For the 15th consecutive year the Tour Championship will be held at East Lake Golf Club in A-Town, Georgia. Another Donald Ross original design it was restored in 1994 by Rees Jones to its former glory after years of neglect. A lengthy par 70, East Lake extends to over 7,300 yards but has seen winners such as Jim Furyk and Henrik Stenson in the past. Length will help a golfer reach a higher percentage approach shot but being accurate off the tee will trump distance.
The course has a nice mix of water, bunkers, and tree lined holes, which limit the effect that wind can have on a shot. Par 4 scoring will be more important with only two par 5’s, four par 3’s, and twelve par 4’s with six of those par 4’s being 450 yards or longer. The greens are bermuda grass and the rough can be penalizing which further emphasizes the need for accuracy this week.
The finishing score here is typically in the lower teens under par so having a good ratio of birdies to bogeys throughout the season is what you will want to look for here. There aren’t all that many birdie opportunities so shooting even par on certain holes each round will be gaining strokes on the field.
All in all there isn’t too much to read into with East Lake Golf Club. The course isn’t super tricky with a lot of quirks that favor a certain type of player which makes this a good finishing spot for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Those that are able to play within themselves and hit their spots consistently and then knock down putts will be in the hunt. This means that recent form will be important, and since the Tour Championship has been here since 2004 course history will also show you who is comfortable on this track.
- SG: tee to green
- SG: off the tee
- SG: approaching the green
- Par 4 scoring
- Birdie or better
- Bogey avoidance
- Recent form
- Course history
- Playoff history
The final round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs will consist of the top 30 players in terms of FedEx Cup points. In such a small field realistically everyone has a shot at winning this, besides maybe young Ned Beatty – Patton Kizzire. A strategy to consider for GPP lineups is to leave money on the table, more so than you regularly would. With only 30 golfers the chances of you having the same lineup as someone else in a GPP pool is drastically increased so leaving $500, $1,000, or even $1,500 unused will help you build a unique lineup.
Big Dogs ($8,400 and up on DK)
- Justin Rose ($11,400) – Rose is coming off of back to back 2nd place finishes and his last four starts here have been top 10 finishes so this one really speaks for itself.
- Dustin Johnson ($11,300) – DJ slips from the top pricing spot for the first time in a while and rumors are swirling about his engagement with Paulina Gretzky coming to an end after an affair. I’m guessing his ownership will drop due to speculation on his current mindset so that might be the perfect time to buy shares of the best golfer in the world.
- Justin Thomas ($10,300) – JT hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 during this year’s playoffs and his only two starts on this course have been a 6th place finish two years ago and a 2nd place finish last year.
- Tony Finau ($8,600) – good ole Uncle Tony hasn’t placed outside of the top 10 in the three playoff events this year and his only time at East Lake was last year and he was, you guessed it, inside the top 10.
- Bryson DeChambeau ($8,400) – Bry guy already has two wins in the playoffs so far and a 19th place finish last week. Ownership will be high for everyone because of the small field but I could see Byrson and Tony having especially high ownership which would be their only downside.
- Luke warm on: Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler
- Rory McIlroy ($10,700) – being the most recent to win the Tour Championship (that isn’t priced at $7,000) I see Rory as one of the go-to picks in this price range but his poor job of shooting into the greens and getting there in regulation gives me pause. I would watch for speculation on his ownership level in the next few days to get a better feel.
- Tiger Woods ($9,500) – Tiger’s driver, proximity from the rough, and GIR this year have been his Achilles’ heel and he’s always a crowd favorite so having too big of a share in him at East Lake might be a risky gamble.
- Not high on: Hideki Matsuyama
Value ($6,800 – $8,200 on DK)
- Francesco Molinari ($8,200) – these next two guys I see as being very chalky this week due to their prestige and discounted price in a small field. I project Molinari as being roughly 5th most likely to win this event and he is the 11th highest price tag so there is some serious win equity at a good value.
- Tommy Fleetwood ($7,900) – Tommy has been very highly owned each week in the playoffs so that is always the drawback to picking him but he hasn’t finished outside of the top 25 so it’s been for a good reason.
- Webb Simpson ($7,500) – Webb is one of the best par 4 scorers on tour and is coming off a 6th place finish last week with a 4th place finish here back in 2013.
- Luke warm on: Patrick Cantlay
- Jason Day ($8,000) – Day hasn’t looked great so far in the playoffs not having finished better than 20th in three events, but he does have a solid track record here for the price tag so he might be one to mix in.
- Jon Rahm ($7,700) – Rahm missed the first cut but has gotten better each week of the playoffs. He’s struggled as of late but is still capable of putting up a top 5 and is built for this course when he is on his A game.
- Billy Horschel ($7,300) – Billy boy seems to be on everyone’s watch list with two top 3’s in the playoffs and a win at East Lake in 2014. He’s hot at the right time and seems to do well at this track but he’s been very mediocre all year so be careful.
- Xander Schauffele ($7,000) – the returning champ is coming off a 3rd place finish at the BMW last week so it looks like the X-man is ready to reclaim his throne. I have a theory that he has one top 10 every seven events and he just used it on the last but that’s just a theory.
- Not high on: Patrick Reed and Paul Casey
Sleepers ($6,700 and down on DK)
- Gary Woodland ($6,700) – Gary’s game is tee to green so if he is hitting putts this week he’ll be in the conversation. He has finished 48th, 24th, and 12th in the first three weeks of the playoffs so he is trending the right direction and he has quite a bit of experience here.
- Phil Mickelson ($6,600) – Phil’s got two top 15’s in the playoffs and is 2nd in birdie or better and 7th in par 4 scoring this year. Give him four rounds without a cut and he could post some low numbers.
- Luke warm on: Keegan Bradley, Aaron Wise, and Kyle Stanley
- Bubba Watson ($6,500) – Bubba’s a slippery one, three wins this year and terrible form coming into the playoffs but he hasn’t finished outside of 34th in the last three weeks and at $6,500 has pretty solid upside.
- Cameron Smith ($6,400) – 3rd and 3rd the first two weeks of the playoffs and then an almost last place finish last week. I don’t love his fit here but based off of recent form it’s hard to argue with his high ceiling for the price.
- Kevin Na ($6,000) – the cheapest on the board, Na has two top 15 finishes in this year’s playoffs and some experience at East Lake so why not plug him into some GPP’s?
- Not high on: Marc Leishman and Patton Kizzire
Click Here to see Mark’s odds and projections for the Tour Championship.