Horses for Courses: TOUR Championship

East Lake has been the host since 2004 so familiarity won’t hurt this week. The TOUR has used a couple of different formulas to determine the “winner” here over the years and I’ve sorted all of that for you as well. Patrick Cantlay enters the week as top dog on 10-under in Starting Strokes and we’ll go from there starting Thursday.

All of the gold at the end of the rainbow is up for grabs at East Lake Golf Club outside Atlanta as the FedExCup Playoffs will pay out $60 million in bonuses to close the 50-event 2020-2021 season.

East Lake Golf Club, established in 1904, has served as the permanent host of the TOUR Championship since 2004. Tom Bendelow’s original design was updated in 1913 by Donald Ross so greens pitching back-to-front will again be in play this week. Rees Jones has handled the upkeep over the last 25 years to keep up with the best players on TOUR annually.

The FedExCup Playoffs debuted in 2007 so course history is a very real angle this week.

RELATED: Power Rankings | Expert Picks

In 2008 East Lake changed their greens from Bentgrass to Bermuda so Zach Johnson’s course record of 60 set in 2007 can be taken with a grain of salt. Since the introduction of Bermuda, 63 has been the lowest round posted four times, last done by Henrik Stenson in 2015.

Before 2016 the event concluded with a Par-3 hole. The nines were flipped in 2016 to add another layer of drama as the Par-5 18th, one of the easiest annually on the course, will provide the final act. Xander Schauffele holds the event (gross) record, set last year, on 15-under 265. Since the nines were reversed, the winning score has been double digits under par in every event.

Zoysia fairways and Mini-Verde Ultradwarf Bermuda greens running around 13 feet are surrounded by almost three inches of Bermuda rough. The remnants of Hurricane Ida are dumping rain Tuesday on the area after a very abnormally wet July. The Par-70 (35-35) already stretches out to 7,346 yards and nothing about firm or fast will be on the cards this week. The two Par-5 holes annually play the easiest on the course so scoring on both of them will be required. Wet Bermuda rough won’t allow for much control off of the fairway and around the greens. The perfect Bermuda greens, just over 6,000 square feet on average, will see putts holed for both par and birdie. The formula this week will involve finding the most fairways to attack hole locations and saving pars when missing the fairway and greens. Like any big-time event, the full bag and the six inches between the ears should be in play and that is definitely the case this week.

The 30 players involved will have four rounds (no cut) to try and chase down FedExCup leader Patrick Cantlay and his Starting Strokes of 10-under par. The player posting the lowest net total (Starting Strokes combined with the total of strokes accumulated after 72 holes) after 72 holes will take home the biggest bonus of them all, $15 million plus a five year exemption on TOUR.

Dustin Johnson is back for the 13th time in this event and will look to repeat as FedExCup Playoff champion. The only multiple winner of this event (entered this week) is Rory McIlroy (2019, 2016) and nobody has ever defended the title of Playoff Champion or Event champion.

Top 30 FedExCup bonus money distribution


Recent Event Winners Stats

Dustin JohnsonRory McIlroyTiger Woods
To Par-21-18-11
Disantance – All DrivesT2123
Driving Accuarcy28T3T3
Putting: Birdie or Better %T921
SG: Off-the-Tee716
SG: Approach-the-Green11914
SG: Around-the-Green429
SG: Putting12112
SG: Tee-to-Green317
Bogey AvoidanceT5T11
Par-3 ScoringT17T2T8
Par-4 Scoring321
Par-5 ScoringT51T9

Recent Winners

2020 – Dustin Johnson (-21 net, -11 gross)

Fired a final round 68 to win by three. … Won his sixth FedExCup Playoff event and first FedExCup championship. … First No. 1 seed to win since Tiger Woods in 2009. … Led by five, an event record, after posting 64 in Round 3. … Final group off Round 3 after leading by one after 36 holes. … Opened with 67 to share the first round lead. … Would have finished T3 without Starting Strokes. … 17th win in start No. 274. … His six wins in the FedExCup Playoffs are the most in history. … Picked up his third win in his 10th tournament since the restart. … 64 tied the low round of the week (four others listed below). …

Notables in the field this week:

2017 FedExCup Playoff EVENT champion Xander Schauffele (2nd) posted the lowest 72 hole total since Bermuda was introduced in 2008. … 2017 FedExCup Playoff champion Justin Thomas (T2) picked up his fifth top 10 in his fifth visit. … Jon Rahm (4th) posted the second WORST round of the week with 74 in Round 2. … Debutant Scottie Scheffler (5th) posted 12-under (gross), second best on the week. … Debutant Collin Morikawa (6th) co-led the field with Schauffele with 21 birdies. … 2019 champion Rory McIlroy (T8) also posted 64 (Rd 1) but only made four birdies thru the middle two rounds. … Patrick Reed (T8) picked up his best finish in his seventh attempt as he led the field in Fairways and Pars. … Sungjae Im (11th) opened 68-64 to trail Johnson by one after 36 holes. … Harris English (T12) ranked third in Putts. … Daniel Berger (T14) joined the party with 64 in Round 3. … Abraham Ancer (T18) opened his second visit with 64 before cooling. … Viktor Hovland (T20) led the field in GIR. … Scoring average was 68.917. … Only five bogey-free rounds and Reed had 40 percent of them.

