The final event of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs, the Tour Championship, gets underway this Thursday at Georgia’s fabled East Lake Golf Club.
The top 22 players in the world will all compete in the 30-man event, with the winner receiving $1,440,000 of a staggering $8,000,000 tournament prize fund.
What’s more, the overall winner of the FedEx Cup will earn an additional $10m dollars.
The top five in the standings – Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker – enter the tournament knowing a win will secure overall victory, regardless of other results.
Last year, Bill Haas won from 15th position as the top five faltered, but, given the strength of the leaders this time around, such an eventuality seems highly implausible.
Whilst I wouldn’t expect someone outside the current top five to win the FedEx Cup, everyone in the field this week has a chance to win the tournament.
East Lake has hosted the Tour Championship every year since 2004 (as well as in 1998, 2000 and 2002) and, as such, most of the field have significant experience of playing the 7,154-yard par-70 Donald Ross design.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are the two favourites, at 4/1 and 5/1 respectively, but there simply isn’t any value in such prices, even if they are the ones to beat.
Luke Donald, at 16/1 with Ladbrokes, is someone I like the look of this week. He hasn’t finished outside the top 30 in the play-offs – including a top ten at The Barclays – he is 23rd in Par-4 Scoring Average and second in Strokes Gained – Putting. He finished third last year and second in 2010, and enters the week – like Haas last year – 15th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Sergio Garcia is generously priced this week at 25/1 with Ladbrokes. He finished first at the Wyndham, third at the Barclays and 24th at BMW Championship – his last three outings. Last year, he was 144th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained – Putting, but now sits 18th. He is also 12th in the All-Around ranking and a tremendous driver of the golf ball. What’s more, he finished fourth at East Lake in 2007 and second in 2008.
Ernie Els, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, is a good price, despite his uninspiring recent form. He ranks 23rd in both Scoring Average and Par-4 Scoring Average, and no one in the field has more experience at East Lake. It is a course he feels extremely comfortable on, as he showed when finishing seventh in 2010, ninth in 2009 and sixth in 2008.
Tour Championship advised bets: