TOUR Championship 2022 Preview

via @Playoffinale

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TOUR Championship

FedExCup Playoffs Finale

East Lake Golf Club

Atlanta, Georgia

East Lake Golf Club

Yards (per official scorecard):7,346
Par:70 (35-35)
Greens:6,091 square feet; Mini Verde Ultra Dwarf Bermudagrass.
Stimpmeter:12.5 feet plus.
Rough:Tifway Bermuda at 2.5 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards74/5 (in play on 4 holes).
Architects:Tom Bendelow (1904); Donald Ross (1913); Rees Jones (2016 last of three).
Course Record (last):63; Henrik Stenson (not entered; Round 1, 2015).
Course Tournament Scoring Record (gross):Xander Schauffele (-15, 2020).
Fact of the Week:Starting Strokes began with the 2019 edition. Please read Stats Suggest for Gross scores during those times.  
Purse:$75 million; $18 million winner.

Notes:

  • Field is now 29 as Will Zalatoris WD (back) and will not be replaced.
  • 72 hole stroke play, no cut.
  • Leaderboard with Starting Strokes will determine the FedExCup champion. There is no longer a tournament winner and a FedExCup winner but if you’re just learning that, you probably shouldn’t be reading this haha.

Recent Winners

Italics – not entered this week

YearWinnerCourse
2021Patrick Cantlay    (-21)Started first, ended first, as he posted 11-under on top of his 10-under starting strokes. Held off co-low gross Jon Rahm (-14) by a shot.
2020Dustin Johnson    (-21)Started first, ended first, as he posted 11-under on top of his 10-under starting strokes. Held off low gross Xander Schauffele (-15) by three.
2019Rory McIlroy (-18)Started five back and won by four as his 13-under was the best by three shots (Schauffele). Justin Thomas started on 10-under and finished T3.
2018Tiger Woods (-11)Woods won the battle but Justin Rose won the war. This was the last year of having a tournament winner and a Playoff champion determined. Combo platter 2019.
2017Xander Schauffele (-12)Rookie dropped his first major clue that he likes it here but didn’t have enough FEC points to win the title. Justin Thomas took home that honor.

East Lake is always interesting because usually under-par rounds here carry weight. After 10 inches of rain in the first 23 days of August we’ll see if a shootout breaks out!

The greens should be perfect but there isn’t ONE TOUR pro who enjoys wet, nesty Bermuda rough. At 7,300 and change, damp/soft fairways will favor only the biggest of hitters.

The only good news is that East Lake does drain quite well so it will probably fall right in the middle.

Now, back to the golf.

Par works this week because controlling the ball out of the Bermuda rough isn’t easy. Neither is getting it close from the greenside bunkers. Grainy Bermuda greens are back on the menu and that doesn’t help marginal putters.

I’ve illustrated the HFC and recent studs here above so go read it.

As for the format, the guys can piss and moan all they want about it but they’re over it. It’s not new anymore and they have four days to rectify their position. Some will be happy to be here (nine first timers) while others can’t wait to tear this place limb from limb to collect $18 million.

A note on the rookies: Over time we’ve seen BIG NAMES flourish in their first visits. Not many head scratchers sneak into the top 10.

Last year there was exactly zero.

In 2020, Scheffler (5th) and Morikawa (6th), Hatton (7th) and Munoz (T8) were the debutants.

2019 matched the number for last year.

You get my point.

Finding someone to do the business here on their first visit, regardless of age, is more of a setback than the Starting Strokes. They know their life has already been changed as they are in the majors for next season. They can read the bonus table just like we can.

Let’s take look at all 29 and see what we got!

Pre she ate cha!

OAD – IT’S FINALLY OVER.