2019 – Rory McIlroy (18-under net, 13-under gross )

2016 winner posted a final round 66 to become just the second player to win the FedExCup Playoffs and Event twice. … Began the final round one shot back of Brooks Koepka. … Only player to post all four rounds in the 60s as he won by four shots. … Posted 13-under gross, three better than Schauffele, for the best total of the week. … Led the field with 20 birdies. … Co-led the field in Bogey Avoidance. … Becomes the only winner to also win THE PLAYERS in the same season. … Third win of the season along with the RBC Canadian Open. … Hits the top 10 for the sixth time in seven visits. … 17th TOUR victory in start No. 268.

Notables in the field this week:

Xander Schauffele (T2) opened with the co-low round of the week, 64, posted 10-under (gross) and co-led the field in Bogey Avoidance. … Brooks Koepka (T3) tried to go wire to wire but his final round 72 saw him fall short. … 2017 FedExCup Playoff Champion Justin Thomas (T3) entered the week as the No. 1 seed. … Tony Finau (7th) posted all four rounds 70 or better. … Hideki Matsuyama (T9) matched McIlroy with two rounds of 66. … Patrick Reed (T9) cashed his first top 10 in six appearances. … Just eight players posted rounds of 60 on Sunday. … Scoring average 70.003. … Only three bogey free rounds for the week.

2018 – Tiger Woods (11-under, 259)

Did not qualify this season (injury). … Woods won the Event but Justin Rose (did not qualify) won the FedExCup Playoff Championship. … Final edition before Starting Strokes. … Only player double digits under par. … Led by three after 54 holes. … Shared the 36 hole lead with Rose. … Opened with 65, co-low round of the week, to share the lead. … Becomes first player to win the FedExCup Playoff Event twice. … 80th win in 346th start. … First appearance since 2013.

Notables in the field this week:

2014 champion Billy Horschel (2nd) led the field in Fairways and GIR. … Dustin Johnson (T3) picked up his best finish in his 10th appearance. … Hideki Matsuyama (T4) ranked T3 in Fairways, 3rd GIR and signed for the only bogey free round of the week. … Rory McIlroy (T7) played in the final group and co-led the field with 19 birdies. … 2017 champion Xander Schauffele (T7) picks up his only finish outside of the top two. … Justin Thomas (T7) was one of four players who posted all four rounds at 70 or better. … Jon Rahm (T11) joined McIlroy with 19 birdies. … 69.617 scoring average.

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained Tee to Green
1Jon Rahm
2Collin Morikawa
3Justin Thomas
4Bryson DeChambeau
5Patrick Cantlay
8Rory McIlroy
9Brooks Koepka
10Corey Conners
11Viktor Hovland
13Sergio Garcia
14Hideki Matsuyama
15Tony Finau
16Daniel Berger
17Xander Schauffele
19Dustin Johnson
22Scottie Scheffler
24Louis Oosthiuzen
25Joaquin Niemann
27Abraham Ancer
32Sam Burns
35Jordan Spieth
36Patrick Reed
40Sungjae Im
Par 4 Scoring
1Patrick Cantlay
3Daniel Berger
3Abraham Ancer
8Jon Rahm
8Sam Burns
8Collin Morikawa
8Louis Oosthuizen
8Justin Thomas
15Scottie Scheffler
19Jordan Spieth
19Kevn Na
19Tony Finau
19Patrick Reed
19Corey Conners
19Viktor Hovland
19Sungjae Im
19Dustin Johnson
19Brooks Koepka
34Bryson DeChambeau
34Joaquin Niemann
34Harris English
34Rory McIlroy
34Sergio Garcia
Bogey Avoidance
1Jon Rahm
2Daniel Berger
3Patrick Cantlay
7Abraham Ancer
8Louis Oosthuizen
13Sungjae Im
14Collin Morikawa
15Justin Thomas
15Cameron Smith
29Joaquin Niemann
31Harris English
32Stewart Cink
33Corey Conners
37Sergio Garcia
46Xander Schauffele
48Tony Finau
FedEx Cup Event Winners entered this WeekWins
Dustin Johnson 6
Rory McIlroy5
Justin Thomas 2
Bryson DeChambeau2
Billy Horschel2
Tony Finau1
Jon Rahm1
Xander Schauffele1
Jordan Spieth1
Patrick Cantlay1

