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BlogTour Championship Preview and Picks

Tour Championship

Sept. 20th – 23rd, 2018

East Lake G.C.

Atlanta, GA

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,346

Purse: $9 million

with $1,620,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Xander Schauffele

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field has all 30 players in the top-100 with the highest rank being 92nd by Patton Kizzire. There are 28 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with nine of top-ten players in the field (#10 Jordan Spieth didn’t make it): #1 Justin Rose, #2 Brooks Koepka, #3 Dustin Johnson, #4 Justin Thomas, #5 Rory McIlroy, #6 Francesco Molinari, #7 Jon Rahm, #8 Bryson DeChambeau, #9 Rickie Fowler, #11 Jason Day, #12 Tommy Fleetwood, #13 Bubba Watson, #14 Patrick Reed, #16 Tony Finau, #17 Webb Simpson, #18 Paul Casey, #19 Xander Schauffele, #20 Hideki Matsuyama, #21 Tiger Woods, #22 Marc Leishman, #23 Patrick Cantlay, #25 Phil Mickelson, #27 Kyle Stanley, #31 Keegan Bradley, #33 Cameron Smith, #41 Gary Woodland, #42 Kevin Na and #48 Billy Horschel

Those missing from the top-50 include: #52 Aaron Wise and #92 Patton Kizzire

Last year there were 25 players from the top-50.

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

The field includes only five past champions: Xander Schauffele (2017), Rory McIlroy (2016), Billy Horschel (2014), Phil Mickelson (2009 & 2000) and Tiger Woods (2007 and 1999).

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.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

 

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. Dell Tech. Northern Trust Wyndham Champ. PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Invitational Barracuda RBC Canadian Porsche European British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open
Justin Rose
(413 pts)
2
(150)
2
(150)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
Bryson DeChambeau
(383.83 pts)
T19
(46.5)
Win
(198)
Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
30
(10)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T51
(0)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Brooks Koepka
(368.5 pts)
T19
(46.5)
T12
(57)
T8
(50)
DNP Win
(176)
5
(35)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Tony Finau
(360 pts)
T8
(75)
T4
(120)
2
(100)
DNP T42
(10.67)
T10
(20)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T9
(30)
DNP DNP DNP
Tiger Woods
(321.83 pts)
T6
(90)
T24
(39)
T40
(10)
DNP 2
(133.33)
T31
(9.5)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(293.5 pts)
T3
(135)
WD
(-7.5)
T3
(90)
T11
(26)
T35
(20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(285.33 pts)
T12
(57)
T24
(39)
T8
(50)
DNP T6
(80)
Win
(66)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(273.5 pts)
T24
(39)
T7
(82.5)
T11
(39)
DNP T27
(30.67)
T3
(45)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(271.83 pts)
T8
(75)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T6
(80)
T39
(5.5)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(260 pts)
5
(105)
T12
(57)
DNP DNP T50
(1.33)
T6
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Webb Simpson
(259.83 pts)
T6
(90)
T49
(1.5)
T28
(22)
T2
(66.67)
T19
(41.33)
T24
(13)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Keegan Bradley
(252.83 pts)
Win
(198)
T49
(1.5)
T34
(16)
DNP T42
(10.67)
DNP DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP 79
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(249 pts)
15
(52.5)
T4
(120)
T15
(35)
T11
(26)
T35
(20)
T39
(5.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Cameron Smith
(241.17 pts)
T65
(0)
3
(135)
T3
(90)
DNP T56
(0)
23
(13.5)
DNP DNP DNP 78
(0)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
Tommy Fleetwood
(227.33 pts)
T8
(75)
T24
(39)
T20
(30)
DNP T35
(20)
T14
(18)
DNP T6
(20)
DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(213.17 pts)
T3
(135)
T49
(1.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T35
(20)
68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(203.83 pts)
T12
(57)
T24
(39)
T48
(2)
DNP T6
(80)
T17
(16.5)
DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T67
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(176.83 pts)
T8
(75)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(50.67)
T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP T6
(20)
Patrick Cantlay
(175 pts)
T55
(0)
T24
(39)
T8
(50)
DNP T27
(30.67)
T6
(30)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Jon Rahm
(156 pts)
T24
(39)
T43
(10.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T4
(106.67)
T17
(16.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Jason Day
(137.33 pts)
T24
(39)
CUT
(-15)
T20
(30)
DNP T19
(41.33)
T10
(20)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(135.67 pts)
T16
(51)
T7
(82.5)
T34
(16)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T31
(9.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player BMW Champ. Dell Tech. Northern Trust Wyndham Champ. PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Invitational Barracuda RBC Canadian Porsche European British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open
Patton Kizzire
(-3.83 pts)
T61
(0)
T71
(0)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T31
(9.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP
Paul Casey
(50.5 pts)
WD
(-7.5)
T21
(43.5)
T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T31
(9.5)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Marc Leishman
(91 pts)
T41
(13.5)
T21
(43.5)
T34
(16)
DNP T71
(0)
T14
(18)
DNP DNP DNP 60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Phil Mickelson
(105.67 pts)
T58
(0)
T12
(57)
T15
(35)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T24
(13)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(17.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kyle Stanley
(127.17 pts)
T45
(7.5)
T12
(57)
T28
(22)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
2
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kevin Na
(127.83 pts)
T12
(57)
CUT
(-15)
T15
(35)
DNP T19
(41.33)
T31
(9.5)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(130.33 pts)
T19
(46.5)
T35
(22.5)
T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T28
(11)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP T23
(9)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Hard to believe that this is the last week of the 2018 season.  Just like that, another year will be in the history books, and for this year, things are ending at the end of September.  Next year the new schedule will have four fewer events (Houston, FedEx St. Jude, Quicken Loans, Greenbrier, and Dell Technologies aren’t on the schedule, one new event added 3M Open) so the Tour Championship will end on August 25th.  With this, the season will end before football starts and thus give more importance to the FedExCup playoffs, which will be reduced to 3 events.