Spotter’s Game 2022

2022 EventsGolferPlaceTotal $$
    
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsMarc LeishmanT10188,000
Sony Open in HawaiiKeith MitchellT7227,812
The American ExpressSeamus PowerT14119,700
Farmers Insurance OpenJon RahmT3445,200
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmMaverick McNealyT3343,548
WM Phoenix OpenHideki MatsuyamaT8248,050
The Genesis InvitationalPatrick CantlayT3364,000
The Honda ClassicSungjae ImMC0
Arnold Palmer InvitationalRory McIlroyT13228,000
THE PLAYERS ChampionshipDaniel BergerT13327,222
Valspar ChampionshipKeegan BradleyMC0
WGC – Dell Match PlayPaul CaseyT6041,000
Corales PuntacanaEmiliano GrilloMC0
Valero Texas OpenCorey ConnersT3541,925
Masters TournamentJordan SpiethMC0
RBC HeritageMatt FitzpatrickMC0
Zurich Classic of New OrleansIan Poulter13th69,803
Mexico Open at VidantaDavis Riley5th299,300
Wells Fargo ChampionshipTony FinauT4133,750
AT&T Byron NelsonWill ZalatorisMC0
PGA ChampionshipScottie SchefflerMC0
Charles Schwab ChallengeMax HomaT2377,700
Memorial TournamentCollin MorikawaMC0
RBC Canadian OpenJhonattan VegasT5320,387
US OpenXander SchauffeleT14241,302
Travelers ChampionshipDenny McCarthyMC0
John Deere ClassicNick HardyT3039,082
Barbasol ChampionshipChesson HadleyT687,548
Scottish OpenTommy FleetwoodT4362,000
The Open ChampionshipShane LowryT21120,286
3M OpenCameron TringaleMC0
Rocket Mortgage ClassicCameron YoungT2635,600
Wyndham ChampionshipWebb SimpsonMC0
FedEx St Jude ChampionshipJustin ThomasT13260,892
BMW ChampionshipSam BurnsT19188,250
    
Total Events: 35Top 10: 7MC: 11      $4,330,357
    

This Week – TOUR Championship

It’s over.

Keep reading.

All of them.

In order.

Scottie Scheffler (-10; +200)

Making his third appearance (T22, 5th) but his first as the favorite and FEC leader.  The summer has been bookended with T2 at The Country Club and T3 last week. The other four events have been uninspiring for his level. I’d expect him hovering on Sunday.

Patrick Cantlay (-8; +350)

Already cracked the code to become the first player to defend at FedExCup Playoff event so winning another one this week won’t deter him. Did just enough here last year to win and never looks or appears satisfied. I’m not betting against him.

Xander Schauffele (-6; +650)

Of the top three there’s no question who the favorite should be in my opinion. His record here is better than tremendous and he brings it annually. Limping home with 71 in the final group last week should have him plenty pissed off that he’s not in the final group. Missing that birdie putt on Sunday cost him that and about 300k or so. Get all you can.

Sam Burns (-5; +2200)

Good news, bad news here. The 22-1 is the best part but Burns hasn’t blown up enough scorecards recently to suck me in. His last top 10 was at RBC Canadian in early June. Thought the Bermuda in Memphis would fire him up.

Cameron Smith (-4; +2200)

I’m out. Hip problem. Rumours about his future swirling. Tough driving conditions. Bad combo from here.

Rory McIlroy (-4; +900)

Another who shreds here and won’t be worried about the format as he’s already won from this position. He’ll enjoy familiar greens and great vibes this week. Should be on auto pilot.

Tony Finau (-4; +1800)

Can’t have a round this week like he did last week to open at BMW. The sharper his irons this week, the less stress on his putter.

Sepp Straka (-4; +10000)

If you are a big fan of the starting strokes this is surely worth a punt! If you’re a big fan of trends I’m guessing you’re leaving this alone. First timer.

Sungjae Im (-4; +2800)

Only four rounds here of 12 are in the 60s and that’s not going to be enough this time around. Does have a 64 here to his name though. T15 or better in last four events.

