The PGA Tour heads to the home of some of golf’s most breathtaking courses, Atlanta, with East Lake Golf Course having their annual Tour Championship, the final stage of the FedEx Cup and the usual end to the PGA Tour’s season.
The FedEx Cup itself can be a perplexing contest at the best of times, with the regular season event allocating points to players for winning competitions and finishing high up the leaderboard, meaning the top 125 golfers on the tour qualify for stage one of the Cup, which had a delayed start due to Hurricane Henri, so it began on August 23.
Tony Finau defeated Cameron Smith via a playoff at The Northern Trust event, pocketing himself a handsome million-dollar prize pool and taking him up to first in the rankings. Notable players who were cut from the competition include Matthew Wolff, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton, who all finished outside the top 70.
The BMW Championship followed last weekend, ending in yet another dramatic playoff, this time between Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau, who went through six holes before Cantlay prevailed and made birdie. That all followed some feisty moments between the two, something all so common to ‘The Scientist’. As a result, Cantlay moved to the top spot and DeChambeau to third place in the rankings, and cut notable golfers such as Masters winner Hideki Matsuyama, Englishmen Paul Casey and Lee Westwood, as well as 2015 FedEx Cup champion Jordan Spieth.
Now there remain 30 golfers on their way to Georgia with the ‘Calamity Jane’ putter on their mind, however the FedEx Cup adds a twist to the Tour Championship. The players’ rankings mean the more successful ones receive an advantage over their competitors. Patrick Cantlay, who enters the round top of the leaderboards, starts at 10 under par. From the points leader having 10 shots, second place will have eight, third has seven and so forth until you get to sixth place, where all sixth to 10th-placed players will have four shots. Every five places in the rankings onwards will have one shot less than the previous five until you get to even par, where the 25th to 30th-placed players will be.
As soon as play starts on Thursday, the confusing points system can be forgotten with some help from the on-screen graphics from your local coverage provider. Luckily, European viewers can be pleased that this tournament takes place in the Eastern time zone, meaning that play shouldn’t end any time after midnight, unlike this year’s US Open.
East Lake itself is an interesting course, with narrow fairways making players struggle to find many in regulation. Many competitors are bound to find the thick Bermuda rough, and struggle to get out, however there are only two par-fives in the 18 holes, meaning that the green could always be on offer with a second shot for some of the big hitters, whereas others may feel taunted by the course length into making rash mistakes.
What the odds say
Patrick Cantlay - 10/3 with Betfred
Recent winner of the BMW Championship and just made it into the USA Ryder Cup team. Has a 10-shot advantage and almost guaranteed to place with such a buffer, barring an uncharacteristic implosion.
Jon Rahm - 7/2
Currently one of the world’s best golfers and Team Europe’s shining light going into the Ryder Cup. Winner of the 2021 US Open and has got a top-10 finish in every major this season, most recently an impressive tied-third place finish at Royal St. Georges in The Open. Starts with six shots.
Bryson DeChambeau 5/1
Ever controversial, DeChambeau also enters the Tour Championship in hot form, with his putting being the difference between him and Cantlay last weekend at the BMW Championship. Winner of last year’s US Open and this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. Starts with seven shots.