PGA Tour Picks: Tour Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
First off in these weekly golf previews, I recap how I fared on my predictions in the previous tournament to show how smart or stupid my picks were. We will skip that this time because it's been three weeks since I last wrote, which was the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston, the second leg of the FedExCup playoffs. Then the Tour had a week off before resuming last week at the BMW Championship outside Chicago. I wasn't able to preview that due to unforeseen circumstances, although I'm fairly confident I wouldn't have chosen Aussie Marc Leishman to take home the title by going wire-to-wire (although I do like Leishman).
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I have recommended seven winners this year if you include the occasional props where you get two or three guys vs. the field. And the 2016-17 golf wraparound season concludes this week with the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The $10 million FedExCup prize is on the line, on top of what the tournament pays. Potential PGA Tour Player of the Year honors as well. That's not to say this will be the last golf story written in 2017. There's a decent chance we will look at next week's Presidents Cup. If not, the new season starts up Oct. 2 in California.
No player has repeated as FedExCup champion, and that won't happen this weekend, either, as Rory McIlroy became the eighth defending FedExCup champion to not make it back to the Tour Championship the following year. He entered the BMW at 51st in the standings and only finished T58. That was far from good enough to propel him into the Top 30 who advanced to East Lake Golf Club. McIlroy won this tournament last year despite trailing by three shots with three to play on Sunday. He ended up beating Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell in a playoff. Moore just missed an 8-foot birdie putt on his 72nd hole that would have won him the tournament and given Dustin Johnson the FedExCup.
You probably know by now that mathematically, any player in the 30-man Tour Championship field (no cut) can win the FedExCup, but realistically it's probably reserved for the Top 10 or so. The Top 5 players in the standings are Jordan Spieth, the 2015 FedExCup winner, Justin Thomas, Johnson, Leishman and Jon Rahm. If any of them win the tournament, they win the FedExCup. Spieth, Thomas and Johnson are battling for Player of the Year. The Tour Championship winner also has won the FedExCup every year since 2010.
Just for giggles, this is what would have to happen for No. 30 Jason Dufner to win the FedExCup: win the tournament, have Spieth finish 29th or worse, Thomas in a three-way tie for sixth or worse, Johnson T4 or worse, Leishman T3 or worse, Rahm a three-way tie for second or worse, and No. 6 Rickie Fowler T2 or worse. By comparison, Fowler would need to win and have Spieth finish T2 or worse. As you can see, finishing solo or tied in a position can be a big deal.
East Lake is a par 70 measuring 7,385 yards. It has been the annual host of the Tour Championship since 2004. Zach Johnson holds the 18-hole record of 60 in 2007 and Tiger Woods the 72-hole record of 257, also in 2007. Remember Tiger?
Golf Odds: Tour Championship Favorites
At Bovada , Spieth is the +500 favorite. He has been great in these playoffs with two second-place finishes and then a seventh last week. Spieth has been somewhat hit or miss at East Lake with a four-stroke win in 2015 and runner-up in 2013. In two other trips, he hasn't been better than 17th. Good in a regular-sized field but not here.
Dustin Johnson is +750. He won the first event of the playoffs, the Northern Trust but hasn't contended the past two weeks. He hasn't been worse than sixth in his past three trips to Atlanta.
Fowler (+750), Thomas (+900), and Rahm and Jason Day (both +1100) round out the favorites. Fowler was a runner-up last week with a best result here of eighth in 2014. Thomas leads the Tour with five wins this season and was sixth here last year in his debut. Rahm is making his debut. Day is probably playing his best golf of 2017 and has three Top 10s in Atlanta in six trips.
Golf Odds: Tour Championship Picks
We're a bit limited this week, so just a few prop picks: For a Top 10, I like Spieth (-300), Justin Rose (-125), Paul Casey (+110) and Sergio Garcia (+135). Believe the winner will be one of those four. Go Spieth (+325) as top American and Rose (+200) as top European.
Rose is my winner at +1400. He hasn't been worse than sixth in four straight Tour Championships with two runner-ups. He's way overdue to win. To win the FedExCup, Rose would have to take the tournament, have Spieth finish third or worse, Thomas T2 or worse and DJ second or worse. Could happen.
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