This week the PGA Tour stop is all about the numbers. We’ll start with a few easy ones and work our way up as the Tour hits Atlanta and East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship, the finale in the 2021-2022 wraparound season.
Here are the vital numbers this week:
18: As in $18 million which will be the payday for tournament winner who will also be the FedEx Cup champion.
5: The number of years the FedEx Cup champion will be exempt on the PGA Tour with the win.
48: The number of PGA Tour events in the 2021-2022 wraparound season where players had the chance to get into the playoffs.
30: The total number of players in this week’s field.
10: Or, actually, -10. It’s the number of strokes under par the FedEx Cup leader will start the tournament at when the event tees off.
0: Or even par. That’s where the bottom five of the 30 players who make it to the Tour Championship will start meaning it will take a Herculean effort for any of them to be the champ.
72: The number of holes the 30 players will have to play their best golf to make their biggest paycheck ever.
500,000: The payout to the player who winds up dead last this week. Not a bad payout for four days of golf. And the caddies will have quite the week as well.
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Odds to Win the Tour Championship (DraftKings)
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It’s Tough to Look Too Far Down the List
When the top player starts at 10-under-par and has the rest of the field looking up at him, it’s a tough task to catch him. It’s been done before, but not in the last two Tour Championships.
Last year, Patrick Cantlay held on to beat Jon Rahm by a stroke. Cantlay started at the -10 number while Rahm opened up in the third spot at -7. Two years ago it was Dustin Johnson starting off at -10. He beat Justin Thomas by three strokes. Starting the event, Thomas trailed by three shots as he started off in the third spot, just like Rahm, at -7.
Sensing a pattern here? Well, you aren’t alone. It’s easy to say this now, but this week every stroke counts. The guys starting off way down the list at even-par, -1, -2, -3, -4 and even -5 likely will have too many great golfers to overcome to win.
But we do have one exception for this year and you’ll see it’s a big one. Players starting off four strokes or less behind the top dog are going to be in the spotlight and every missed opportunity or missed shot will be amplified.
Scottie Scheffler Back to the Top
It took all of one week for Scottie Scheffler, the favorite at +260 this week, to get back into the top spot of the FedEx Cup rankings.
When Will Zalatoris, who was No. 1 after his win in the opening playoff event, had to withdraw it opened the gate for Scheffler to get back on top.
With a T-3 finish, he will start with a two-stroke edge over the new No. 2 player, Patrick Cantlay. Scheffler will start at -10 while Cantlay, who defended his BMW title by winning again, will be in the second spot at -8.
That means everyone’s chasing Scheffler again. He spent 23 weeks as the No. 1 player in the FedEx Cup standings before Zalatoris overtook him in the first playoff event. Scheffler missed the cut in the playoff opener when Zalatoris won.
But that won’t dampen the fact Scheffler’s put together a season for the ages. He’s got four victories (in a span of six weeks earlier in the year) and has been No. 1 in the world rankings for much of the year. His T-3 at the BMW Championship shows the missed cut was just a blip on the year-long radar.
This week, it’s all or nothing with the pressure ramped up on all 30 players left standing. It’s simple: Win this week and you pocket the $18 million as the FedEx Cup champ.
With Scheffler having won the Masters to go along with three other victories, we feel he will handle the pressure just fine. There’s still going to be a target on his back but he’s going to be coming in just enough under the radar to land squarely on our radar and to finish off an impressive year with an even more impressive victory.
One more quick fact: The last three FedEx Cup champions posted three or more wins during the regular season just like Scheffler.
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Coming From Behind
He hasn’t been in the conversation much in the recent months–or won for that matter–but we still feel Rory McIlroy (+1100), starting out at four-under-par on Thursday, has what it takes to come from behind and win. After all, he did it the first year of this playoff format.
Why not one more time. He’s won the FedEx Cup title twice and we’re betting there’s enough room on his mantle for a third trophy. And there’s always room in the bank account for an extra $18 million. Granted, he’s starting off at -4 with a lot of golfers between him and the top spot.
But, and here’s the kicker, there’s just something about McIlroy and big stages (except the Masters) that seems to bring out the best fight in him.
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Can Cantlay Repeat? It’s a Definite Possibility
Like he has been all season, the defending FedEx Cup champ Patrick Cantlay, at +330 this week, is right in the middle of the conversation.
Sure, he hasn’t had the season he had in 2021-2022 when he won four times including the final two tournaments of the year to win the FedEx Cup title. Well, he’s back in that form again after defending his title at the BMW.
That gives him two wins for the season (the first one being the team title with Xander Schauffele at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans). He will go in trailing Scheffler by two strokes but he will have him in his sights.
And remember, after he won the BMW last year, he came right back the next week and won the Tour Championship and the millions that went with the title. The best thing we can say about Cantlay is he just finds a way to be on the first page of the leaderboard. Never count him out.
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Props to Consider
There’s a prop bet to win that is intriguing. It gives bettors three players and if any of them win, it’s time to cash in. We like the trio of McIlroy, Zalatoris and Rahm at +300.
Still not the greatest of odds, but with just 30 players in the field we love this threesome to have a chance to pay off.
One final prop bet: We’re betting there will be a hole-in-one at this year’s final event. At +450, it’s good value and Harris English paid it off for us last year when he scored an ace in the first round.