We’ve made it to the end of the season as the grand finale; the Tour Championship is finally upon us. The field this week consists of only 30 players, the top 30 from the FedEx Cup standings, and players will not only be vying for the tournament win but also the year end FedEx Cup which comes with a huge cash-money prize. There is a tournament within a tournament this week, but for fantasy our focus will be on the actually results so we’ll take a closer look at the venue (East Lake, par 70 7,300 – 7,400 yards) and some of the course histories of the players below.
Course Horses: Justin Rose, Paul Casey and Dustin Johnson all have finished inside the top six at East Lake more than once over their past few visits. The Donald Ross design rewards good iron play so it’s not a huge shock to see their names pop up. Jordan Spieth has been boom or bust at this venue in four tries, winning and finishing runner-up, while also finishing outside the top 15 twice. Justin Thomas was sixth here last season while Kevin Chappell nearly won on his debt last year (runner-up-playoff).
Course: East Lake is a notoriously tricky Donald Ross designed venue with long par 3’s over water and some tough par 4’s. The winners here have not crossed 13-under par since before 2011. This has generally been a course which rewards good ball-striking over pure power, which means huge distance off the tee isn’t a necessity to win this week. Good corollary courses include Plainvew and Sedgefield, and it is interesting to note that recent Wyndham Championship winner Henrik Stenson now has wins at both Sedgefield and East Lake.
Justin Thomas ($9,900): All due respect to Jordan Spieth, but there is no chance he should be priced $1,700 more than Justin Thomas this week (or even $300 more for that matter). Thomas comes in ranked first in birdie or better percentage and with two wins over his last for starts, both over quality fields. He was a strong sixth at this event last season, ending things with a 67 to move up on the final day. At under-10k he’s criminally underpriced and deserves to be your main target this week.
Paul Casey ($8,900): A slow week may have some people off the Casey train, but the off-week might actually work in his favour here. With a stress free weekend at the BMW, Casey comes into the finale in 10th spot which means he’ll also be free to swing freely here as only a win and some serious good luck would see him win the 10 million dollar bonus. The Englishman loves this course and hasn’t finished outside the top five in three starts at East Lake. With baby swag in his corner this could easily be his time and I’ll gladly take him over uber-chalk Justin Rose this week.
Others: Marc Leishman, Justin Rose
Matt Kuchar ($7,700): Kuchar had a fantastic finish to his BMW Championship, shooting two rounds of 67 on the weekend to finish T5. While his overall record at East Lake doesn’t stand out (no better than T10 in seven attempts) it’s also not horrendous either when you consider the depth of this field. Kuchar did finish solo second on another Donald Ross design (Plainfield) back in 2011 and East Lake has definitely been kind to non-bombers in the past few years (Ryan Moore, Jordan Spieth). Like Casey, breaking through for a win here wouldn’t shock me as he won’t have the pressure of being a top five seed this week.
Kevin Chappell ($7,600): Chappell had a most impressive debut at this course last season, finishing second and losing in a playoff to Rory McIlroy. He recently tweeted out that he had some unfinished business to take care of here, and while the pressure to duplicate last season’s performance may hamper him I’m willing to take that chance at just $7,600 on DraftKings. With six straight made cuts and two top 12 finishes in the first three playoff events, targeting an in form Chappell on a course he’s fond of makes a ton of sense this week.
Others: Jason Dufner
High-upside GPP Picks
Dustin Johnson ($11,400): I won’t be shocked at all of Dustin Johnson goes way overlooked this week. Since winning the first playoff event in dramatic fashion, DJ has seemingly lost whatever spark he found at the Northern Trust. This may cause people to overlook the fact that Dustin actually has a pretty solid record of contending at East Lake however, finishing no worse than T6 over his last three visits. Johnson also won a playoff event at another Donald Ross design (Barclays-Plainview) in 2011 so there is some correlation to consider there to. He makes for an excellent gpp play as he should garner much lower ownership than Jordan Spieth and would likely love to add this trophy to his resume, given his lack of major success this year.
Russell Henley ($6,600): Henley hasn’t provided any huge results in the playoffs, but he does come into this week having made the weekend in his last nine tour events. The Georgia native has only played East Lake once (2013) but made an impressive debut with a T12 finish. With the pressure of making the final now off, Henley is the type of player I could see raising his game a notch here and making some noise in this deep field. His strong par 4 scoring stats and general success on some tougher par 70 venues in the past make him a good target for me in DraftKings gpps this week.
Other: Kyle Stanley
Players to Consider (in no order):
– Justin Thomas, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Marc Leishman, Matt Kuchar
– Kevin Chappell, Russell Henley, Dustin Johnson, Kyle Stanley, Jason Dufner
Paul Casey 18-1