The 2012 FedEx Cup will be decided this week at the PGA Tour Championship by Coca Cola at East Lake in Georgia. Rory McIlroy heads the standings but any of the top five will take the FedEx Cup if they win at East Lake.
It’s set to be a thrilling conclusion to this year’s FedEx Cup with an all-star cast list in the top-10 of the standings. After two straight victories in the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship, World Number 1 Rory McIlroy will be hot favourite to collect the $10 million first prize. He controls his own fate and, if he picks up a third straight win; nobody can touch him.
But Tiger Woods in 2nd, Nick Watney in 3rd, Phil Mickelson in 4th and Brandt Snedeker in 5th would all win the FedEx Cup if they took the victory at East Lake. That means it’s all to play for and it looks like being a fantastic tournament.
In last year’s Tour Championship, Bill Haas caught Hunter Mahan with a final round 68 then defeated his countryman in the resulting playoff. It was enough for Haas to become the 5th FedEx Cup Champion. Haas hasn’t made it through to the Tour Championship so he won’t be defending his title in 2012.
First contested in 2007, Tiger Woods has twice picked up the $10 million (2007 and 2009,) Vijay Singh claimed the prize in 2008 and Jim Furyk was victorious in 2010.
With the Ryder Cup just a week away, the players from Europe and the US involved in the great biennial match will be looking to fine-tune their games in this event.
From Europe, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood will tee it up at East Lake. Westwood has a fair chance of taking the FedEx Cup title but he would have to rely on a minor stumble from those ahead of him in the standings.
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 10 previous occasions and was the venue for the 1963 Ryder Cup.
In 2008 the course 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 where super-low scoring is not the norm. The winning score tends to be around the eight-under-par mark and that has been the number in each of the last two seasons.
Venue: East Lake GC, Atlanta, Georgia
Date: September 20-23
Course stats: par 70, 7,154 yards
Purse: $8,000,000 Winner: $1,440,000
Defending Champion: Bill Haas (-8)
Thursday 20 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Friday 21 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 6pm
Saturday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 3pm
Sunday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 4.30pm
Everyone’s talking about Rory at the moment. With two wins on the spin, he’s looking almost unbeatable. Who might step up to the plate and challenge him?
Tiger Woods – The former World Number 1 has finished either first or second six times at East Lake, shooting in the 60s in 31 of his 48 rounds. He looks to be very close to returning to his brilliant best and this tournament would be a great place for him to do it.
Dustin Johnson – The powerful American started the season slowly but is finishing 2012 like a steam train. He’s been tied 3rd, tied 4th and tied 6th in the three playoff events to this point and will be looking for another top-10 at the very least. Expect something a little better.
Lee Westwood – By his high standards, 2012 hasn’t been a stellar year for the Englishman. A victory here would go along way towards rectifying that. If he wins and McIlroy finishes 3rd or worse, Woods is tied second or worse and Watney finishes 2nd or worse, he could still take the FedEx Cup. European Ryder Cup fans will be looking for Westwood to peak at the right time and, with a tied second last time out at the BMW, he could be doing just that.
Key hole: 18th. 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 here is a tough ask, particularly if it’s for victory on Sunday afternoon; even more so if it would be worth $10 million.
Skills required: Handling the pressure. With such vast sums of money on the line, the tension tends to be almost unbearable 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. And…
Beating Rory. The World Number 1 has been on imperious form of late and, if he brings his “A” game this week, he will be a tough nut to crack.