After a jam packed year of drama, surprise major champions and Scottie Scheffler missing putts from 6 foot, we find ourselves at the Tour Championship at East Lake with the small matter of $18 million dollars on offer to the champion. The 30 best earners of the season so far will tee it up all with the same goal of coming out on top come Sunday evening.
How it works?
Unlike any other tournament on tour, the scoring is staggered at the start, with money leader and world number 1, Scottie Scheffler starting at -10 with 2nd and 3rd place, Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy at -8 and -7 respectively. This works all the way down to the final 5 in the field where players such as Sam Burns and Jordan Spieth who are both vying for a place in the US Ryder Cup team starting at even par on Thursday.
So many players will go in to this week with one final push to get in to the US Ryder Cup team after the first 6 automatic qualifiers were announced this week. The afore mentioned Scheffler will be joined by 2023 maiden Major Champions Brian Harman and Wyndham Clark alongside Ryder Cup rookie, Max Homa, with the consistent performing Xander Schauffele who snook in at the 11th hour last week at Olympic Fields and world number 4, Patrick Cantlay. Some players will need to make a bit more of an impression than others this week to make the team as it looks as if Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler are also locks for the team. You are then left with 2 spots which I believe are between Cameron Young, Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Lucas Glover, Sam Burns and Russell Henley. Despite the resurgence in the form this season of Bradley and Glover and some very good performances from Henley and Burns, I do believe the final 2 spots will be taken up by Young and Thomas, Thomas has had a terrible year by his very high standards but nobody can pass up the qualities he possesses in match play and captain Zach Johnson has already stated that Cameron Young has a very good chance of making the team.
The big contenders
As previously mentioned the top 3 in the rankings going in to this week are Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland and FedEx leader Scottie Scheffler who are clearly the top 3 in the betting for this week. My pick on who will come out on top is Hovland who was simply sensational last week in Chicago, shooting a final round 61 to win the BMW Championship. Starting only 2 shots behind Scheffler, that could easily be flipped inside 3 holes and by the sounds of what is happening on the practice days, Hovland looks dialled in and ready to take this championship home, which will be music to the ears of Luke Donald in the lead up to the Ryder Cup in a months time. It would also not shock me if Rory McIlroy was to be victorious this weekend, he has a fantastic record round East Lake, winning 3 tour championships and also being the reigning champion. Rory is in a good spot to make a run at this, 3 shots behind Scheffler but will need a good start as the world number 2 always struggles to get going if the start is not to his liking.
Who will go lowest this week?
Without the par score, there is also a market on who will go lowest this weekend. If we take the championship out of it, I think the lowest scores this weekend will be shot by Rickie Fowler, I think Fowler will have one final push to confirm his place in the US Ryder Cup team and earn himself a good amount of dollars on top of that. Fowler starts the weekend on -3 and to overtake Hovland, McIlroy and Scheffler may be a little bit of a tall order but I do believe he will go low enough for him to be in the question come Sunday. Another player who I think will have another positive week is Tommy Fleetwood, he has been a nearly man in the last few months on tour and I feel like he is in good enough form to go well again this week and confirm his automatic spot on Team Europe for the Ryder Cup.