Ladies and gentleman, the moment you've all been waiting for is finally here: the annual appearance of Steve Sands' whiteboard! Wait, you're telling me you're actually here for golf instead of math? Ah, sorry about that. In any case, this week is an interesting mix of golf (the Tour Championship), math (ending the week No. 1 in points and being the winner of the FedEx Cup and the $10 million that comes with it) and old technology (Sands, the Golf Channel's interviewer-turned-mathematician, using a whiteboard to track the live points standings and the impact of any given shot as the telecast unfolds). It all adds up to one of the most action-packed weeks of the year and the most bizarre golf telecast you'll see.
The Tour Championship is played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, a historic venue that has seen its share of fantastic champions and finishes over the years. In just the last 13 years, Phil Mickelson (twice), Adam Scott, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Bill Haas and Brand Snedeker have won there.
The top-five players in the FedEx Cup standings enter East Lake controlling their own destiny, as they'll win the $10 million first-place prize if they win the Tour Championship.
Tiger enters East Lake in the first spot in the standings but not in form, as he was never sharp in Boston three weeks ago and putted poorly last week at the BMW.
Mickelson enters the Tour Championship in eighth in the standings but hasn't been sharp lately, either. He arrived at Conway Farms late last week due to a family matter, and one wonders how much he's practiced in recent weeks.
Furyk, meanwhile, is having a season filled of disappointment. First, he lost the PGA Championship to Jason Dufner, and then shoots 59 last Friday only to see Zach Johnson snatch victory away with a stellar 65 on Monday. Still, for fantasy owners looking for a nice finish, he could be nice starter this week.
Scott enters East Lake third in the standings and has a victory at The Barclays to help his cause. He's also fourth in scoring average this season and is seventh in the all-around ranking.
Haas is 18th coming to Atlanta and is a long shot to win the big prize. He does have a win at the AT&T National in July and is fifth in par-four performance this year. Two years ago he won everything with the now-famous shot out of the water on 17 on Sunday.
Snedeker might be the sneaky pick to steal the whole thing. He's the defending champion, 10th in the standings, has won twice this year - once at the beginning and once at the end - and is fourth in strokes gained-putting, sixth in birdie average and 14th in proximity to the hole.
As the name suggests, the all-around ranking is a list of players who have all facets of their games on form. Here are the top players from that category playing this week:
Tiger Woods - Tiger's still No. 1 in this category, but much has been made about his scrambling lately and it is certainly something to take note, especially if he's not having a strong ball-striking week. He's 55th in scrambling, 138th in scrambling from more than 30 yards, 52nd in proximity to the hole from the bunker and 69th in scrambling from the rough. That's not Tiger-like at all.
Steve Stricker - Stricker has a second and tie for fourth in his last two starts and had a great chance to win in Chicago before his game cooled Monday.
Jordan Spieth - This is Spieth's first trip to the Tour Championship - he's only the second player in history to go from no status to Atlanta in the same season - so he may not be the smartest fantasy pick this week as this is all new territory for him. Then again, he's defied all the odds this year, so what do I know?
Keegan Bradley - A second consecutive tie for 16th has Bradley entering the playoff finale in the same position, meaning he's got to win and get a lot of help to get the $10 million grand prize.
Justin Rose - The U.S. Open champion is third in scoring average, eighth in sand save percentage and fourth in total driving. However, he has just one top-10 since his major win: a tie for second at The Barclays.