Tour Championship 2018: Golfers with the most to gain and most to lose at season's final tournament
Tiger Woods will play the season finale for the first time in five years, and he has a lot at stake
Can you imagine telling somebody a year ago at this time that Tiger Woods (who was barely able to swing) would make the 2018 Tour Championship but Jordan Spieth (who had just won The Open and lost a playoff event in a playoff to Dustin Johnson) would not? That's where we are 12 months later as the final 30 golfers in the FedEx Cup rankings make their way to East Lake next week.
With that as our jumping off point, I wanted to take a look at a few superlatives for this season's finale. Most of the top 30 is your usual suspects of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, but there are a few surprises (and disappointments). Let's take a look at the final 30 (and a few outside of it) as the 2017-18 PGA Tour season comes to a close ahead of the Ryder Cup in Paris.
Biggest surprise -- Bryson DeChambeau: It would be easy to go with Tiger Woods here (), but the fact that DeChambeau is ranked No. 1 going into the last tournament is a bit of a shocker to me. I thought (and think) that he's a really good player, but I never really expected him to be No. 1 in the FedEx Cup rankings at any point in his career.
Biggest disappointment -- Jordan Spieth: Remarkably, this is the first time Spieth has missed the Tour Championship (where he has an incredible record) as a professional. When anyone of his caliber -- generationally great, three-time major winner -- misses the season-ending event, it will always be a disappointment. Even more so because he could have made it with a decent final round at the BMW Championship.
Biggest leap -- Hideki Matsuyama: He started the playoffs ranked No. 76, but slid into the No. 27 slot after three straight top 15s to start the playoffs. It would take a miracle for him to win the FedEx Cup, but just making it to East Lake is a big win for him after a down year.
Biggest fall -- Chesson Hadley: After starting the playoffs ranked No. 24, Hadley fell all the way to No. 44 after finishing T56, cut and T61 in the three playoff events. It was still a great season for him, but it was not a very good playoffs.
"Wait, he made it?" award -- Patton Kizzire: After winning two events before January ended, he missed 10 of his next 21 cuts and notched just one top 10. Still, those two wins in November and January ultimately carried the day for Kizzire (barely, as he finished 30th in the rankings).
Most to gain -- Cameron Smith: The Australian gets a "wait, he's in the top 10?!" nod from me as he's just one of two golfers in the top 17 who have not won on the PGA Tour this season. After starting the playoffs at No. 53 in the rankings, he's put himself in a position where he could pretty easily walk away with $10 million or more with one hot week at East Lake.
Most to lose -- Dustin Johnson: He's been the best player on the PGA Tour all season. It hasn't even really been that close. After three playoff events -- including an uneventful T24 at the BMW Championship -- he's slid from No. 1 to No. 4 in the standings and runs the risk of relinquishing yet another hold on the biggest windfall of the season.
Underrated season -- Tony Finau: No, he hasn't won, but Finau is ranked No. 7 in the Sagarin rankings, which is a better indicator of just how many golfers you've beaten on the year. Plus, winning is overrated.
Overrated season -- Bubba Watson: He's ranked No. 8 going into the finale, but he's 36th in the Sagarin rankings, just behind Beau Hossler and just ahead of Adam Hadwin. Look, there's an art to winning -- and doing it three times in a year is no joke -- but he hasn't been consistently good throughout the year. Watson has just six top 10s (with three of them being wins!) on the season.
Biggest PGA Tour nightmare -- Tony Finau winning $10 million by going winless: I'm not rooting for Finau to grab the eight-figure first prize by not winning a single event in 2017-18.
The FedEx Cup favorite -- Bryson DeChambeau: He's currently the 2-1 favorite, according to golfodds.com with Justin Rose (9/4), Dustin Johnson (11/2) and Tony Finau (6-1) sliding in after that. The golfer with the most value right now considering any of the top five golfers in the rankings win it all with a Tour Championship win? That's Justin Thomas at 8-1 as he tries to go back to back.
Who will win -- Justin Rose: This entire playoffs has felt very Rose-ian. I picked Koepka at the start, but with Rose at No. 2 going to East Lake and playing how he has (second in his last two events), I'm flipping to the Englishman. He's also finished in the top 10 in five of the last six Tour Championships.
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