As for this year, Player of the year has been determined with Brooks Koepka the probable winner.  As for this week, the FedExCup is still up to, but it’s safe to say that this week is a prelude to next week’s Ryder Cup in France.  The matches are always good, but this year could be even better.  Both teams look great on paper and there is no real underdog so that it could be the best three days of golf for the year.

As for this week’s FedExCup playoffs, Bryson DeChambeau is on top of the list, and he along with Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas control their destiny.  Either one of them wins, they win the FedExCup playoff and the ten million dollar prize.  It’s impressive that the three major winners aren’t in the top-five (Koepka is 7th, Molinari is 13th, and Reed is 15th).  Also of interest, of the 30 in the field 17 are in the Ryder Cup so we will have a bit of a look at how their games are.

Tournament information:

This is the 32nd Tour Championship. Founded initially 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 in 2 weeks a new year begins in California.

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 Bryson DeChambeau is the leader, if either Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas were to win this week, they would displace DeChambeau and win the FedEx Cup.

Mathematically every player has a chance at winning the FedEx Cup, but for those higher than a 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, won the Tour Championship and the FedExCup.  The same with Jordan Spieth in 2016 and Rory McIlroy in 2017.  Last year Justin Thomas finished 2nd to Xander Schauffele and became the first non-winner of the Tour Championship to win the FedExCup playoffs in 7 years.

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

One other link on PGA Tour that is a good look at all of the players in this, breaking down each of the 30 players at East Lake this week.

Course information:
  • East Lake Golf Club
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • 7,385 yards     Par 35-35–70
  • Tom Bendelow around 1905 designed East Lake 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 somewhat 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 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 old 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 bentgrass 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.
  • Also, 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.
  • Today, the course plays as a 7,385 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 211 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 green itself provides the challenge of the hole. 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 8 was expanded, and the hole can play to 470 yards even though the “official” yardage on the hole is 455.
  • In 2015 the course played to a 70.38 average and was the 17th hardest course on tour.  For years the course played it with a par 3 finish.  The hole was very hard, and this created terrible finishes.  So for 2016, the nines at East Lake was reversed as the PGA Tour was hoping to create a more exciting finish.  They got that as the new par 5 18th hole created a lot more drama as the par 3, ninth hole was, who in previous 15 years was the final hole.  in 2016 Rory McIlroy birdied the 72nd hole to get into the playoff, it was the first time in the history of East Lake at the Tour Championship that the winner birdied the 72nd hole.  That year the course played a lot easier, to a 69.61 average and was the 27th hardest course on Tour.  Last year the course played to a 69.38 average and was the 31st hardest course on tour.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at 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 2018.

