There is one tournament left in the PGA Tour season which means that someone will leave Atlanta on Sunday evening $18 million richer when the leading 30 players in the FedExCup rankings head to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
That man was Patrick Cantlay last year when he converted the lead he took into the week into the title. He has qualified to attempt to defend his crown but there are a host of other star names eyeing up the bounty themselves.
2021 – Patrick Cantlay
2020 – Dustin Johnson
2019 – Rory McIlroy
2018 – Tiger Woods
2017 – Xander Schauffele
2016 – Rory McIlroy
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Billy Horschel
2013 – Henrik Stenson
2012 – Brandt Snedeker
As ever we go to East Lake Country Club to determine the latest multi-millionaire in the sport. We’ve had a different mix of courses in the play-offs so far. The trend of the playoff events so far have been a tougher setup than before and we’re going to get any different here. We are back to ball striking purity and a solid test of all departments of the game on a track that will see good shots rewarded but bad ones penalised.
The course is a par 70 and it can stretch out to 7,362 yards, although this time of year the air is always quite humid in this part of the world so the track is unlikely to play its full yardage. A look back in history will tell you there is nothing for insane power here, instead we need players who keep the ball in play and can have a good week on the greens. Accuracy into the greens is probably the most important factor here as it isn’t the easiest course to scramble on.
30 players have made it through to this final event and in a way they can all play with some freedom because they are guaranteed $500,000 just for showing up this week. Only 29 will have a tee time though as Will Zalatoris has pulled out with injury. It is Scottie Scheffler who is in control of his own destiny after the good season he has had. He’ll begin two shots ahead of the winner from last week in the form of Patrick Cantlay. Xander Schauffele and Sam Burns are their closest challengers.
There are plenty of household names in the field as you would expect this week with the best 30 players of the season on show. Cameron Smith, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Thomas have all won majors this season and would be hoping to add the Tour Championship title to that. Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth and Victor Hovland all head to Atlanta looking to turn a good season into a special one.
We are once again using the handicap system that got used last season with the leader of the point scoring getting an early advantage and the players who just snuck into the field starting a good distance back, in line with how they have performed over the course of the campaign. The leaderboard will start this week as follows:
East Lake starting scores:
-4 Cam Rory Finau Straka Im
-3 Rahm Stallings JT Young Fitz
-2 Homa Hideki Spieth Niemann Hovland
-1 Morikawa Horschel Hoge Conners Harman
E Lee Piston Theegala Scott Wise
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) August 21, 2022
Scottie Scheffler is a 9/4 favourite to convert his two-shot lead into the title this week. Scheffler was third in the BMW Championship last week which was something of a return to form given that it was his first top five finish since the US Open. He has had a couple of positive spins around here so with a two shot lead he is going to be hard to beat but last week was the first week in five where he has gained strokes with the putter and if he reverts to the previous form then he could yet be overhauled.
Patrick Cantlay is 4/1 to make a successful defence of the title. If he is going to do that then he is going to have to come from two shots down to Scheffler. The positive for the defending champion is that he is ahead of the whole field bar one heading into the week so if Scheffler isn’t at it then it will be all on Cantlay. Cantlay prepared for this tournament by winning the BMW Championship last week when he was extremely clutch down the stretch He put three terrible showings around here behind him to shoot the fourth lowest 72 hole score last year. He is a live danger for sure.
Xander Schauffele will begin the week four strokes behind Scottie Scheffler and two behind Cantlay and is 13/2 to give them that head start and get the better of them and win the title. His record around here is pretty strong. He has twice shot the lowest 72 hole score around here, finished second in that one more time and was third last year. His other effort saw him finish seventh so he excels around here. He was third in the BMW last week and looks in top form but whether a four shot gap on Scheffler is too big remains to be seen.
Rory McIlroy starts the week on -4 which is six shots behind Scheffler and four behind Cantlay and he is 9/1 to walk off with the bounty. He has been on my TV screen more than anyone this week though so how much he has been able to prepare for what is a pretty tough test of golf remains to be seen. McIlroy did kill it from tee to green last week and has twice shot the lowest 72 hole score here so he might not need a lot of preparation but it is still a concern.
Tour Championship Winner Bet
I’ll go with one in the Tour Championship winner market and that is Justin Thomas who seems to save himself for East Lake. Thomas has been here six times and he has finished second, third and fourth in the lowest score for the week and if he is the second or third lowest here then even from -3 he can still win this tournament. He starts seven behind Scheffler and five behind Cantlay but nobody else is more than three in front of him so if anything happens to the front two on the leaderboard Thomas can be the one to capitalise.
This is a player who has won a major this year and although he ended up stinking the place out at the BMW Championship last week, at the St Jude Championship the week before he rated third in strokes gained from tee to green which is so much of the test this week. He has been here on six previous occasions so he’ll have a huge advantage of those who are on their first or second attempt. Thomas is a player who steps up in the biggest events and there aren’t many bigger than this so at 25/1 I’ll pay to see how many of those we can climb over.
72 Hole Lowest Score Betting
The other market in play this week is the lowest 72 hole score one. It is easy to think that the winner of this wins the FedExCup but that isn’t necessarily the case as often it is a player from down the pecking order without much competitive pressure who goes the lowest for the week. That was the case with Kevin Na who took this market down last year and I fancy Aaron Wise might follow suit and repeat the feat in his second spin around this track.
Wise has the perfect profile to go well around here and he is in good form having finished T13 at the Wyndham and then T15 at the BMW Championship last week which would have been a lot better had it not been for a final round 73. He has ranked in the top 16 in GIR in three of his last four starts and is picking up shots on the field from tee to green on most weeks. He starts on level par so he can only dream of winning the Tour Championship but that means he can go out and shoot four decent rounds of golf. He was T15 in his only previous spin here in 2018 but he’s a better player now. At 40/1 I’ll pay to see how he goes.
Back J.Thomas to win Tour Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-5)
Back him here:
Back A.Wise 72 hole lowest score (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Coral (1/5 1-5)