This week we have the grand finale of the FedEx Cup, which takes the form of the Tour Championship.
In recent times this event has been the subject of some power-wrangling between the PGA Tour and sponsors FedEx. Because in previous years, the winner of the Tour Championship wasn’t always guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup.
Because the events which make up the FedEx Cup (four of them in previous years, just the three since 2020) see golfers collect ranking points for where they finish each week. Trouble is… sometimes the guy who wins the last event, the Tour Championship, might be so far behind the points leader in the overall standings that even winning this show-stopper 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!
It wouldn’t be right having a TOUR Championship week without sharing this… pic.twitter.com/nvowD25Ihs
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) September 1, 2021
Therefore the current points leader (Patrick Cantlay) starts this week on 10-under-par, the next player in the standings (Tony Finau) is on 8-under-par, then Bryson DeChambeau on 7-under-par and so on… down to the last players in the 30-man field all starting on level par.
Here it is:
-10 Patrick Cantlay
-8 Tony Finau
-7 Bryson DeChambeau
-6 Jon Rahm
-5 Cameron Smith
-4 Justin Thomas, Harris English, Abraham Ancer, Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns
-3 Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im, Viktor Hovland, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson
-2 Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka
-1 Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama, Stewart Cink, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler
E Daniel Berger, Erik van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed
So 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 purely betting point of view it makes the tournament something of a farce.
So bookmakers are also pricing up this week’s competition as if it were a “regular” non-handicap, 72-hole tournament. And over the four rounds, the player who shoots the lowest scores wins – ignoring the handicap.
And this is the market where we are betting this week.
Can I just repeat this…
DO NOT BET ON THE HANDICAP MARKET.
Tour Championship: 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 2021/22 season kicks-off in a week’s 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 – or what there’s been of a golfing year. As such it has the feel of a mini-Major with most of the top players qualifying to play in Georgia this week.
Tour Championship: 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)
Tour Championship: Past Winners
2020: Dustin Johnson
2019: Rory McIlroy
2018: Tiger Woods
2017: Xander Schauffele
2016: Rory McIlroy
Tour Championship: The Field
A field of just 30 golfers attend this week. Jon Rahm is the $7 favourite with TopSport in the winner (excluding handicaps) market.
Tour Championship: The Weather
It will be an almost bone dry week with a daily precipitation forecast of 10% – 10% – 10% – 20% over the course of the tournament. Temperatures though will be high, peaking at around 80 degrees, cloud cover will be light. Wind speeds will be low, around 5-7mph maximum for the four days.
Tour Championship: Outright value bets
These are two each-way outright bets from the Golf Insider. Members receive all of his best bets for all markets – win and each-way, Top 10, Top 20, Round 1 Leader and 3-Ball groups. He covers every tournament on the PGA and European Tours.
Viktor Hovland $26 with TopSport (winner exlcuding handicaps)
Since May, Hovland has been superb. He had back-to-back Top 5’s at the Wells Fargo and Valspar Championship, and then won the BMW International on the European Tour a month later. He finished 12th at the Open, and 14th at the Olympics. More recently he finished 43rd at the Northern Trust, but had it not been for a Sunday 77 that would have likely have been another Top 10 to add to his resume. Last week the young Norwegian finished 17th, and he improved his score by one shot each day. He continues to drive the ball incredibly well (ranks 5th for the season) and his iron play was as solid as ever. Last year he made his East Lake debut, and finished 14th, and he’ll likely improve on that this time around. Starting seven shots back of Cantlay, Hovland can also play with limited expectation levels (of the outright win) which is usually conducive to low scoring. East Lake is a perfect fit for Hovland, as is any course which requires great ball-striking, and at around 28/1 he looks another shrewd play to win the lowest 72-hole score market.
Abraham Ancer $31 with TopSport (winner excluding handicaps)
“I was mega-impressed with Ancer last week at a course which suited the very longest hitters. The Mexican managed to finish 9th, despite losing strokes off the tee due to his lack of length, which makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. His iron play was superb, especially over the first three days, hitting lasers from long distances on a regular basis. East Lake also favours bigger hitters, but not to the extent of last week’s venue, so if Ancer can handle Caves Valley, East Lake should be no problem. His confidence most be sky-high after recently scoring his first PGA Tour victory to cap an excellent season. Ancer will have a genuine chance of winning the Fedex Cup as he only starts 6 shots behind the leaders, but at the same time will be in a position to almost free roll with expectation levels much lower than those above him. He has progressive East Lake form, and the trend is likely to continue this year with Ancer playing the best golf of his career. At around 28/1 he looks a excellent play in this 30-man field.”
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