA Championship and could stumble this week. But I don’t see that happening, I see him coming in and doing this job by not only winning the Tour Championship, but also the FedEx Cup and the Player-of-the-Year honors.

Best of the rest:

Rory McIlroy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T16 T2 T10

He won at the Deutsche Bank but stumbled a bit at the BMW. He has mix results in his three tries at East Lake, but after finishing T-2nd in 2014 we know that he can win on this course, look for a good week from him.

Patrick Reed

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
27 T19

Could be an interesting week for him, he is playing great right now but has struggled at East Lake

J.B. Holmes

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T8

He will have all the momentum on his side after being a Ryder Cup pick. He can play well and possibly contend this week.

Ryan Moore

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T3 T9

He has a lot to prove, the course is perfect for him and he could easily contend. If he does and plays well, he could find himself on the Ryder Cup team.

Daniel Berger

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T12

He also will be playing hard for a high finish and a berth on the Ryder Cup team.

Solid contenders

Adam Scott

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T9 T14 19 T6 27 T26 Win T7 T21

Is the best from tee to green and he should win. But his year has been weird of late, after a great March he has slipped down, but we still shouldn’t forget about him.

Jimmy Walker

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T18 T17

He will be looking for a good week, if he wins could muddy up the Player of the Year honors.

Matt Kuchar

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T10 13 T26 T10 T20 T25

Have never understood how a guy with such a great tee to green game can do so bad on East Lake. Has never been in the top-nine in six starts.

Hideki Matsuyama

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T12 22

Another good player that hasn’t played well at East Lake.

Long shots that could come through:

Roberto Castro

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T9

Played well at the BMW and had a top-ten in his only Tour Championship start so don’t forget about him.

Sean O’Hair

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
3 12

Made it so far and on a course that he has played well on

Emiliano Grillo

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
First time playing in this event

Has turned a surprising year into something really special, could end it great with a win this week.

I don’t like their chances this week:

Bubba Watson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T5 14 T5 T23 T17 30

After his win in L.A. and 2nd at the WGC-Cadillac it’s been a big struggle. Who knows if it’s old age creeping up on him or that he doesn’t play as hard anymore, no matter I can’t see him breaking out of it this week which could mean not playing in the Ryder Cup.

Jason Day

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T10 T4 T14 T6 T17

It’s very hard to write negative things about a player on Monday. But I think his back has been his problem over the summer and it’s not getting any better, look for his inconsistence play to continue.

Phil Mickelson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T12 T15 10 T22 Win T3 20 T19

Just isn’t able to get it rolling like he use too.

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