2019 Tour Championship picks, predictions, odds: Ranking the field at East Lake for the FedEx Cup

We've finally arrived at the thrilling conclusion to the new FedEx Cup playoffs as the 2019 Tour Championship proves to be one of the most unique tournaments we've experienced in the modern postseason era. A pre-tournament adjustment to the scores has set the stage for a four-day race to see who can go the lowest.

BMW Championship winner Justin Thomas looks to carry his momentum -- and the advantage on the leaderboard -- on to Atlanta in search of his second FedEx Cup title. Let's take a look at this week's 2018-19 PGA Tour finale.

Event Information

What: Tour Championship | When: Aug. 22-25
Where: East Lake Golf Club -- Atlanta, Georgia

Ranking the field 

  1. Brooks Koepka (9/2): The world No. 1 has a chance to prove it against the season's best after two straight finishes outside the top 20. 
  2. Rory McIlroy (8-1): McIlroy has won at East Lake before and while it isn't a major championship, a Tour Championship win to conclude the year could fill out a 2019 resume that's going to stack up well against anyone in the world not named Brooks Koepka. 
  3. Patrick Cantlay (9/2): The pressure that Cantlay put on JT showed the hunger of a young star who is aching to win at one of these events. It would not surprise anyone if he steals the show and beats out a leaderboard of major winners. 
  4. Justin Thomas (9/4): Only dropping JT down to fourth because A) last week's win was powered by a ridiculous 61 on Saturday and B) we're not sure what life is like starting at 10-under. 
  5. Dustin Johnson (25-1): Where's DJ been? It'd be great to see him finish strong after failing to recreate the start he had to the 2019 season. 
  6. Webb Simpson (25-1): One of the hottest players over the last five or six weeks has been on this stage before and should be considered a threat to the players at the top. 
  7. Jon Rahm (16-1): Back-to-back top five finishes at the Northern Trust and BMW Championship have Rahm rounding into form at the right time. 
  8. Patrick Reed (16-1): Can Captain America surge forward and make his argument for inclusion on the Presidents Cup team on the course this week?
  9. Tony Finau (40-1): Few players on the PGA Tour can score like Finau, who is still looking for that breakthrough victory on a big stage. 
  10. Adam Scott (40-1): This has been a stellar season for Scott and I think it's gone under the radar. We would definitely see that change and his 2019 reframed if he can charge from the back of the pack and win this week. 

Field strength -- A-: There's no Tiger Woods and no Jordan Spieth, but the process of elimination makes this field annually one of the best we'll see all year. What this field lacks in numbers it makes up for in stakes, as 29 golfers take aim at chasing down Justin Thomas over four rounds at East Lake. 

Three things to know

1. The scoring is going to take some adjustment for fans: I'll miss the wild mid-round FedEx Cup points calculations as the Tour Championship enters Year 1 with its new system, designed to produce a tournament winner that will also claim the FedEx Cup. So we won't need any fancy math or projections that hang on every putt, but the players near the back of the field will need to pile up birdies and do so quickly in order to put some pressure on the players at the top of the leaderboard. Justin Thomas joked that he'd never slept on a Wednesday lead before, but I'm more concerned with the pressure on those players starting the tournament more than a handful of strokes back from the leaders. 

2. Jockeying for Presidents Cup spots: Woods won't be back at East Lake, but there's no doubt he'll be paying close attention to the Americans in contention as he ponders the captain's picks for this year's Presidents Cup. The captain's picks won't be made until the week of Nov. 4, but this is the final big-time competition for players like Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner to make their case on the course. 

3. Brooks vs. Rory: The Player of the Year race is probably over and tilted in favor of Koepka thanks to his PGA Championship victory, top-five finishes at the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship and a WGC win in Memphis. But the back-and-forth between two of the year's hottest players could end up providing some thrills as both golfers start with a good chance to win the $15 million prize. Both players have four major championships and both players are going to start within five strokes of JT but Brooks has yet to win the FedEx Cup while Rory won it in 2016. 

Past winners 

  • 2018: Tiger Woods 
  • 2017: Xander Schauffele 
  • 2016: Rory McIlroy 
  • 2015: Jordan Spieth 
  • 2014: Billy Horschel 

Tour Championship picks 

Winner: Brooks Koepka (9/2) -- Going to stick with my pre-playoffs pick of Koepka to win, guessing that he is the most likely player to start near the top of the leaderboard and take the lead to an out of reach place by going super low on Thursday. If Koepka fires a 63 on the first day of play like he did at the PGA Championship, he'll be able to defend the lead the rest of the weekend en route to a win. 

Top 10: Justin Thomas (9/4) -- There's an absurd advantage here for JT, and I'm guessing it might mess with his head a little after about 27 holes or so. Thomas admitted that he forgot what it was like to defend a lead en route to his win at the BMW Championship -- his first win of the 2019 season -- and if he starts doing too much math in his head I don't think he'll win at East Lake. That said, the advantage also helps him be a lock for the top 10. 

Sleeper: Justin Rose (40-1) -- No one has ever won the FedEx Cup in back-to-back years, but those trends might be worth tossing to the side in light of the changes to the format. Rose finished T10 at East Lake in 2017 and T4 last year even with a 73 on Sunday. If Rose, who will start all the way back at 2-under on the leaderboard, can put together four rounds of 66 or better he might have a chance to chase down the leaders. 

So who wins the final tournament of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and which long shots stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the full Tour Championship projected leaderboard from the model that's nailed six golf majors heading into the weekend, and find out.

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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