2019 TOUR Championship Preview

$60 million to chop 30 ways.

It’s a new system but a very familiar track.

Let’s dive in!

FedExCup Playoffs – TOUR Championship

East Lake Golf Club

Atlanta

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,364
Par: 70 (35-35); NO CUT
Greens: Miniverde Ultra-Dwarf Bermudagrass; 6,200 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter: 13′
Rough: Zoysia, Bermudagrass up to three inches.
Bunkers: 74
Water Hazards: 5
Architects: Tom Bendelow (1906); Donald Ross (1914); Rees Jones (1994; 2008)
Purse: $60 million bonus pool for 30 players; $15 million winner; $5 million runner-up; $4 million third; $3 fourth; $2.5 million fifth.
Defending Champion (event): Tiger Woods (-11); Did not qualify.
Defending Champion (FedExCup Playoffs): Justin Rose FedExCup Champion 2018.
Fact of the Week: Only three players (Snedeker, Spieth and Thomas) have made it to East Lake to defend their crown as Playoff champion. Justin Rose joins that elite group this week.
Fact of the Week II: East Lake has hosted every event since 2004.
Missing Man: Full Field of 30 players (no alternates).

Previous Winners

*- did not qualify this year

Year Winner Score Comment
       
2018 Tiger Woods* -11 Led by 3 after 54 and was never in doubt on Sunday.
2017 Xander Schauffele -12 First rookie to ever win a FedExCup Playoff event, period.
2016 Rory McIlroy -12 Trailing by six, he raced home in 64 to force (and win) a playoff.
2015 Jordan Spieth* -9 Won by four to cap his magical season.
2014 Billy Horschel* -11 Almost won the last three events of the FedExCup Playoffs; McIlroy T2 three back.
2013 Henrik Stenson* -13 Tournament record since the change to Bermuda in 2008.

2018-19 Winners

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Kevin Tway**
CIMB Classic Marc Leishman
CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES Brooks Koepka
Sanderson Farms Championship Cameron Champ**
WGC-HSBC Champions Xander Schauffele
Shriners Hospitals for Children Bryson DeChambeau
Mayakoba Golf Classic Matt Kuchar
The RSM Classic Charles Howell III
Hero World Challenge* Jon Rahm
Sentry TOC Xander Schauffele (2)
Sony Open in Hawaii Matt Kuchar (2)
60th Desert Classic Adam Long**
Farmers Insurance Open Justin Rose
Waste Management Rickie Fowler
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Phil Mickelson
Genesis Open J.B. Holmes
WGC-Mexico Championship Dustin Johnson
The Honda Classic Keith Mitchell**
Arnold Palmer Invitational Francesco Molinari
THE PLAYERS Rory McIlroy
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
WGC-Match Play Kevin Kisner
Corales Punta Cana Graeme McDowell
Valero Texas Open Corey Conners**
83rd Masters Tournament Tiger Woods
RBC Heritage C.T. Pan**
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Ryan Palmer & Jon Rahm (2)
Wells Fargo Championship Max Homa**
AT&T Byron Nelson Sung Kang**
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Charles Schwab Challenge Kevin Na
Memorial Patrick Cantlay
RBC Canadian Open Rory McIlroy (2)
United States Open Gary Woodland
Travelers Championship Chez Reavie
Rocket Mortgage Classic Nate Lashley**
3M Open Matt Wolff**
John Deer Classic Dylan Frittelli**
The Open Championship Shane Lowry
WGC-SJCI Brooks Koepka (3)
Wyndham Championship J.T. Poston**
THE NORTHERN TRUST Patrick Reed
BMW Championship Justin Thomas

