Tour championship will be thriller

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Well, we’re finally here at the PGA Tour’s grand finale. It’s the tournament that everyone dreamed of being a part of when this wild and wacky coronavirus-interrupted season started so many months ago — the Tour Championship.

The top 30 have made their way to the fairways of East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta to tee it up in the hopes of pocketing the $15 million top prize as well as the FedEx Cup trophy in the Friday-through-Monday event.

That’s right, $15 million for one week’s play. To put it in perspective, if the winner comes in at even-par 70 all four days (not likely … this nugget of information is for information purposes only as last year’s winner, Rory McIlroy, came in at -13), that would add up to a total of 280 strokes. Divide that number into $15 million and you’ll learn the winner will earn more than $53,000 each time he swings the club.

Nice work if you can get it.

This week, we’ve got most of the usual suspects bettors will be keeping an eye on … as well as a few dollars. Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are the favorites as they stand 1-2-3 in the standings. Add in names like McIlroy (if he plays as he’s awaiting the birth of his daughter this week), Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau and you’ve got even more big names in the mix.

Then there’s a batch of newcomers who are making quite the splash and could solidify tremendous seasons, names like Collin Morikawa and Sungjae Im among others.

So who can handle the pressure? All of the players we’ve listed are certainly going to be in the mix, especially when you consider there is no cut this week.

We’re going with Cool Hand Luke this week: Dustin Johnson at 2-1. Those aren’t good odds, but when you’re as hot as he’s been, you take what they give you.

Lately it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s a pushover course (like his 11-shot, 30-under-par win at The Northern Trust at TPC Boston) or last week’s you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it runner-up finish at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois, Johnson has adapted his game to the test at hand.

That’s the good news. The better news is Johnson is hungry for that first FedEx Cup title and he’s in prime position.

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And like last year, don’t forget about the twist in the finale. The tournament’s format changed last year and gives players an advantage the higher they are in the rankings, hence the nod to Johnson.

As the top-ranked player Johnson opens the tournament at -10. The second player, Rahm in this case, will tee off at -8. Next is Thomas at -7 and on and on down the list. The lower you are in the rankings, the higher your opening score. To that end, the 26th-30th ranked players in the field will start off at even par and have plenty of ground to make up to compete for the title.

But don’t feel bad for anyone this week. The guy who finishes dead last this week will still pocket $395,000. Again, not bad work if you can get it.

However, back to Johnson. He hasn’t won a FedEx Cup title and he has openly talked about that being a goal. We’re banking on his consistency in his recent play to give him the boost to tame the field and the golf course and be right there come Monday night. It’s exactly where he would like to start, and, more importantly, where we hope he finishes.

Needless to say, we’re going to keep driving this bandwagon until the wheels fall off. It’s the fifth time he’s started the FedEx Cup finale inside the top five. Will the sixth time be a charm? We’re banking on it.

One other guy to keep a close eye on is Webb Simpson. He passed up a guaranteed payday last week at the BMW (there was no cut) to get some rest and fine-tune his game. Not a lot of players would have taken that route. Whether it pays off is yet to be determined, but he will come into the event with the most rest. 

About the Author

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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