The 2017 FedEx Cup culminates this week at the Tour Championship at East Lake in Georgia. Jordan Spieth leads the rankings but any of the players in the top five on the standings will claim the Cup if they win at East Lake.
Defending Tour Champion and FedEx Cup holder Rory McIlroy didn’t make it into the East Lake field this year so will not retain his title. The five men who will win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus that goes along with it with victory in the Tour Championship are: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm.
In theory, all 30 players in the field at East Lake have a chance to win the FedEx Cup but, for 30th ranked Jason Dufner to take the top prize, the leading players would have to suffer a terrible week. There are all sorts of possible scenarios though and everyone in the field has a lot to play for.
The Tour Championship began life as the Nabisco Championship in 1987 when Tom Watson was the winner. It became the Tour Championship in 1991 and has since been won by some greats of the game, including Paul Azinger, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson and Jordan Spieth. Last year Rory McIlroy fired a 64 in the final round then came through a four hole playoff against Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell.
East Lake Golf Club is one of the oldest in the USA and was the home club of legendary amateur Bobby Jones. The course has hosted the Tour Championship on 14 previous occasions and was the venue for the 1963 Ryder Cup.
In 2008 the course at East Lake was closed for a few months with a view towards recreating the layout’s original, firm and fast playing characteristics. The overhaul was a success. It’s a challenging track although low scoring is not uncommon. The winning score has been around the 10-under-par mark since the changes were made. Last year the winning total was 12-under.
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The weather forecast is mixed. Thunderstorms might play a part on Friday but they shouldn’t be prolonged.
Venue: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia
Date: Sep 21-24
Course stats: par 70, 7,385 yards
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy (-12)
Thursday 21 – Sky Sports Golf from 6.30pm
Friday 22 – Sky Sports Golf from 6.30pm
Saturday 23 – Sky Sports Golf from 5.30pm
Sunday 24 – Sky Sports Golf from 5.30pm
The top five – Jordan, Justin, DJ, Leishman and Rahm can all win the FedEx Cup with victory at East Lake. Who might deny them a Tour Championship triumph?
Justin Rose – He’s going into an event he enjoys on the back of a great result in the BMW – tied second behind Marc Leishman. He has twice been second at East Lake and his worst finish in his last four starts is sixth place.
Justin Rose swing sequence:
Jason Day – He hadn’t been on peak form for much of the season but has begun to find his game in the playoffs with top-10s in three of his last four starts. He has a good record at East Lake.
Patrick Cantlay – One somewhat out of left field, Cantlay is making his East Lake debut. But he’s a hugely talented player and has been showing great game in recent weeks: Tied 10th, tied 13th and tied 9th in the three playoff events… He might be a surprise package…
Key holes: 9th. A 235-yard par 3 with deep bunkers left and right of a two-tiered green. When the wind’s against, many will need a fairway wood to get up here. A par is a tough ask.
18th. A lengthy par-5 that can be stretched to 600 yards, this finishing hole will offer the power hitters the chance of reaching in two. It’s a testing second though with bunkers guarding the front part of the green.
Skills required: Handling the pressure. With such vast sums of money on the line, the tension tends to be pretty high down the stretch in this event. The man who can put that pressure to one side will stand on top at the end this week.