(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record (post 2007): 267; Stenson (2013).
Course Record (post 2007): 63; Stenson, Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson.
Defending Champions (entered): N/A.
Multiple FedExCup Event winners: Woods, McIlroy and Dustin Johnson (4); DeChambeau, Jason Day, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed (2).
First TOUR win (FEC): Camilo Villegas, BMW (2008).
First win in first appearance: Chad Campbell (2002), Bill Haas (2011), Henrik Stenson (2013) and Xander Schauffele (2017).
Notes: Only Tiger Woods has won the FedExCup Playoffs more than once.
Notes II: First year for the “staggered scoring” to begin the event; first time for one and one champion only.
Notes III: Winners of a major and FEC Playoff event in the same year: Justin Thomas (2017 PGA, DBC)

Dustin Johnson (2016 US Open, BMW)

Jordan Spieth (2015 Masters & US Open, TOUR Championship)

Jason Day (2015 PGA,TNT)

Adam Scott (2013 Masters, TNT)

Rory McIlroy (2012 PGA, DBC, BMW)

Tiger Woods (2007 PGA, BMW, TOUR Championship).

 

The Confidence Factor was the weekly column I wrote for PGATOUR.COM. It has evolved into Horses for Courses. I’ve included the link here for you.

Thoughts

Thoughts AND prayers to the folks who can’t stand change because this week is going to feel like wearing somebody else’s shoes.

Not me. I’m down to clown.

Most gamers don’t want to remember that they change this shit about every two years.

Year No. 1 Vijay Singh won the first two events and could NOT mathematically lose the FEC Playoff. Camilo Villegas was bummed as he won the BMW and the TOUR Championship and had no chance.

So?

So what?

Let’s Dance!

Change is inevitable and it usually happens for a positive reason.

The TOUR has this weekend free from the NFL because of the new schedule and it’s the PERFECT time to debut a system which, to the casual viewer, is easily digested and comprehended.

Sorry, not sorry.

Instead of having a chance (again) to crown a tournament winner PLUS a Playoff winner, there will be just one.

No more Steve Sands “math”. That’s not a knock on Steve either as he was great.

No more “help” to win. It’s all about your own ball this time around.

The starting scores are based on a year-long point system and I have no problem with this logical conclusion.

You want major champions in the field? Play better ALL year, not just one event.

Create a new event for major champions only.

Oh wait, they already did that and they already cancelled it because the major champions didn’t want to show up (Grand Slam of Golf, look it up).

Look at it this way most people aren’t happy UNLESS they are bitching.

Fresh meat this week at East Lake!

East Lake is a ball-striker’s paradise.

This malarkey about “strategy” is overblown. Hit it. Find it. Hit it again. Don’t make a ton of bogeys. Make some birdies. Wake up on Friday and do the same. Saturday might have to change the gears. Sunday will be interesting because FIFTH PLACE IS MORE THAN WINNING THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP. It will be interesting if non-“made” guys are fighting for those spots!

OH, THE DRAMA!

Look here for more:

Stats 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
  Woods Schauffele McIlroy Spieth Horschel
Score -11 -12 -12 -9 -11
MOV 2 1 PO 4 3
           
All Drives 23 4 2 13 14
Accuracy T3 T9 T11 T7 T21
GIR T14 T6 2 T9 1
Ball-Striking 7 3 2 T6 T10
Proximity T15 T21 4 4 T5
Putting: Birdie or Better % 1 T8 T5 11 13
SG: Off-the-Tee 6 1 1 4 7
SG: Approach-the-Green 14 16 6 22 2
SG: Around-the-Green 9 T2 8 5 16
SG: Putting 2 13 13 1 6
SG: Tee-to-Green 7 2 2 8 2
Scrambling 1 7 13 1 T8
Bogey Avoidance 1 1 4 1 1
Par-3 Scoring T8 21 T8 T3 T1
Par-4 Scoring 1 2 3 T7 T5
Par-5 Scoring T9 T1 T8 T1 T10

The prize fund is nice but most of these guys are set for life from past major championships, equipment deals, sponsorship, etc.

Let’s hope they put on a show like they usually do.

