TOUR Championship – Atlanta, GA
East Lake Golf Club (7,385 yards, par 70)
$1,575,000 and 2000 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Alas, after a year that encapsulated 46 point-earning events, the final 30 who survived the season and first three legs of the playoffs will duke it out at East Lake for the official season-long FedEx Cup. The winner of this coveted cup brings home some serious bacon which includes a $10 million bonus and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. The last seven FedEx Cup winners won the Tour Championship to do so; another repeat of this would mean combined earnings of a whopping $11.5 million at week’s end. The par-70 East Lake is famously known as Bobby Jones' childhood stomping grounds and hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup, but it wasn’t until a 1993 restoration in honor of Jones that the course was put back on the map. As a unique quirk installed in recent years, the FedEx Cup points reset for this final leg to mathematically ensure each player at least one scenario where they could win the FedEx Cup. Most likely to win are top five Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman, and Jon Rahm, who are guaranteed the crown with a win this week. All others will need to win and get help from those ranked higher than them to claim the massive grand prize. Only Tiger Woods has won the FedEx Cup twice, but front-runner Jordan Spieth will have a legitimate shot to match this feat with a victory this week.
Prior Decade Champions
2016 – Rory McIlroy
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Billy Horschel
2013 – Henrik Stenson
2012 – Brandt Snedeker
2011 – Bill Haas
2010 – Jim Furyk
2009 – Phil Mickelson
2008 – Camilo Villegas
2007 – Tiger Woods
Key Stats to Winning at East Lake
· Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
· Average Finish in first three playoff events
As the annual stop for the Tour Championship since 2004, East Lake has produced elite champions who happen to know a bit about striking it well tee-to-green. Very few exceptions like Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker have strayed from this profile. In a field of the best 30 players from the 2016-17 wraparound season, the winner is almost certain to be an elite ball striker who happens to bring a hot putter to Atlanta this week. As we’ve seen in the playoffs, players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Marc Leishman who have found form the last month are obvious targets that can’t be ignored.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jordan Spieth, $9,300 – Spieth holds favorite status as the 2015 champion at East Lake and leader of the FedEx Cup standings heading into this week. Though his game was a bit off at the BMW last week, his ability to score when the pressure is at its highest is Spieth’s hallmark.
Justin Thomas, $9,000 – Thomas is enjoying a banner year that includes five victories and a major. After a less than motivating BMW Championship where he finished T47, Thomas will look to return to top form with the FedEx Cup and Player of the Year honors on the line.
Rickie Fowler, $8,700 – Rickie has slipped in the shadows of Spieth, Johnson, and Thomas but it should be known he’s posted top-20s in each of the playoffs events, including a T2 last week. Fowler has earned just one top-10 in three tries at East Lake, but he’s almost a lock to earn his second this week.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Paul Casey, $8,000 – Casey quietly earned top-5s in the first two playoff events and represents tremendous top-5 potential this week having posted finishes of fourth or fifth in all three career appearances at East Lake, including the last two years.
Justin Rose, $7,700 – Rose easily holds the most decorated record at East Lake with top-6 efforts his last four starts. After a solid last couple weeks of top-10s, it’s easy to envision the Englishman in the hunt on Sunday afternoon.
Kevin Chappell, $6,700 – Chappell was just two holes away from capturing the Tour Championship last season, and this year returns ranked 19th heading into the week. Though he has virtually no shot to win the FedEx Cup, his elite ball-striking fits the profile, making Chappell a great value option.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
All 30 players get four rounds, but to make some hay you’re going to need to pick the winner and at least two others from the top-5. Knowing this you’re almost obligated to side with one top gun in either Spieth, Johnson, or Thomas and round out your lineup from there. In an event like this, anything more than one contrarian choice is a fool’s errand so don’t overthink it.