Jon Rahm (-3; +1200)

He’s seven back and the fifth overall choice from the book. That’s all you need to know. They’re prepared to be Rahmmed! He’s 23-under combined the last two years. He is rounding into form. Go read Pick ‘Em above. Vamos!

Scott Stallings (-3; +10000)

Four top 10s in his last six including taking Cantlay to the wire last week. How quickly we forget he MC in Memphis and hasn’t won since 2014. Nice story. Your money, do whatchalike.

Justin Thomas (-3; +2800)

Glad I don’t have to hope this is the week he turns it on. T7 or better every time here and 11-under in his last two visits. Like Burns, his last top 10 was in Canada.

Cameron Young (-3; +4000)

I think he hit the wall last week in Delaware on the weekend. Another new track, another mental hurdle, he’ll be even better next year. Pass.

Matt Fitzpatrick (-3; +4000)

Should be able to show off his putter this week if his driver cooperates. Like Young, Straka and Stallings his first time here won’t be an advantage.

Max Homa (-2; +12500)

What does it tell you that Sepp Straka has better odds than Homa? Not many better off the tee but he’s also a first-timer. He’s also won on difficult tracks such as Quail Hollow and Riviera plus TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.  Interesting.

Hideki Matsuyama (-2; +10000)

Best total here regardless of format is 6-under. Pass.

Jordan Spieth (-2; +5000)

Seven under over his last three seasons. Big greens and losing strokes on them doesn’t sound like the angle this week.

Joaquin Niemann (-2; +6600)

Eight rounds, one in the 60s, 8-over. Third time’s a charm? Sits 153 in Fairways so probably not.

Viktor Hovland (-2; +6600)

I’d make a better case here as he was T20 on debut and 11-under last year.

Collin Morikawa (-1; +6600)

Is he 10 shots better than Scheffler on this track? Can he hit the top 5? No. Yes. Never worse than 70 the last two seasons. Invest.

Billy Horschel (-1; +15000)

Interesting. He’s 28th in Fairways. He’s 30th in GIR. He’s 14th in SG: Putting. He’s 19th SG: Total. He’s won here. He was 10-under last year. He was second in 2018. He won in 2014. Huh. Interesting to say the least.

Tom Hoge (-1; +40000) – Pass. Great season. Have fun.

Corey Conners (-1; +10000) – Not his preferred surface to putt.

Brian Harman (-1; +25000) – First visit since 2017 where he didn’t break par.

KH Lee (E; +4000) – Mountain too tall.

JT Poston (E; +40000) – Should freshen up a bit on Bermuda. My longest shot.

Sahith Theegala (E; +30000) – My new favorite. Enjoy the ride, kid.

Adam Scott (E; +20000) – Cash that top five ticket and thank us later!

Aaron Wise (E; +25000) – Benefit of playing here before and cashing 15th on 3-under.

 Last Time – BMW Championship

THE CHOICE: Sam Burns – T18

It was him or Tyrrell Hatton (T23) entering the week.

It COULD HAVE BEEN Scott Stallings (2nd), KH Lee (T5), Taylor Pendrith (T8), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (T12), Trey Mullinax (T12) or YOU GET THE POINT.

I made two GREAT OAD picks this year:

Keith Mitchell – T7 at Sony

Davis Riley – T5 at Valspar

That was it.

I suck.

Good news for you is you get a 100% full refund for the season!

Let’s see how my other “thoughts” from last week did!

Warm Blankets: The guys who should. Safe selections that will help maintain leads. Opinions on why or why not for this event or save for later.

Rory McIlroy (+1100): Hasn’t won one of these since Crooked Stick in 2014 but that’s hardly a deterrent. I’d expect a major challenge from him this week after MC in Memphis.  The longer, the better and checks a ton of boxes with the exception of value. Ho hum another top 10 (T8). The books scare you off and rightfully so. His top 10 rate is fantastic though.

Scottie Scheffler (+1400): Check my thoughts below from last week. Weird. T3 as the temper calmed and the irons showed up as he led the field in GIR.

