Put it this way: Nothing better explains the absurdity and tortured logic of professional golf than how the PGA Tour chooses to end every season.
Let’s see where the value lies as we dive headfirst into our picks and predictions for the TOUR Championship at East Lake.
The FedExCup Playoffs culminate this weekend with the TOUR Championship, a four-day golf tournament which uses a scoring system unique to this event to decide who wins the $15 million FedExCup bonus and the 29 other cash bonuses below that one.
Tour Championship Picks, Best Bets, Long Shots
Let’s see if the Tour itself can explain what the hell is going on here:
The top 30 in the FedExCup standings following the BMW Championship will advance to the TOUR Championship, where the final leaderboard will represent the final FedExCup standings for the top 30 players. Stroke play will be used to determine the champion of the PGA TOUR’s season-long points race. To recognize players for their Regular Season performance, there will be a staggered start to the TOUR Championship utilizing Starting Strokes.
The FedExCup leaders will begin the event with a head start on the competition. The player who finishes the four rounds at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club with the lowest score in relation to par will win the FedExCup.
The FedExCup bonus money is the only money given for a player’s finish at East Lake. There is no longer a purse for the TOUR Championship.
Got it? No? Let me try to explain it this way. Patrick Cantlay won the BMW Championship last week and catapulted himself to the top of the FedExCup season standings. As a result, Cantlay begins the tournament this week with a 10-shot head start, i.e., when he tees off, instead of being even par, he’ll be ten under par. Tony Finau is second in the standings; when he tees off, instead of being even par, he’ll be eight under par. And so on.
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What this means, practically, is that the players at the bottom of the ladder, ranked from #11 on down, are probably cannon fodder this week. Example: Billy Horschel is ranked #29 coming into the weekend. He will receive no head start and therefore he will be even par as he tees off on Thursday. As such, to beat Cantlay, he must finish 11 shots better than Cantlay. That’s probably not going to happen. Fear not for Horschel, though. If he finishes 29th, he gets $405,000.00, which is about what he’d get for finishing third in a normal Tour event.
What this also means is that there is little point in trying to get cute with these selections. This is a glorified net tournament, with the weirdest part being that the best players are getting the strokes taken off their scores.
Harris English is second in the world in strokes gained over his last 20 measured rounds: 2.42.
Rahm is at … 4.08.
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) August 24, 2021
Value Pick: Harris English Top 10 (+110)
English appeared in this space two weeks ago when we picked him to beat Bryson DeChambeau at the Northern Trust. That pick pushed when Brooksie, er., Bryson nipped English by a stroke in the final round. Still, English is the same rising star he was two weeks ago. His tie for 26th place at the BMW Championship last week was more due to the fact that Caves Valley got exposed as a not-ready-for-prime-time venue than it was due to the play of English, who finished -13 and still got boat-raced.
English starts the weekend with a four-shot head start; less than some, more than most. Finishing in the top 10 with that sort of cushion should be relatively simple.
Sam Burns has four—FOUR!—64s in his last eight rounds. Couple more of those and he's going to be tough to leave off the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
— Joel Beall (@JoelMBeall) August 26, 2021
Long Shot Pick: Sam Burns Top 5 Finish (+550)
Fantasy football is back in our lives, and there’s nothing worse than watching a guy you left on your bench go off for three touchdowns as your starter fumbles twice and gives you nothing. This real-life example best mirrors my feelings last week as I watched Sam Burns cruise to a top-10 finish at the BMW Championship; I took him top-10 at the Northern Trust two weeks ago, and he made two double-bogeys on the back nine on Sunday to crash into a tie for 21st.
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I’m ready to get hurt again. Burns is 10th in the FedExCup points standings and so, like English, Burns will tee off on Thursday already four under par. He’s still in terrific form, and so at these odds, a top-5 finish is just likely enough to take him.
Jon Rahm is officially taking advice from Ted Lasso.
Be a goldfish on the course. pic.twitter.com/hrvDywT8AQ
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) August 27, 2021
Pick to Win the $15 Million FedEX Cup Bonus: Jon Rahm (+330)
Just like the scorer’s table right before an NBA game where LeBron James will play, there is chalk in the air.
Rahm is the best player in the world. The Official World Golf Ranking says so, as does the eye test. On the golf course Rahm seems to be able to do what he wants, when he wants. He has a win, two top-3 finishes, a tie for ninth last week and a withdrawal from a tournament he was running away with (the Memorial) in his last five starts.
Rahm is fourth in the FedExCup standings, giving him a six-stroke head start on the first tee on Thursday. Over 72 holes, Rahm can absolutely beat Cantlay by five, Finau by three and DeChambeau by two. If he does, he probably claims the $15 million and puts a stamp on a breakthrough season.
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