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.
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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 Johnson||Rory McIlroy||Tiger Woods|
|Disantance – All Drives||T2||1||23|
|Putting: Birdie or Better %||T9||2||1|
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|
|Par 4 Scoring|
|FedEx Cup Event Winners entered this Week||Wins|
Horses for Courses
|Player (Starts)||Top 10s||Most Recent||Other Top 10s/Notes|
|Dustin Johnson (11)||6||Win (2020)||3rd 2018; T5 2015; 5th 2013; Last 2019|
|Xander Schauffele (4)||4||T2 (2020)||2017 winner; 2nd 2019; worst score is 70 twice|
|Justin Thomas (5)||5||T2 (2020)||T3 2019, 2nd 2017; T7 is worst; 14 of 20 red figures|
|Jon Rahm (4)||2||4 (2020)||T7 2017 debut; Posted 65, 66 and 66 last year|
|Scottie Scheffler (1)||1||5 (2020)||T2 GIR; co-led Bogey Avoidance (5)|
|Collin Morikawa (1)||1||6 (2020)||21 birdies; Led the field In Putts per GIR|
|Patrick Reed (7)||2||T8 (2020)||T9 2019; last two are his best|
|Rory McIlroy (7)||6||T8 (2020)||2019, 2016 winner; T2 2014|
|Brooks Koepka (4)||2||T3 (2019)||6th 2017|
|Tony Finau (4)||2||7 (2019)||T7 2017 debut|
|Hideki Matsuyama (7)||3||T9 (2019)||T4 2018; 5th 2016; 5 rounds of 66 or better|
|Billy Horschel (4)||3||2 (2018)||2014 winner; T7 2013|
|Jordan Spieth (5)||3||T7 (2017)||2105 winner; T2 2013 debut; DNQ 2018-2020|
|Sergio Garcia (8)||5||T10 (2017)||2017 last visit; DNQ 2018-2020|
|Kevin Na (7)||0||T16 (2015)||Only 7 of 28 rounds in the red|
|Stewart Cink (5)||0||T11 (2007)||Others T19 or worse; last visit 2009|
|Daneil Berger (4)||0||T12 (2015)||T15, 15, T15 others|
|Patrick Cantlay (3)||0||T20 (2017)||T21, T21 the next two years; 4 of 12 rounds under par|
|Bryson DeChambeau (3)||0||T12 (2019)||19th before, 22nd after; half of 12 round under par|
|Louis Oosthuizen (3)||0||T21 (2019)||WD 2015; T23 2012; only 1 round in the red|
|Cameron Smith (2)||0||20 (2018)||T24 2020; in 8 rounds he’s even par|
|Harris English (2)||0||T12 (2020)||T22 2015; last 5 rounds par or better with 4 red figures|
|Sungjae Im (2)||0||11 (2020)||T19 2019|
|Abraham Ancer (2)||0||T18 (2020)||T21 2019|
|Jason Kokrak (1)||0||14 (2019)||Posted a pair of 67s; final round 67 bogey free; T2 GIR|
|Corey Conners (1)||0||T26 (2019)||T3 Fairways, T8 GIR; took the most putts|
|Viktor Hovland (1)||0||T20 (2020)||All 4 rounds par or better|
|Joaquin Niemann (1)||0||T27 (2020)||Only 1 round in the 60s|
|Erik Van Rooyen|
East Lake Gross 2019-2020
|2020 Gross||2019 Gross|
|intalics – not entered 2021||intalics – not entered 2021|
|Xander Schauffele 265||Rory McIlroy 267|
|Scottie Scheffler 268||Xander Schauffele 270|
|Dustin Johnson 269||Paul Casey 273|
|Justin Thomas 269||Brooks Koepka 274|
|Tyrrell Hatton 270||Adam Scott 275|
|Jonn Rahm 271||Chez Reavie 275|
|Collin Morikawa 272||Tony Finau 276|
|Rory McIlroy 272||Bryson DeChambeau 276|
|Sebastian Munoz 272||Kevin Kisner 277|
|Mackenzie Hughes 272||Jason Kokrak 277|
|Patrick Reed 272||Justin Thomas 277|
|Sungjae Im 274||Hideki Matsuyama 278|
|Harris English 275||Jon Rahm 280|
|Tony Finau 276||Tommy Fleetwood 280|
|Abbraham Ancer 276||Patrick Reed 281|
|Viktor Hovland 276||Gary Woodland 281|
|Webb Simpson 277||Sungjae Im 281|
|Daniel Berger 277||Louis Oosthuizen 281|
|Hideki Matsuyama 277||Rickie Fowler 282|
|Lanto Griffin 277||Matt Kuchar 283|
|Brendon Todd 279||Webb Simpson 283|
|Kevin Kisner 280||Abraham Ancer 283|
|Cameron Champ 280||Marc Leishman 283|
|Cameron Smith 280||Charles Howell III 284|
|Bryson DeChambeau 281||Corey Conners 284|
|Ryan Palmer 281||Brandt Snedeker 284|
|Kevin Na 282||Justin Rose 285|
|Joaquin Niemann 283||Patrick Cantlay 287|
|Marc Leishman 283||Lucas Glover 290|
|Billy Horschel 284||Dustin Johnson 293|