For the conclusion of The FedEx Cup Playoffs and The 2018 PGA Season, we head to East Lake, for The Tour Championship. The top 30 players in FedEx Cup points we will competing in this no cut style event. The champ of event will be crowned, but also the winner of The FedEx Cup and it’s ten million dollar prize, which is rewarded to the golfer who has the most FedEx Cup points after the end of The Tour Championship. East Lake is the venue for this grand finale and it has been the home of The Tour Championship since 2004. This Donald Ross design is located in Atlanta, Georgia and it is a par 70, that plays at 7,346 yards. Xander Schauffele edged out Justin Thomas by one stroke here last season. (-12)
East Lake is a tough challenge and -12 is tied for the best winning score we have seen in the last ten years. First and foremost, this is a par 70, making your play on the par fours very important. Schauffele ranked 2nd in par four scoring a year ago and all of the last five winners have ranked T11 or better in scoring on these holes, with four of them ranking at least T6th. I am putting a heavier weight on par four scoring, but the par fives are also pivotal, with two of the last five champs leading the field in scoring on the par fives. In the past, elite ball strikers have had the most success at East Lake. Distance off the tee, per usual, will be an advantage, but it pays more to be accurate to avoid the rough and help yourself find the right spots to stick these greens.
Speaking of approach play, all of the last five golfers to win this tournament have ranked inside the top six in GIR at this course. The last skill I want to factor in this week is bogey avoidance. As I mentioned above, East Lake has some bite to it and you have to avoid big numbers to contend. Schauffele was T1 in bogeys avoided and he was the third Tour Championship winner in the last four years to lead the field in this statistic. So, good luck to everyone and quickly, I just want to thank everyone who read my PGA picks this season! I truly appreciate it and look forward to bringing you more golf picks in the future. @Hunta512.
Tony Finau: (8,600)
Quite honestly, I don’t see how you make a lineup without Finau this week. The man has been an absolute stud all season long, only missing three cuts in 27 starts and posting 11 top tens, which is tied with Dustin Johnson for the most of the year. He has been excellent so far in these playoffs, with finishes of 2nd, T4, and T8, bringing him to 3rd in FedEx point standings. In this playoff run, he is averaging 9.1 strokes gained total per start. To get into further detail, he ranks 4th in SGT2G, 13th in SG APP, 5th in GIR, 2nd in DD, 7th in BS, 1st in SG on par fours, 13th in SG on par fives, 5th in BOB%, 5th in bogeys avoided, and 9th in SGP over these last three starts. (via Fantasy National)
Last year was his first time playing in a Tour Championship, but he had no issues in his debut at East Lake, finishing with a T7. It’s hard to expect a better finish than this, but Finau’s overall game and pedigree is much stronger now. He should be in the hunt for a win come Sunday afternoon and Finau will be one of my core plays for this final PGA event. (18/1 to win, via Bovada, which are tied for the 7th best odds)
Billy Horschel: (7,300)
Coming off a WD at The Dell Technologies Championship (illness), Horschel looked absolutely fine at The BMW Championship. He finished T3rd and this was his second T3 in his last three starts, with the first coming at The Northern Trust. In these two impressive playoff finishes, Horschel has gained an elite 10.5 strokes total at each event. In his past 12 rounds, he ranks 1st in SGT2G, SG APP, and bogeys avoided. He also ranks 9th in SG on par fours and 5th in SG on par fives. (via Fantasy National)
It’s been four years since Horschel made it this far in the playoffs, but in that appearance at East Lake, he took down the event and also brought home The FedEx Cup. This was his second start at this venue and in his debut, the year prior, he posted a T7. Horschel clearly loves playing this track and his form is peaking at the perfect time for his return to Atlanta. Currently, he has the 16th best odds to win, but is the 18th highest priced player on DraftKings. At a low price of only $7,300, Horschel is one of the strongest values available.
Xander Schauffele: (7,000)
At The BMW Championship, Schauffele once again stepped on a big stage. Going into this leg of the playoffs, he ranked 41st in FedeEx Cup points, making a high finish a must if he wanted to defend his 2017 Tour Championship title at East Lake. The 27 year old did exactly that, finishing T3 at Aronimink, which brought him all the way up to 18th in the standings.
He produced negative total strokes in the first two playoff stops, but shined with 10.5 strokes gained at The BMW Championship. In his win here, a year ago, Schauffele ranked T6 in GIR, 2nd in par four scoring, 1st in par five scoring, and 1st in bogeys avoided. Now, with everything on the line this week, I think we see this young stud finish with at least a top ten.
Rory McIlroy: (10,700)
Rory is tied for the best odds to win this week (9/1, via Bovada), but is the third highest priced golfer. I like Justin Rose, quite a bit, but the $700 discount McIlroy presents is just too valuable for roster construction. At The BMW, he finished in solo 5th place, which he can mostly thank to his dominate par four play (led the field by two strokes on the par fours, at -14) and ball striking. (led the field with 9.5 SGT2G) He didn’t play here last year, due to injuries, but in 2016, he won The Tour Championship and The FedEx Cup. Prior to that, he finished T10, T2, T16, in that order, at East Lake. Hopefully McIlroy can build momentum off his performance at The BMW and get us a top five this weekend.
Tiger Woods: (9,500)
After an even par 70 in his second round at The BMW Championship, Woods fired off a 66 and a 65 on the weekend, helping him to a T6. He ranked T1 in par five scoring and gained 8.5 strokes total. It’s been five years since he teed it up at East Lake, but he has seven top tens here in 10 starts, including four runner ups, and a win 2007. He is dying to get back in the winner’s circle and I am expecting The GOAT to be in contention come Sunday.
Francesco Molinari: (8,200)
After missing the cut at The Northern Trust, Molinari elected to sit out The Dell Technologies Championship. The extra week of rest helped him get back on track, with him posting a T8 in his second start at a BMW Championship. Before that MC at The Northern Trust, Molinari was a machine, capturing three wins and six top tens in eight starts. Overall, he is averaging 6,8 strokes gained total in his last ten events and ranks 1st in SGT2G, SG APP, and bogeys avoided over his last 24 rounds. (via Fantasy National) Even though he has never played here, I think his accurate and mistake free game is a fine fit for East Lake. Plus, having no course history should slightly depress Molinari’s ownership in GPPs.
Gary Woodland: (6,700)
Woodland finally found the stroke again with his putter, gaining 2.7 strokes on the greens at Aronimink. This was a T24 at The BMW Championship and now, he travels to East Lake, where he has two top tens in five starts, with an average finish of 14.6. This course suits him well, with his tremendous ball striking (8th in the last 24 rounds, via Fantasy National), and if Woodland can continue to roll it better on the greens, he presents top ten upside at a low cost.