Spieth, Johnson and Thomas: Who will win the FedEx Cup and take home $10 million?
Top five players in the FedEx Cup standings going into the Tour Championship control their own destiny
There are numerous year-end races going on in professional golf right now. There is the race for the Presidents Cup team (which just ended), the race for the Player of the Year award (which effectively ended with Justin Thomas' win last week) and the race for $10 million which goes to the FedEx Cup winner.
Anybody in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings going into the Tour Championship controls their own destiny for winning $10 million. That is, as long as you're No. 5 or better in the standings, if you win the Tour Championship you also take home $10 million. If you're outside of the top five, you'll need some help.
Once the Tour Championship hits, the FedEx Cup points (which have been accumulating since last fall) reset. This is to keep somebody who has won, say, 10 times in a year from wrapping things up early and rendering the Tour Championship uninteresting.
There is still one tournament to go (the BMW Championship next week in Chicago) before that final five is finalized, but here is what the top 10 looks like right now.
- Jordan Spieth
- Justin Thomas
- Dustin Johnson
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Jon Rahm
- Rickie Fowler
- Paul Casey
- Marc Leishman
- Brooks Koepka
- Pat Perez
For the sake of context, it should be noted that No. 6 Fowler cannot catch Thomas, Spieth or Johnson even with a win. Those three guys are safely in the top five. Only Matsuyama and Rahm can be overtaken by those just outside the top five.
It should also be noted that in the last five years, only one player outside the top five going to East Lake (Rory McIlroy last year) has won the FedEx Cup.
In fact, let's look at where each of the 10 FedEx Cup winners have been ranked going into the final tournament of the season dating back to the genesis of this event in 2007 when Tiger Woods took home the trophy.
- 2007: Tiger Woods (1)
- 2008: Vijay Singh (1)
- 2009: Tiger Woods (1)
- 2010: Jim Furyk (11)
- 2011: Bill Haas (25)
- 2012: Brandt Snedeker (5)
- 2013: Henrik Stenson (2)
- 2014: Billy Horschel (2)
- 2015: Jordan Spieth (2)
- 2016: Rory McIlroy (6)
The PGA Tour has gone with a variety of models over the years to redistribute points going into the final event, but they seemed to have settled on one in the last few years that has more accurately rewarded the best player throughout the playoffs while still keeping the final tournament dramatic.
With the way the top three players are playing right now, it seems fairly likely that our $10 million man at the end of the year is going to be one of them or Rahm. Those four have been beaten by just 16 total players in the first two playoff events, and at least three of them have finished in the top five both weeks. Matsuyama has also had a great year, but he hasn't played that well in the playoffs.
Of course somebody from outside the top five could win the BMW Championship and catch fire at East Lake. You can go as far down as No. 40 in the standings to find a player that, if he wins the BMW, could overtake Rahm and get into the top five. They would need a lot of help with golfers ahead of them missing cuts, though. Vegas is dubious. Here are the odds for winning the FedEx Cup right now.
- Jordan Spieth: 2-1
- Dustin Johnson: 3-1
- Justin Thomas: 5-1
- Jon Rahm: 8-1
- Hideki Matsuyama: 10-1
- Rickie Fowler: 12-1
The next closest is Casey at 20-1. Of the top five right now, only Spieth has captured the FedEx Cup before, and he did it in his historic 2015 season. Thomas, who leads the PGA Tour in wins this season with five, said it would mean a ton to him.
"FedEx Cup pays better, I know that," said Thomas at the Dell Technologies Championship last week when discussing the $10 million FedEx prize vs. the Player of the Year award. "I just feel like if you win the FedEx Cup, in reality, you obviously had a great year. You played well when you needed to. I mean, that's a tremendous, tremendous honor, and there's only ... you know, the Player of the Year has been going on for awhile. That's obviously something I would love to win and it would be another tremendous honor.
"The FedEx Cup has not been going on very long and there's not many names on that trophy and it would be really cool to have it part of it."
He'll have his chance in two weeks when the season wraps up at East Lake.
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