Tour Championship predictions, odds 2019: Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka picks from PGA insider

Justin Thomas enters the 2019 Tour Championship with a two-stroke lead over Patrick Cantlay thanks to the FedEx Cup Playoffs' brand new format. World No. 1 Brooks Koepka will start three shots back as the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings battle for a $15 million first prize. "I can certainly say, 1,000 percent I've never slept on a Wednesday lead, but I'm definitely excited for that and I'm just going to try to win the golf tournament as if everybody starts at zero," Thomas told reporters. The final tournament of the 2019 FedEx Cup Playoffs starts Thursday at Atlanta's oldest golf course, East Lake. Sportsbooks peg Thomas as the 9-4 favorite in the latest 2019 Tour Championship odds, followed by Koepka (9-2), Cantlay (9-2), Rory McIlroy (8-1), Patrick Reed (16-1) and Jon Rahm (16-1). Before you make your 2019 Tour Championship picks, see the PGA predictions from SportsLine's resident golf insider, Sal Johnson.

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson is red-hot this year. He featured Woods in his best bets for the Masters, and Woods walked away with his fifth green jacket. Then, Johnson promoted Koepka in his PGA Championship best bets, and Koepka made a mockery of that major, building a seven-shot lead entering the weekend and cruising to victory.

Johnson has covered countless tournaments at Atlanta's oldest golf course, East Lake, which was Bobby Jones' home course. He knows exactly what it takes to win there. For last year's Tour Championship, Johnson said this about Tiger Woods and East Lake: "This is not only a perfect course for him to win on, it will also leave a lasting memory and three months for players to think about how good Woods could be in 2019." The result: Woods won his first PGA Tour event in five years, finishing two strokes clear of Billy Horschel on a final-round Sunday in which he was never threatened.

Now, Johnson -- the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer and the founder of the world's biggest golf stats database -- has issued his highly confident 2019 Tour Championship picks.

We can tell you Johnson wants no part of Thomas, the overall Vegas favorite, even through the 26-year-old Louisville native comes in on fire after shooting 25-under to win last week's BMW Championship. "At the end of the day, a lead of two to four shots is not that big of a lead," Johnson said, referring to Thomas' starting advantage over Cantlay, Koepka and Reed. "Thomas' driving was poor at the BMW Championship, and winning back-to-back is a tall order." 

Johnson also has a strong read on Koepka, whose putter has deserted him since winning the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis. On a positive note, Koepka hits it straight, one key ingredient for success at East Lake. "Each hole is tree-lined, so you have to drive it fairly straight," Johnson told SportsLine. "And hitting greens will be very important when you consider that in the past 18 Tour Championships, seven winners led in that category, while only two were not in the top 10."

Johnson also has locked in the fate of McIlroy, who starts five strokes behind Thomas. McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green and ranks third in birdie average. Moreover, McIlroy captured this event in 2016, winning the FedEx Cup crown that year, and finished as the Tour Championship runner-up in 2014. This season, McIlroy has two tournament wins (RBC Canadian Open, Players Championship) and a whopping 12 top-10 finishes. 

Strikingly, Johnson is high on a monster long shot who's getting triple-digit odds despite his strong recent play in the Tour ChampionshipAnyone who backs this underdog could hit it big. Johnson is sharing who it is, along with his full leaderboard and analysis, over at SportsLine.

Who wins the 2019 Tour Championship? And which colossal long shot stuns the golfing world? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's strong picks and analysis, all from the consummate PGA Tour insider who called Tiger Woods winning last season's Tour Championship, Woods' first win in five years.

Justin Thomas 9-4
Brooks Koepka 9-2
Patrick Cantlay 9-2
Rory McIlroy 8-1
Patrick Reed 16-1
Jon Rahm 16-1
Webb Simpson 25-1
Dustin Johnson 25-1
Xander Schauffele 25-1
Hideki Matsuyama 40-1
Adam Scott 40-1
Tony Finau 40-1
Matt Kuchar 40-1
Justin Rose 40-1
Rickie Fowler 60-1
Gary Woodland 80-1
Paul Casey 80-1
Abraham Ancer 80-1
Tommy Fleetwood 100-1

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