Stricker’s case needs little explaining, having made the top ten in all three FedExCup events. The man to beat bar Mickelson, although he’s never seriously challenged for this particular title before.
The FedExCup leader thoroughly deserves his position after the most consistent season of anybody. He’s retained his form throughout the play-offs, sandwiching a win at the Barclays and third at Cog Hill with a reasonable 11th at Boston. This will, however, be his East Lake debut.
Following an overdue win at Cog Hill, Dustin is up to second in this FedExCup race, and another player in charge of his own fate. Last year’s debut, when finishing 27th out of 30, must be a worry, however.
Casey is my first reserve. He really should have won at Cog Hill, but at least that runners-up performance shows he’s back in form. A run of five straight top 25s in big events might be causing Colin Montgomerie some regret over his controversial decision to leave Casey out of the Ryder Cup side.
Had he not been disqualified for missing his pro-am tee time at the Barclays, Furyk would be heading to East Lake with a far better opportunity of FedExCup glory than implied by his current 11th place standing. His East Lake record is easily the best of any short-hitter, with four top sevens to his name.
Els was third at East Lake in 2000, but has never made the top five since. Ernie retains realistic FedExCup hopes thanks to his early season form, rather than anything recent.
Despite rarely looking back to his best, only Kuchar has more top tens this year than Goosen. His East Lake credentials are very strong, having won this title in 2004 and finished fourth in both the next two years.
The sole member of this year’s European Ryder Cup team in the line-up starts from a promising seventh spot on the FedExCup list. Luke was fifth here in 2006, but was twice well beaten on other East Lake visits.
The former Masters champion has a similar East Lake record to fellow short-hitter Donald. One excellent year, finishing a distant second in 2007, but outside the top ten in his other three attempts.
Villegas won this title in 2008, and finished ninth in the previous year, so certainly has the credentials for East Lake. Like the selections, Camilo’s high ball flight is ideal for this test. The problem is a disappointing run of summer form, but 11th last time out at Cog Hill could rekindle his hopes.
Mahan has had a very patchy season, recording brilliant wins in the Phoenix and Bridgestone Invitationals, but otherwise producing little else of note. He has one good East Lake performance out of three.
Starting the week in sixth place on the FedExCup list, Day is a live candidate. He certainly has the recent form to challenge, but could be up against it on his course debut.
Despite the fact he is one of the five players for whom victory this week would guarantee the FedExCup title, Hoffman remains a rank outsider on his East Lake debut.
Another rank outsider, but Palmer is in better form than most. Recent highlights include finishing runner-up at Firestone, fifth at the Barclays and 11th at TPC Boston. Palmer also produced one of the best final-day performances of the season, too, when winning the Sony Open.
Given the limited number of plausible candidates in this 30-man field, Crane is a big price at 100/1. He was supremely consistent earlier in the season, and while he has rather gone off the boil, seventh place on his sole previous visit to East Lake does bode well.
2010 STATS: -56pts
LONG-TERM ALREADY ADVISED
5pts MARTIN KAYMER TO WIN THE RACE TO DUBAI @ 9/1
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