This is a classic Tom Bendelow design that Donald Ross completely reworked, a course that favors the shot maker and one that hits lots 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 changed. 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, an important real estate developer in Atlanta to bring the course back from its 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 17 times the course has held the Tour Championship, only one champion has been out of the top-ten in greens hit (Bill Haas in 2011) 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 so 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 Lake 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 East Lake was T-43rd in putting average so it’s important to putt well on this course to play well. This stat shows how easy the greens are, in 2017 only six other courses had easier greens to putt. Last we have birdies, last year each of the 30 pros averaged 3.53 birdies a round, so look for the player with the best birdie average to continue that at East Lake.
One last thing that, since coming back from the British Open six weeks ago, every PGA Tour event has experienced rain and wet conditions. When the course is wet it changes the character of the course and makes it easier. I can just about guarantee that every result has been because of the rain and easier conditions. Rain is the biggest friend of professional golfers, it makes any golf course easier so that is one of the reasons we have seen lower scores. Will that trend continue this week? Atlanta has had a good amount of rain the last couple of weeks so yes East Lake will be soft. The good news, for the first week in a while it looks like there won’t be any rain during the week of the Tour Championship.  It’s also going to be hot and muggy if the course can dry up it will play as it should, still, the course will be easier.

*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.

*Birdie Average: Players that make the most birdies per round

Of the 30 players in the field, 30 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2018:

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

Here is the link to get the full field of 30 players

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Justin Rose – $11,400
  • Dustin Johnson – $11,300
  • Rory McIlroy – $10,700
  • Justin Thomas – $10,300
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,000
  • Tiger Woods – $9,500
  • Rickie Fowler – $9,100
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $8,800
  • Tony Finau – $8,600
  • Bryce DeChambeau – $8,400

Another drastically different week with only 30 in the field.  The good news, all six of your players will make the cut, but if you don’t pick the winner and the runner-up, it will be hard to cash in this week.  Another thing to think of, the guys at the top may not be your friend unless you think they will win.  So yes Justin Rose at $11,400 is playing well and has an excellent record at East Lake, but the price is very dear and won’t give you much room for anyone else over $8,600.  Now I will take Rose in one of my picks, but again it makes the other picks harder.  As for Dustin Johnson at $11,300 I say a huge no on him.  Lot’s of rumors of personal problems are starting to leak out, so I suppose it’s probably best to pass on Johnson.  I also will take a pass on Rory McIlroy at $10,700; he has been mixed since winning the Arnold Palmer, yes he was runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship and the British Open but has played indifferently since.  Now the only thing about not taking either Johnson or McIlroy is their firepower; they do make a lot of birdies. Still, their price is high.  Now Justin Thomas is another high price at $10,300 and has struggled a bit in the playoffs, but remember this in his 12 rounds of the playoffs he has been in the 60s ten times.  He also has been good in his two starts at East Lake, so I say take him.  I also like Brooks Koepka at $10,000, he is playing good, should do well and has played well at East Lake.  Tiger Woods at $9,500 is also a good buy, he hasn’t played at East Lake since 2013 but he has played well on it, so take him.  The only problem with Tiger, he isn’t making many birdies, and that loss of production could be a problem.  One who person who is right in production is Rickie Fowler, who this week is just $9,100.  Normally I say yes, but in 4 East Lake starts he has only been in the top-ten once, a T-8th in 2014.  So he is a problem.  I also don’t like Hideki Matsuyama at $8,800; he has a poor track record at East Lake.  Tony Finau at $8,600 is a good choice, good in production and played well in his only East Lake start last year.  Another great buy and someone that I see will be a popular pick is Bryson DeChambeau at $8,400.  He is low because he showed signs of a let down at the BMW finishing T-19th, but hey he shot 67-70-64-67.  He has never played at East Lake, but he never played at Ridgewood and won there.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,200 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

I don’t like Francesco Molinari at $8,200 or Jason Day at $8,000.  Both will be a disappointment for you.  I do like Tommy Fleetwood at $7,900, yes he never has played at East Lake, but I think he will be fine.  The same with Webb Simpson at $7,500, he is playing well and think he will contend this week.