The Field from 30 to 1 (beginning score)

30: Jason Kokrak (E)

Played himself in from 32 last week as his white-hot play continued at Medinah with T19. Only one round from his last 12 is above 70 but this is his first rodeo. The good news is this isn’t a track that repels first-timers but he starts the week 10 shots behind Justin Thomas.

29: Lucas Glover (E)

Easily his best season since 2009, ironically that was the last time he played East Lake. His last two trips, 2009 and 2006 resulted in top-10 paydays proving once again it’s a ball-striker’s course.

28: Charles Howell III (E)

His last trip saw him cash T6 in 2011. His usual summer swoon took this season off as he finally cashed a top 10 for the first time since 2012 at the JDC. It was his first since February, so yeah.

27: Louis Oosthuizen (E)

You’ll probably think I’m joking when I tell you his last visit to East Lake resulted in WD. I’m not. Sadly his first was T23 so I’m not sure if he’s locked in this week. His recent play would suggest otherwise as he’s been in fine nick since T7 at Pebble Beach (T36, T20, T20, T6 and T11 last week).

26: Bryson DeChambeau (E)

Well, that escalated quickly. From testing clubs to testing the patience of his fellow pros, his last six rounds on TOUR are in the 70’s. In his first appearance last year he opened 71-75 before closing with a pressure-free 66-67. He’s 10 back so maybe that frees him up. I’d also point out he won the first two FedExCup Playoff events last year so he was hardly limping in like he is this year. No, thanks.

25: Chez Reavie (-1)

Super Chez Reavie fired 66 the first time he played this place in competition but finished T26 back in 2011. No top-25 paydays in six since winning in a cake-walk at Travelers but check out his first round scores lately. Something’s brewing for the leading fairway hitter on TOUR! Lovely outsider.

24: Sungjae Im (-1)

The only rookie to force his way into East Lake, he’ll look to do the impossible as nobody has ever made any FedExCup Playoff event their maiden win on TOUR. Sure, Schauffele won in his rookie year but he won at Greenbrier earlier that summer. Im makes tons of birdies and closed 66-67 last week on another course he’s never seen before.

23: Corey Conners (-1)

Outstanding ball-striker (2nd last week GIR) should be licking his lips again this week. His T7 at Medinah is four straight events in the proper direction and his first top-10 paycheck since winning at TPC San Antonio. He won’t be bothered by East Lake’s length but he’ll need to be tidy on the slick Bermuda greens.

22: Tommy Fleetwood (-1)

Still not on speaking terms after the TNT, which derailed my slim OAD hopes for taking home some cash. Reviewing, after not using him at The Open (2nd) or FESJ-I (T4) I picked up T43 before he churned out T11 last week. T11 on debut last year should get some fish nibblin’.

21: Marc Leishman (-1)

In three tries he’s never cracked the top 20 here so there’s that. Of those three, two were the last two years and he’s four-over during that stretch. He’s a super contrarian play because if he DOES get hot, he can make a million birdies. I’m not sure this is the place for that so I’m passing.

20: Kevin Kisner (-2)

Oh shit fam, he’s now on IG AND his preferred surface of Bermuda. He tried to win this in 2017 playing from the final group but shot 70 and settled for T3. He’s trending in the proper direction over the last month as well. Stick him in there!

19: Rickie Fowler (-2)

Every-other-week doesn’t do it for fantasy players, especially with this pedigree. I’m not into timing the stock market or Fowler. This is why he’s maddening, not his fashion sense or hair styles.

18: Brandt Snedeker (-2)

Quick, how many guys have finished in the top 10 in the first two FedExCup Playoff events? Sneds backed up his T6 at TNT with T5 last week (my OAD pick) as he stretched his streak of rounds in the red to 14. Now, it’s time to remember that his only top 15 in six results here was his 2012 title. I’M ROLLING THE DICE AGAIN BABY.

