It’s here. The end of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season has arrived (which is crazy), and 30 golfers will fill out the field at East Lake this week for the grand finale of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the season, the Tour Championship. In all, over $30 million will be at stake for the contenders, most of whom will also contend in next week’s Ryder Cup.
But first, let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Tour Championship | When: Sept. 20-23
Where: East Lake Golf Club — Atlanta, Georgia
Ranking the field (odds)
Field strength — A: It’s pretty great. The biggest names not playing are Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia, but pretty much every other top star and superstar will be in attendance. It’s an elite field playing for elite money.
Three stories to watch
1. First or repeat? I’m interested by who wins the Tour Championship, but I’m really interested by who wins the FedEx Cup. Will we get our first-ever back-to-back winner in Justin Thomas? Will Bryson DeChambeau (of all people?) get his first and bag eight figures in the process? I know money has become a little less meaningful for a lot of the top players, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any value. A $10 million check is still a $10 million check, and whether you’ve already made a king’s ransom (like Dustin Johnson) or you have yet to stack up a ton of dough (DeChambeau), it’s still life-changing money regardless.
2. Will Tiger win? Making it here is an accomplishment for Woods this season. Heck, making it is an accomplishment for Woods this season. But how great would it be if Tiger was able to touch off his first full season in what feels about two decades (it’s really only been five years) with a victory in this elite field event? Whatever he does this week will be a talking point going into 2019. It will either be, “He won the Tour Championship, I think he’s primed for a big year!” or, “When will Tiger get his first post-comeback victory?”
3. Nightmare scenario? There aren’t that many, but I’m here for them all. The biggest one is probably Tony Finau — currently No. 3 in the FedEx Cup rankings — winning the FedEx Cup and $10 million . How great would that be? Finau has enough points that he could theoretically finish second and, depending on what everyone behind him does and who wins, take home the cup and $10 million. The other (lesser) scenario is Billy Horschel winning another FedEx Cup (he’s No. 9 in the rankings) and being left off another Ryder Cup team. That would be less controversial because he simply hasn’t been as good as the 12 on the team, but it would be no less humorous.
A past champ at East Lake has the best scoring average of anyone on the PGA Tour since the PGA Championship began: @BillyHo_Golf (67.1).
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) September 17, 2018
- 2017: Xander Schauffele
- 2016: Rory McIlroy
- 2015: Jordan Spieth
- 2014: Billy Horschel
- 2013: Henrik Stenson
Tour Championship picks
Winner: It seems too easy. Two straight runner-up finishes and five top 10s in the last six years at East Lake. He certainly seems like the most locked-in player in the world right now.
Top 10: I’m going pretty chalk-y with my picks this week. The wrist ailment concerns me a bit, but my position on J.T. hasn’t changed since the beginning of the playoffs. I trust him as much or more than all the other top guys in golf right now.
Sleeper: Simpson has been really phenomenal all season long, and he’s excelled at East Lake in the past. He’ll need help because he’s currently No. 11 in the FedEx Cup rankings, but players ranked a lot farther down than Simpson have won the FedEx Cup in the past.