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the Tour Championship

You are going to need to make some picks from these “cheap” players.  First up is Billy Horschel at $7,300, he is a great buy.  He is a past champion at East Lake and is playing well right now; he is a player that you can pick.  I have said yes on Patrick Cantlay this summer, but he hasn’t shown us much and even at $7,100 I think you can do better.  One of those is Xander Schauffele at $7,000, hard to believe he is the defending champion, finished T-3rd at the BMW and is still just $7,000.  Do take him.  Also, a good pick is Paul Casey at $6,800, he hasn’t played well this summer but always seems to do well at East Lake so take him.  Also think that Bubba Watson at $6,500 will do you some good, remember when guys are cheap like those below $6,500 your looking to try to find some that do well in making birdies and eagles, the only one that I can recommend is Marc Leishman at $6,300 because he ranks 18th in birdie average for the year.

 

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 17 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.  In 2015 Jordan Speith was T-9th in greens hit, while 2016 Rory McIlroy was 2nd in greens hit.  Last year Xander Schauffele was 2nd hitting 56 of the 72 greens. So we can see that hitting greens are essential because if you miss a green at East Lake, it will be challenging 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 28 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 in 2015.  So check it out at GolfStats.Com.  2016 winner Rory McIlroy broke the streak as he was T-3rd, 4 shots back and shot a final round 64 to tie for the lead before winning in a playoff.  Last year Xander Schauffele was T-2nd, 2 shots back and shot a final round 68 to win by a shot.
  • Experience and having a good year especially coming into the event is also a factor. Just look at the winners over the years.  Rory McIlroy last year, Jordan Spieth in 2015, Henrik Stenson in 2013, Brandt Snedeker 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 feel that this year’s victor will be one of top-five, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman or Jon Rahm.  Now Xander Schauffele broke this up a bit last year, but still, the experience is essential.
  • One last thing to look for. Yes, the course is demanding, but as it goes into the year being played for the 18th time and the 15th 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 underperformance in 2007 it’s rarely been taken apart.  Look for that trend to continue this year even with the course playing soft.
  • Lastly, the weather in Atlanta.  After wet conditions in the last six events, the course is wet the weekend before, but the good news is that there won’t be any rain during the week.  The bad news is that the skies will be cloudy most of the week with very little wind so it won’t get firm and the scores could be low.

Who to watch for at the Tour Championship

Best Bets:

Justin Rose

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T10 T2 T4 6 2 T20 T15 T11

Playing the best, the course is right up his alley, I see him winning.

Tiger Woods

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T22 T8 2 Win

this is not only a perfect course for him to win on, it will leave a great memory and 3 months for players to think about how good Woods could be in 2019.

Bryson DeChambeau

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Have to go with him, he has a lot at stake and knows how to play well, the big question can he be the first to win 3 of the 4 FedExCup playoffs, I think he can.

Best of the rest:

Brooks Koepka

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
6 T18

Guy is perfect on this kind of course and he could make Player of the Year a slam-dunk if he could win.

Paul Casey

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
5 4 T5 T4

He will go under the radar screen at East Lake, but look at his record there. He is awesome and will contend.

Tommy Fleetwood

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Guy has played well all year and should continue the good play this week.

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T6

Guy almost won last year, Course is perfect for him.

Keegan Bradley

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T12 T23 T11

I would say no, but he was very impressive at the BMW and it could carry over onto another Donald Ross course.

Solid contenders

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 T6 T5 5 T10 T23 T22 27

Just think that he has problems outside of the golf course that is creating him not contending.

Tony Finau

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T7

He seems to be able to play well week in and week out. Look for him to do well.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T26 T12 8 T23

Has never played well at East Lake, that trend will continue this week.

Rory McIlroy

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T16 T2 T10

Also think that his game is not good enough to win, don’t know what the problem is but it’s very frustrating.

Jason Day

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17 WD T10 T4 T14 T6 T17

Another lost cause that won’t contend this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Billy Horschel

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T7

Has had great times at East Lake and I can see him continue that trend this week.

Webb Simpson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T13 T23 4 T5 22

Plays great on Donald Ross courses, he can surprise us this week.

Marc Leishman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T24 T28

Guy will be another going under the radar scoop that could do well.

Comments

  1. jamoore@wlu.ca says:

    Confusing as hell Sal. You list players as solid contenders and then state that they will not do well. Why are they solid contenders then? You might want to stick to just providing stats. Your writing is terrible. Do you ever proof read before you post?

  2. Sorry boat was in a rush to catch an airplane for Paris. Was soppose to go on Tuesday, but got upgraded if I took the flight at the last moment

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