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The Tour Championship Preview: Title Time

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Dustin Johnson doesn't seem like a person who tries to find the spotlight, but time and again, the spotlight finds him. As pointed out on the telecast last weekend, the most notable player of the 2010 season might end up being Dustin Johnson. First there was an epic collapse to start the final round of the U.S. Open when he held a commanding 54-hole lead. Then there was the infamous trip into the land of a thousand bunkers at the PGA Championship. As disappointing as his year has been to this point, there is still time to salvage the season. With a win this week, Johnson can align himself with Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh as the only golfers to hoist the FedExCup trophy. He'll have quite a fight on his hand, though, as Matt Kuchar looks like a man on a mission. And guess who's lying in the weeds in the fourth position? None other than Steve Stricker. Stricker hasn't made much noise this postseason, but he's played well enough each of the last three weeks to earn a chance at the championship by winning this week. If there's any rhyme or reason to this season, however, Dustin Johnson will come out on top. After all, he's been in the spotlight because he's played well enough to get noticed. Hopefully, he'll get noticed for all the right reasons this week.

What the BMW Championship means:

Matt Kuchar: Kuchar was under the weather last week, and though he could have taken it easy with the knowledge that a win this week would still give him the championship, he decided to gut it out and give his all. The result was another strong finish.

Paul Casey: Casey spent the first two weeks of the FedExCup in the background, but with his runner-up finish last week, he's now one of five golfers with a chance to capture the title with a victory at The TOUR Championship. I have a feeling that Colin Montgomerie is secretly hoping that doesn't happen.
Rory McIlroy: McIlroy fell out of the top-30 last week, but, in hindsight, it's not much of a surprise. After a poor opening round, the prospect of heading home to prep for the Ryder Cup probably seemed more appealing than fighting a losing battle in the States.

This week: THE TOUR Championship

Last Year: Phil Mickelson shot a final-round 65 on his way to a three-stroke victory over Tiger Woods.

Players to Consider:

  1. Phil Mickelson
    Mickelson showed a little fight last week at the BMW, and he's returning to an event that he won last season. Mickelson could win this week and still fall short of the FedExCup championship, just like he did last year.

  2. Matt Kuchar
    Kuchar was under the weather last week yet still managed a third-place finish. There's no doubt that Kuchar wants this championship, and, if healthy, he's probably the favorite this week.

  3. Dustin Johnson
    Johnson hasn't exactly excelled under pressure this week, but the good news is he's not the leader heading into The Tour Championship - he's in second place. That said, if he's leading heading into Sunday, it could get dicey.

  4. Steve Sticker
    Stricker played well enough the last three weeks to earn a top-5 spot entering this week. The question, though, is whether he turn it up a notch and win this week. He's certainly capable, and, at worst, he'll be in the mix.

  5. Adam Scott
    Just like Stricker, Scott has been very consistent the last three weeks, just not quite to the same level. If nothing else, expect another good effort from Scott this week and a top-10 finish.

Players to Avoid:

  1. Geoff Ogilvy
    Ogilvy's momentum from a strong finish two weeks ago has already started to fade. He finished in the top-25 last week, but considering the field size of 70, that's not exactly anything to write home about.

  2. Jeff Overton
    Overton continued his postseason slide last week when he finished 57th of 70. At this point, Overton is starting to look like the weak link on the Ryder Cup team.

  3. Charley Hoffman
    The only one of the top-5 entering this week with little to no chance of hoisting the FedExCup trophy. Hoffman regressed from a win two weeks ago to a 30th-place finish last week.

  4. Bo Van Pelt
    Van Pelt is the final man in the field this week and is coming off a week where he posted four rounds in the 70s. The last of which was a brutal final-round of 77 last Sunday.

  5. Jason Day
    This is probably a good time to remind everyone that there are only 30 players in the field this week, and this list comprises nearly 17 percent of the field. Still, I have to reach a little to find players to avoid. In Day's case, he may have hit the wall last week after a brilliant couple weeks.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week: THE TOUR Championship

Group A

  1. Phil Mickelson
  2. Steve Stricker

The selections seem pretty clear cut in Group A this week. Mickelson is the defending champ, and Stricker has been consistently solid the last three weeks.

Group B

  1. Adam Scott
  2. Dustin Johnson
  3. Jim Furyk
  4. Nick Watney

Group B lacks firepower this week as only Dustin Johnson looks like a high-upside selection this week. Other than Johnson, we have the steady-but-not-spectacular Adam Scott and a couple golfers who have played well enough to crack the top-30 but don't seem to be a threat to win - Furyk and Watney. If you think it sounds like I'm not thrilled about the selection in Group B, you are correct. Nobody other than Johnson and Scott jumped out at me this week.

Group C

  1. Paul Casey
  2. Matt Kuchar

This is the week that Kuchar ascends to the next level. He really impressed me last week, and I think he comes out on top in the end. He may not win this week, but if he finishes runner-up behind Mickelson or someone else outside the top-5, he'll win the FedExCup championship. Casey was a surprise last week as he hadn't shown much prior to his runner-up finish. If he's still on form this week, he could be a surprise FedExCup champion.

Starters Round One

  1. Phil Mickelson
  2. Dustin Johnson
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Matt Kuchar

Even though Stricker is one of the top-5 entering this week, Mickelson gets the start because he's the defending champ and played well last week. As good as Stricker is, Mickelson's upside is a bit higher; so when he's on, he's starting. The starters in Group B are pretty easy as Scott and Johnson seem to be above the rest. Scott looks to be fading just a little, but that's not the case with Johnson who's saving his best for last. Tough call in Group C as Casey is coming off a great week. But as good as Casey played, Kuchar was just one spot behind and is much more reliable.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Funny thing happened last week. I fully intended to start Stricker at some point, but it never happened. I had Woods as my other A player, and other than the first round, Woods kept up with Stricker the entire way. That probably won't be the case this week as even though Mickelson is a solid pick, I'll have to start Stricker before the weekend. As it stands now, it looks like Scott and Johnson will get the majority of playing time in Group B this week. That could change if Watney or Furyk show a spark that has been absent the last couple weeks - I'm not planning on it. Kuchar starts round one, and Casey will likely start round two this week. That will free up the weekend to start whomever I please. My guess is Kuchar will pull ahead of Casey heading into the weekend, which means he'll start Saturday and Sunday.