Horses for Courses

Player (Starts)Top 10sMost RecentOther Top 10s/Notes
Dustin Johnson (11)6Win (2020)3rd 2018; T5 2015; 5th 2013; Last 2019
Xander Schauffele (4)4T2 (2020)2017 winner; 2nd 2019; worst score is 70 twice
Justin Thomas (5)5T2 (2020)T3 2019, 2nd 2017; T7 is worst; 14 of 20 red figures
Jon Rahm (4)24 (2020)T7 2017 debut; Posted 65, 66 and 66 last year
Scottie Scheffler (1)15 (2020)T2 GIR; co-led Bogey Avoidance (5)
Collin Morikawa (1)16 (2020)21 birdies; Led the field In Putts per GIR
Patrick Reed (7)2T8 (2020)T9 2019; last two are his best 
Rory McIlroy (7)6T8 (2020)2019, 2016 winner; T2 2014
Brooks Koepka (4)2T3 (2019)6th 2017
Tony Finau (4)27 (2019)T7 2017 debut
Hideki Matsuyama (7)3T9 (2019)T4 2018; 5th 2016; 5 rounds of 66 or better
Billy Horschel (4)32 (2018)2014 winner; T7 2013
Jordan Spieth (5)3T7 (2017)2105 winner; T2 2013 debut; DNQ 2018-2020
Sergio Garcia (8)5T10 (2017)2017 last visit; DNQ 2018-2020
Kevin Na (7)0T16 (2015)Only 7 of 28 rounds in the red
Stewart Cink (5)0T11 (2007)Others T19 or worse; last visit 2009
Daneil Berger (4)0T12 (2015)T15, 15, T15 others 
Patrick Cantlay (3)0T20 (2017)T21, T21 the next two years; 4 of 12 rounds under par
Bryson DeChambeau (3)0T12 (2019)19th before, 22nd after; half of 12 round under par
Louis Oosthuizen (3)0T21 (2019)WD 2015; T23 2012; only 1 round in the red
Cameron Smith (2)020 (2018)T24 2020; in 8 rounds he’s even par
Harris English (2)0T12 (2020)T22 2015; last 5 rounds par or better with 4 red figures
Sungjae Im (2)011 (2020)T19 2019
Abraham Ancer (2)0T18 (2020)T21 2019
Jason Kokrak (1)014 (2019)Posted a pair of 67s; final round 67 bogey free; T2 GIR
Corey Conners (1)0T26 (2019)T3 Fairways, T8 GIR; took the most putts
Viktor Hovland (1)0T20 (2020)All 4 rounds par or better
Joaquin Niemann (1)0T27 (2020)Only 1 round in the 60s
Debut Players   
Sam Burns   
Erik Van Rooyen   

East Lake Gross 2019-2020

2020 Gross2019 Gross
intalics – not entered 2021intalics – not entered 2021
Xander Schauffele 265Rory McIlroy 267
Scottie Scheffler 268Xander Schauffele 270
Dustin Johnson 269Paul Casey 273
Justin Thomas 269Brooks Koepka 274
Tyrrell Hatton 270Adam Scott 275
Jonn Rahm 271Chez Reavie 275
Collin Morikawa 272Tony Finau 276
Rory McIlroy 272Bryson DeChambeau 276
Sebastian Munoz 272Kevin Kisner 277
Mackenzie Hughes 272Jason Kokrak 277
Patrick Reed 272Justin Thomas 277
Sungjae Im 274Hideki Matsuyama 278
Harris English 275Jon Rahm 280
Tony Finau 276Tommy Fleetwood 280
Abbraham Ancer 276Patrick Reed 281
Viktor Hovland 276Gary Woodland 281
Webb Simpson 277Sungjae Im 281
Daniel Berger 277Louis Oosthuizen 281
Hideki Matsuyama 277Rickie Fowler 282
Lanto Griffin 277Matt Kuchar 283
Brendon Todd 279Webb Simpson 283
Kevin Kisner 280Abraham Ancer 283
Cameron Champ 280Marc Leishman 283
Cameron Smith 280Charles Howell III 284
Bryson DeChambeau 281Corey Conners 284
Ryan Palmer 281Brandt Snedeker 284
Kevin Na 282Justin Rose 285
Joaquin Niemann 283Patrick Cantlay 287
Marc Leishman 283Lucas Glover 290
Billy Horschel 284Dustin Johnson 293

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