Jon Rahm (+1400): Nicely tuned last week (T5) and did so hitting T1 GIR on some of the smallest targets on TOUR. Next step this week. Played his final 54 holes in 11-under. Now about that 73 to open…LOVE HIM this week. T8.

Patrick Cantlay (+1600): Event defending champ and had no problems learning new greens this time last year. His 31 birdies and 1 eagle was quite something as well. Loves a bit of Bentgrass. Didn’t make more than two bogeys a round and just six for the week. That formula will be on point as he looks to defend AGAIN this week. WINNER.

Justin Thomas (+1600): Plenty of “sames” in here this week so split hairs as you see fit. If your game goes to East Lake, you know that’s one of his favorite places as he’s never finished outside of T7 in six tries. T52 as he only made NINE birdies on the week. Hope you did save him for East Lake!

Tony Finau (+1600): Freight train. Up to you to ride the streak or end it. I can’t endorse the latter. Opened with 77 but that wasn’t what caught my eye. If ANYONE could have mailed it in last week and not given ANY honks, it would have been him. He showed up on Friday and played his last 54 holes in 10-under. THAT is baller. Bravo. T28.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (+1600): Used to be worried about big ballparks but not so much anymore. Hitting it too well to be concerned about anything except top 5 or top 10. Maybe I should go back to worrying. T48 and broke par just once of the four rounds. Ice cold irons and an ice cold putter don’t help.

Will Zalatoris (+1600):  Run the table, I dare ya! Of course I was a day late and a dollar short as I expected his big break out to be in his college back yard at Greensboro. Questions have all been answered. Now do it again! I’ll let him celebrate. WD mid tournament with a back injury that is keeping him out of East Lake and the Presidents Cup.

Spicy: This might be a week for sending out an “unknown” and saving a start. You just might get lucky. Or MC. Players better than +2500.

Xander Schauffele (+2000): If you held out this long, you’re releasing the hounds NEXT WEEK. Good news is he just might win this week! T3 after four rounds with his buddy Cantlay. Fantastic summer continues.

Collin Morikawa (+2200): Massive favorite this week from the Golf Cognoscenti so that usually doesn’t bode well when win tickets are concerned. Better plop one down just in case though! T5 last week with nine bogeys and a double! Sigh. The ol’ 6-10 combo on consecutive holes on the back nine on Sunday never helps. Closing with 79 knocked him from T6 after 65 on Saturday (co-low round of the day) to T44. Two bad holes hardly make a tournament.

Cameron Young (+2500): Perfect ballpark for his power. Takes over for Zalatoris as the leading money winner this season minus a win. T23 after playing the weekend level par. Is he out of gas? I can’t/won’t blame him if he is.

Shane Lowry (+4000): Needs to jump into the top 30 and will get a chance to do so relying on hitting fairways and holing putts. Bogey on the penultimate hole knocked him out of the top 10 (T12) and out of East Lake. Play more next year!

Hideki Matsuyama (+5000): He’s never this deep so the books know something we don’t? Caution. Yeah, T35 as he played the weekend three-over.

Adam Scott (+5500): Ride the wave. Ridden. T5.

Cam Davis (+6500): Sets up perfect for him this week and he’s been at top 16 machine recently. Sat T6 entering the weekend and T35 when the dust settled.

Taylor Pendrith (+8000): Same as last week and he didn’t make the cut. Won’t have to worry about that if you’re on it this time around! Nice. T8. Imagine him healthy for an entire season.

JT Poston (+8000): Too much heat to ignore. Not enough, T35.

3 AM at the Blackjack Table: Caution is thrown to the wind. Maybe not the best for this format but what the hell, right? Might throw these in if you’re in need of a miracle.

Denny McCarthy (+12500) – T28

KH Lee (+15000) – T5

Lucas Herbert (+17500) – T15

Funny Money Long Shots:


Check PGATOUR Pick ‘Em for deeper plays as well

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