FedEx Cup Picks: Tour Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/10/2014
Alas, it appears I will make it through the entire PGA Tour season without picking a single winner --after four last year -- unless I can nail one of the 29 guys in this week's season-ending Tour Championship. That's not to say it hasn't been a successful season. Done very well on Top-10 finishes and head-to-head results. In all honesty, it's not usually a smart bet to wager on one guy to win a tournament. Too hard to do. But I'll keep on going into next season.
At last week's BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, American Billy Horschel took home the win by not shooting a round in the 70s, taking a three-shot lead into Sunday and finishing at 14-under 266 at Cherry Hills outside Denver, beating Bubba Watson by two shots. That moved Horschel to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup points, which is huge because any player in the Top 5 heading to East Lake in Atlanta will win the FedEx Cup by winning the tournament. Anyone outside the Top 5 would need a win and help. Horschel nearly won two weeks ago as well at TPC Boston so he might be tough to beat this week.
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Probably the happiest guy last week other then Horschel was Morgan Hoffman, who finished third. He barely made it into the playoffs at No. 124 and has become the first player outside the cutline at each of the first playoff events to then advance to the Tour Championship. The only other guy who played his way into the Top 30 last week was Ryan Palmer, who finished T4. Defending FedEx Cup champion Henrik Stenson tied for 23rd and will not advance to East Lake as he finished 52nd in points. The two guys inside the Top 30 who dropped outside the number were Stuart Appleby and, unfortunately, Keegan Bradley. He was my pick to win the BMW at 40/1 but withdrew Saturday due to a possible rules infraction during the first round. A rules official had absolved him of any wrongdoing, but Bradley apparently felt he had done something wrong by Saturday morning. Kudos to him.
Phil Mickelson also withdrew at the BMW, but he had no good reason to do so. Lefty basically just quit because he wasn't playing well and wasn't going to advance to Atlanta. That's weak. If Tiger Woods did that, he would be pilloried. For the first time since 1992, not one of Tiger, Mickelson or Ernie Els is playing the Tour Championship.
I had Mickelson for a Top-10 in Denver. I did Jason Day as well, and he withdrew too. So it was rather frustrating for me last week. I did hit on a Top 10 for Rory McIlroy at -275 and Sergio Garcia at +155. I had McIlroy over Adam Scott head-to-head, but they tied at T8. Sergio paid off at -125 for a head-to-head win over Stenson and Bubba did at -105 over Zach Johnson.
So the Top 5 in points this week are: Chris Kirk, Horschel, Watson, McIlroy and Hunter Mahan. Technically every player in the field could win the FedEx Cup by winning the tournament, but it's usually someone very close to the lead in points. Jimmy Walker is at No. 6, and he would win the $10 million FedEx Cup prize with a win, no other Top 5 guy winning and Kirk finishing T2 or worse. No. 7 Jim Furyk needs a win and Kirk with a three-way T2 or worse and Horschel at T2 or worse. You get the drill. No. 29 Gary Woodland needs a win and for pigs to fly. There actually will be 29 players competing because No. 30 in points is suspended Dustin Johnson. Only 13 guys overall who played in last year's Tour Championship are back this week.
FedEx Cup Golf Odds: Tour Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the 4/1 favorite at Bovada, and what a year it would cap if he were to add this tournament and the FedEx Cup to his two major titles and guaranteed PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. It would be one of the most dominant years in golf history. McIlroy amazingly has only played this event once, a T10 in 2012. Adam Scott is 10/1 -- he won this tournament the year before the FedEx Cup started (2006). Scott is having a fantastic year, so it might surprise you to learn he has only one victory: at Colonial.
Rickie Fowler (11/1), Jim Furyk and Garcia (both 12/1) round out the favorites. I can't believe Fowler hasn't won this year, and he has six Top-10 finishes in his past seven starts. He was T23 in 2012 at East Lake, his only other visit. I also can't believe Furyk hasn't won as he has 10 Top 10s and three second-place finishes. He won this tournament in 2010 and took the FedEx Cup. Garcia is vastly overdue at East Lake with two runner-up finishes. He was T9 last year.
FedEx Cup Picks: Tour Championship Predictions
Think I will rule out Kirk (33/1) immediately as just once did the points leader then win this tournament, and that was Tiger in 2007. Kirk is a first-timer in this event. Bill Haas is the only player in the playoff era to make the Tour Championship his first win of the season, so does that mean I can't pick Fowler or Furyk? The last win Furyk had, amazingly, was here in 2010.
On the Top-10 finishes (you can also bet for a Top 4 on every player), I like McIlroy at -400, Furyk at -135 and Garcia at -135. There are only a few more options on that prop with such a small field. Head-to-head, take Justin Rose (-115) over Jordan Spieth (-115), Furyk (-115) over Fowler (-115), Day (-105) over Martin Kaymer (-125), Matt Kuchar (-115) over Haas (-115) and Mahan (-115) over Zach Johnson (-115).
I believe the best value to win is Rose (16/1), who is No. 26 in points and thus almost surely won't win the FedEx Cup even with a victory. He was runner-up here two years ago and sixth last year. The FedEx Cup winner will be McIlroy.
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