17: Justin Rose (-2)

The good news is I have saved him for OAD this week. The bad news is he’s my OAD pick this week and he’s already eight shots behind. I soldier on undaunted as he’s hit the top 10 in the last six tries here. Not many will feel more comfortable this week. GOD SAVE MY OAD.

16: Paul Casey (-2)

Took the first event off (why not?) and knocked off the rust with T24 at Medinah. Similarly to Rose, this Englishman posted his first result outside the top five in five tries with T11 last year. Played in the final group in 2017 and led by two after 54 holes before limping in with 73. Of his 20 rounds six are 66 or lower so that should help his mindset.

15: Hideki Matsuyama (-3)

Stopped the MC-T43-MC-T30 rot with a pair of 63s and solo third last week. T4 here last year with TWO rounds over par. I’m not sure his putter can handle four days based on recent results.

14: Dustin Johnson (-3)

He hasn’t had a top 10 since the PGA Championship. In May.

13: Adam Scott (-3)

One of three to pocket top 10 earnings the first two FedExCup Playoff events, the Aussie now has five of the last seven in this category. Returns to East Lake for the first time since 2016 (T8) when he cashed for top 10 No. 5 in 10 tries Also won the event here in 2006 on bentgrass.

12: Tony Finau (-3)

My favorite stat: He’s qualified for East Lake three years running and doesn’t have a win. Consistent.

11: Gary Woodland (-3)

The U.S. Open champ and new dad of twins has had a very busy summer. Shares the course record and has a pair of top-10 finishes but the consistency has been sparse since his two life-changing events.

10: Abraham Ancer (-4)

Nice two week stretch: Best finish on TOUR? Check (2nd at TNT). Qualified for Presidents Cup team? Check. Pretty sure we’re done here.

9: Webb Simpson (-4)

He’s 53-under in his last four events and half of his six starts here are T5 or better.

8: Xander Schauffele (-4)

17-under (T7 and WIN) in his two visits the last two years suggests he has no problem with the loaded field or historic venue. Hitting the podium in half of the majors is his season highlight, so far.

7: Matt Kuchar (-4)

He’ll probably be the first guy to vote to move this event from East Lake as he’s never cashed better than T10 in eight previous tries. In his last 10 rounds on TOUR he posted one in the 60s. Bad combo this week.

6: Jon Rahm (-4)

Give me all of it. T3 at TNT was followed by T5 last week as he joins Sneds and Scott as the only three players to paint the big bucks in the first two Playoff events. Co-led the field with 19 birdies last year in his second go-around so he should be ready to hunt down Thomas over the four days.

5: Rory McIlroy (-5)

Wanna guess who Rahm was tied with in birdies last year? Yep and Fleetwood, so there’s also that. The tee-to-green monster usually thrives here and I don’t think this year will be any different. He shoots 65 on Day 1 and Thomas posts 70, we’re tied with 54 holes to go. That’s hardly a ridiculous possibility so that’s why I’m not wrapped up in the “beginning score”.

4: Patrick Reed (-6)

His best finish in five previous is just T13 and has more rounds 73 or worse than he does in the red. Gulp.

3: Brooks Koepka (-7)

QUICK! SOMEBODY DISRESPECT HIM BEFORE HE LOSES INTEREST!!! He hasn’t gone three events running without a top 10 this season as he shows up on T30 and T24 last week.

2: Patrick Cantlay (-8)

Two down with 72 to play? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH scary! He had a front-row seat last weekend and he’ll get another chance this week to knock Thomas out. Cantlay will throw plenty of body blows and his consistency just might knock Thomas out this time around.

1: Justin Thomas (-10)

I wrote last week that we were all just waiting for him to put all four rounds together and well, he did exactly that in winning last week. He’s never been afraid to back up wins with big performances but I’ll remind gamers this was his first top-10 result since late February. If there’s a switch, he’ll need to flip it with Cantlay OBJECTS IN MIRROR ARE CLOSER THAN THEY APPEAR lingering.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter (@MikeGlasscott) or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s