We have made it. The final PGA Tour event of the 2016-17 season is upon us before we flip it to the 2017-18 season in a few weeks. We have the 30 best players of the year -- as designated by FedEx Cup points earned --in Atlanta this week, which means this tournament should be full of all kinds of drama.
Let's take a look.
What: Tour Championship | Where: Atlanta, Georgia | When: Sept. 21-24
Participants and odds
- Jordan Spieth: 5-1
- Dustin Johnson: 15-2
- Rickie Fowler: 10-1
- Justin Thomas: 11-1
- Jon Rahm: 12-1
- Jason Day: 12-1
- Justin Rose: 12-1
- Marc Leishman: 18-1
Field strength: A-
We're missing big names like Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson because they didn't qualify for the year-ending event, but this is still a high-quality field with guys playing some of their best golf of the entire season.
Three stories to watch
1. All the money: PGA Tour golfers play for loads of cash every week, but this event is outrageous, even for them. I mentioned that $34 million number earlier. That's broken up into a $9 million purse for this tournament and a $25 million bonus to be split among the 30 players with the top two receiving $13 million of it. Even for rich athletes, that's a boatload of money at stake. It's a big payday for the caddies, too.
2. Two-time champion: Only Tiger Woods has ever won two FedEx Cups. Stunningly, only Jordan Spieth and Brandt Snedeker have ever successfully reached East Lake following their win the year before to attempt to defend. Last year's winner, McIlroy, fell short this time around. That means Spieth is the only player in the field who could join Woods as a two-time winner of $10 million. And he's the favorite.
3. How deep can you go? We know the top five are guaranteed of the FedEx Cup if they win the Tour Championship. We know everyone in the top 10 has a chance. How far back can a winner come from, though? The deepest anyone has won from was Bill Haas in 2012. Haas came into the final event at No. 25 in the FedEx Cup standings, and leader Webb Simpson finished 22nd at the Tour Championship. Haas beat him by 15 FedEx Cup points.
The points have been changed since then so FedEx Cup leader Jordan Spieth wouldn't have to finish quite as low as Simpson for No. 25 Sergio Garcia to win, but it would still be a stretch. Since that event, nobody has won it from outside the top 10. I would call it a pretty big surprise for somebody No. 11 or worse to walk away with $10 million.
As an example, here are all the events that must take place for Patrick Reed, who is currently No. 23, to win the FedEx Cup (in addition to Reed winning the Tour Championship).
- No. 1 must finish 15th or worse
- No. 2 must finish T5 or worse
- No. 3 must finish in a 3-way tie for third or worse
- No. 4 must finish T3 or worse
- No. 5 must finish in a 3-way tie for second or worse
- No. 6 must finish T2 or worse
- 2016: Rory McIlroy
- 2015: Jordan Spieth
- 2014: Henrik Stenson
- 2013: Billy Horschel
- 2012: Brandt Snedeker
A who's who list of studs.
Let's look at the picks this week.
Winner: Rickie Fowler is my pick, mostly because I'm stubborn. I've said he was going to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs from the beginning, and I'm sticking with it. Fowler didn't make it to East Lake last year, but he does have a top 10 here in his career. He's also No. 2 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained. The two guys sandwiching him (Spieth and Johnson) have a combined seven wins. Fowler has just one, but I'm betting that evens out this weekend. All he needs is a T2 or worse finish from Spieth to also take home the FedEx Cup. Odds: 10-1
Lock for top 10: Jordan Spieth finished outside the top 10 here last year, but he won it back in 2015. He's also No. 1 in adjusted scoring in these playoffs so far, according to Rob Bolton. His finishes since the U.S. Open look like this: 1, 1, T13, T28, 2, 2, T7. That's pretty great. Odds: 5-1
Sleeper: Patrick Cantlay is my guy. He has little chance of winning the FedEx Cup, and there really aren't any sleepers this time of year. But he's been monumental throughout the season, somehow making it to East Lake after playing just 12 tournaments this year. He is currently No. 7 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained overall. Odds: 35-1