FedEx Cup, Tour Championship
  • FedEx Cup comes to a climactic finish at the Tour Championship
  • Full preview and suggested bets from the Golf Insider

This week’s US tournament is the grand finale of the FedEx Cup, which takes the form of the TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP.

Now this event has been the subject of some power-wrangling between the PGA Tour and the sponsors (FedEx) as in previous years, the winner of the Tour Championship wasn’t always guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup.

Why?

Because the events which make up the FedEx Cup (four of them in previous years, just the three this time around) see golfers collect ranking points for where they finish each week. Trouble is… sometimes the guy who wins the Tour Championship might be so far behind the points leader in the overall standings that even winning this event wouldn’t see him top the FedEx Cup standings.

FedEx didn’t like this. They wanted the winner of the Tour Championship to be guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup outright as well.

So what we have now is a format where the current points leader starts this week’s tournament with a notional handicap start, to represent their standing in the FedEx Cup points table… and so the winner of the Tour Championship (taking into account this handicap) will also become the FedEx Cup winner.

Confused? Me too!!

Therefore the current points leader (Justin Thomas) starts this week on 10-under-par, the next player (Patrick Cantlay) is on 8-under-par, then Brooks Koepka on 7-under-par and so on… down to the last players in the 30-man field all starting on level par.

Scoring will be as normal (eagles, birdies, pars, bogeys etc) but Thomas tees-off tomorrow a full 10 shots ahead of guys like Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell, Lucas Glover and Jason Kokrak.

Which means FedEx will get their wish, and the guy who “wins” the tournament (using this handicap scoring system) will lift the trophy and pocket a massive pay-cheque.

All of this is, of course, hugely contrived to satisfy the sponsors… and maybe rightly so, as FedEx are pumping serious amounts of cash into the PGA’s coffers. But from a pure betting point of view it makes the tournament something of a farce.

So bookmakers are also pricing up this week’s competition as a non-handicap, standard 72-hole, tournament format. And this is the market where we are betting this week.

Can I just repeat this…

DO NOT BET ON THE HANDICAP MARKET.

And if you look on Oddschecker, the correct market is shown as “Tour Championship – Winner without FedEx Cup Starting Strokes Betting Odds”

Ok, with that cleared up, here’s a preview of the action…

The Tournament

This used to be the grand finale to the PGA Tour season, now it’s the grand finale of the FedEx Cup, which started in 2007 (and so after the action at East Lake, the 2019/20 season kicks-off in two weeks time). The event is effectively a play-off for the PGA’s top 30 players as determined by the points (it used to be dollars) they have accumulated during the year. As such it has the feel of a mini-Major with most of the top players qualifying to play in Georgia this week. As stated above, a new scoring system is being used this year… it’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by players, commentators and bettors alike!

The Course

East Lake Golf Club is a 7,385 yard, par 70. The course was opened in 1904, designed by Tom Bendelow, and was revamped five years later by Donald Ross. It’s located just outside Atlanta, Georgia and is a firm favourite with fans and players alike. It used to play relatively easy a few years back, but a number of recent tweaks to the greens now make it a much tougher track that will reward only the best players… don’t expect a birdie-fest here this week!

72-Hole Record – 257, Tiger Woods (2007)

18-Hole Record – 60, Zach Johnson (2007)

Past Winners – Tiger Woods (2018), Xander Schauffele (2017), Rory McIlroy (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Billy Horschel (2014).

The Field

A field of just 30 golfers attend this week. Rory McIlroy is generally the 8/1 favourite with the bookies in the non-handicap market.

The Weather

The week starts off well with dry and sunny weather on both Thursday and Friday. The forecast is less good for the weekend with a 50% chance of rain on both weekend days. Temperatures will be good all week, well into the 80s, and wind speeds will be very low, barely reaching 5mph on each of the four days.

The Chances

Tony Finau – $21 available

“The angle with the Betting without the handicap market this week is that non-winners, such as Finau, have a great chance of winning because the pressure of winning is well and truly removed from their thinking. Finau has a slim chance of winning the Fedex Cup, but he’s a great chance of shooting the lowest 72-Hole score. His play over the last four events has been impressive and his ball-striking last week at Medinah was second to none. East Lake is another venue that favours the bigger hitters, and with solid form here, and in Georgia in general, this looks the perfect opportunity to get this consistent non-winner on side.”

Rickie Fowler – $23 available

“Fowler is far from a prolific winner for a player of his ability, and again this looks a great market to get the Californian on side with. Fowler played well last week for a share of 11th place, and finished 6th at the Open just a few weeks ago. Last year Fowler finished 7th at East Lake which was his career best. He shot two 65’s that week but was let down by two poor rounds, otherwise he’d have been right in the mix. Starting 8-shots back, Fowler will be free-wheeling this week which should be a huge advantage as the pressure is well and truly off. 22/1 looks very generous considering his form and other factors.”

Lucas Glover – $51 available

“Another player on the “Who’s Who” list of bottlers, but should again thrive in this scenario when he knows he can’t win the big prize. Glover is great when not in contention, so this market is perfect for him, and he played superb last week for 69 holes. East Lake is a great fit for Glover, and he finished 8th and 10th on his last two visits. There isn’t much else to say on the Glover front, apart form if there was ever a market made for a player this is it!”

Corey Conners – $81 available

“I can’t let Conners go unbacked, as time and time again he’s shown his class this year and as you all know I’m a huge fan. He finished 7th last week on debut at Medinah on what was considered a bombers track. His tee-to-green game continues to be of the highest order and to have missed out by not backing him last week was frustrating. He has too much ability to be 66’s (and more) in a 30-man field given that some players will be protecting their scores.”

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