For casual golf fans and bettors, the PGA Tour season essentially ends at the final major of the year, the PGA Championship. That tees off a few weeks before football season, which is of course where most bettors are then lured. But for more dedicated golf bettors, the FedEx Cup playoffs remain a source of interest, and that four-tournament postseason concludes this weekend in Atlanta with The Tour Championship.
The $10 million grand prize for winning the FedEx Cup is mathematically available to any of the 30 players who advanced from last week’s BMW Championship. Any of the top five players can win the FedExCup with a win at the TOUR Championship. The remaining 25 players can still win, but must get help from players at the top of the standings (i.e. low finishes).
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It’s nearly a lock we will have a first-time FedEx Cup champion in the playoffs’ fifth year because two of the previous three winners – Jim Furyk (2010) and Tiger Woods (2009, ’07) didn’t qualify. Vijay Sing (2008 winner) is here but would need a win and a crazy amount of help to win the Cup.
And certainly PGA Tour Player of the Year honors are still up for grabs as well. Guys like Keegan Bradley, Steve Stricker, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Mark Wilson are all going for their third PGA Tour win of the year. Bradley has the lone major win of the group – the PGA Championship back in Atlanta a month ago (but at a different course). Luke Donald has been No. 1 in the world longer than anyone this year.
PGA Tour Odds: Tour Championship Favorites
Donald is the 6/1 favorite at Bodog this week, according to PGA Tour odds. He would be a lock to win Player of the Year with a victory, no doubt. Donald is No. 1 in Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. He is No. 1 on the European Tour money list and No. 2 on the PGA Tour money list, with a chance to become the first player to win money titles on both Tours. And along with three wins this year (two on the Euro Tour), he has finished out of the Top 10 in only five of the 20 tournaments he has played this year. Donald has been very close the past two FedEx Cup events with a third at the Deutsche Bank and a fourth at the BMW. Donald was the runner-up at this tournament last year and has another Top 5 in four starts.
Normally I would be very high on Steve Stricker (20/1) this week. Stricker withdrew from the BMW Championship last week after two rounds because of neck pain that affected his left arm and made it difficult to hold onto the club. That’s the first FedEx Cup event ever in which he hasn’t played all four rounds. He had a cortisone shot on Monday and thinks he will be OK this week. But something is amiss as Stricker has not finished in the Top 10 in the six events since winning the John Deere Classic.
Can Phil Mickelson (20/1) salvage an otherwise disappointing season? Lefty had that win in Houston the week before the Masters, but he really hasn’t come close to winning again. He has been a non-factor in the three playoff events. But Mickelson has won this tournament twice at East Lake.
Webb Simpson (12/1) is the FedEx Cup points leader, but he’s second-favorite to Donald. No one is playing better than Simpson, with two wins in the past four tournaments and a fifth-place showing last week. He has never played this tournament, however. I don’t recommend betting on first-timers.
PGA Tour Odds: Tour Championship Pick
It’s hard to call anyone a true long shot in a field with just 30 players. But I really like Brandt Snedeker among those below +2000 at 22/1. He tied for third in two of his last three starts and has been good all year with seven Top-10s, including a win. He's just outside the Top 5 at sixth in the standings, which means he'll need help to win the FedEx Cup. One concern is he has only played this tournament once, finishing 29th in 2007. But Snedeker also will be motivated to earn a captain’s pick on the U.S. Presidents Cup team.