This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
TOUR Championship Betting Preview
Another exciting golf season concludes with this week's TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be in action, and the 30 players in the field will compete for a $15 million top prize in the no-cut event. Unlike a standard Tour event, this week features a staggered start, with the winners of the first two playoff events getting a head start. Patrick Cantlay will begin with a two-shot lead on the field at 10-under-par, and Tony Finau checks in next at 8-under. The starting scores continue to decrease all the way down to Nos. 26-30 in the standings, who will start at even par. The full starting leaderboard can be found here.
The low score at East Lake typically ranges between 10-15-under par, so it's certainly a difficult finale for those that have made it this far. The course is a par-70 that plays around 7,350 yards, and scoring chances are limited without a driveable par-4 and only a pair of par-5s. Another reason scores tend to not get out of hand is the thick fairway rough that makes it difficult to hit approaches anywhere near the hole. That will put a premium on driving accuracy – unlike the first two playoff events – with players needing all facets of their game to be clicking to contend.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 5:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Horses for the Course
The following five golfers, with a minimum of two appearances, have the lowest scoring average at East Lake since 2016:
East Lake has been like a second home to Schauffele, who has finished no worse than T7 in his four trips here. Although he couldn't make up a six-shot deficit to start the tournament last year, he beat the field by three strokes – the second time he's posted the lowest score in Atlanta. One thing that's eluded him during that hot stretch is the FedEx Cup Trophy, and he'll have to make up eight strokes to start this year. That will certainly be a tall task, but he's a fine play at 11-1 to have the lowest score without starting strokes. One player who has been able to hoist the trophy is Thomas, albeit with a second-place finish in 2017 before the format switched to its current form in 2019. We haven't seen him near the top of leaderboards that often since he won THE PLAYERS in March, with only one PGA Tour top-10 since. He'll start the week as the fifth betting choice at 16-1 while starting the tournament at four-under.
In the Right Form
These players gained the most strokes from tee to green, on a per-round basis, over their last 20 rounds:
It may seem unnecessary to discuss Rahm given that he seems to appear on any statistical list you can come up with, but that is truly a testament to how exceptional he's been this season. Despite not seeming to have his best golf last week, he still quietly recorded his sixth consecutive top-10 result. Even though he's starting the week with a four-shot deficit, Rahm is the slight favorite at 7-2 odds. Starting much further back is Berger, who at even-par isn't a contender but a player to keep an eye on to move up the leaderboard. With only two missed cuts this season, he's been one of the most consistent players on Tour. Berger also comes into the event in good form from tee-to-green and should benefit from going to a course that doesn't favor the longer hitters as much as it has the last two weeks.
Picks to Click
Outright Winner: 28-1
We'll look the keep the momentum going after hitting a winning Cantlay ticket last week, targeting Ancer, who is capable of making up the six-shot deficit. He showed massive improvement from his first start at the TOUR Championship in 2019, shooting nine shots better last year than his first go around. He comes into the event full of confidence, having picked up his first Tour win a few weeks back and posting a top-10 last week.
Winner Without Starting Strokes: 25-1
The staggered format makes the margin for error extremely slim for anyone starting outside the top-10 to make up enough ground to become the FedExCup Champion, and Hovland will start seven back. That makes him a better target to post the lowest score over an outright winner. East Lake tends to be a tough course for first-timers, and he managed to finish in the middle of the pack last year. He's one of the most accurate drivers in the field while still hitting it quite long.
Winner Without Starting Strokes: 30-1
Im is coming off a hot week at the BMW Championship in which he posted a third-place finish – his third consecutive week with a better result than the week before. He's dialed in with all aspects of his game and improved by seven shots in his second appearance at the event last year. I can't imagine that Im will be able to overcome the deficit to start the week, as he begins at three-under but I do expect him to go low.
Top-10 Finish: 7-1
Horschel limps into the finale after a couple of lackluster first two playoff performances but those weren't good course fits for his game. He starts the week tied for last at even-par, so he'll likely need to shoot somewhere around eight-under to make the top-10, which he's done in two of his last three trips to East Lake.
Top-5 Finish: 14-1
Conners is coming off finishes of T8 and T22, good results for a shorter hitter on a couple of longer tracks. It shows that the state of his game is clearly in good shape, and he'll need to be firing on all cylinders considering he's starting nine shots off the pace. He'll need to shoot about 10-under to get into the top-5, which seems a lot more likely than the 14-1 odds he's being given.
DeChambeau has never scored lower than Finau in their three appearances together at the Tour finale, so getting Finau in good form at plus money is a good way to go. Although both are long hitters, Finau tends to be less wild off-the-tee and a better course fit. DeChambeau will struggle to hit the ball close out of the fairway rough and his scrambling ability isn't his forte.
I'm willing to put my faith in Rahm despite starting four back of Cantlay. We've seen the leader at the start of the tournament lose it by the end of round one in both editions of the new format. Cantlay is coming off a career-best putting week that will be difficult to replicate.