FedExCup Playoffs FINAL
The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola
East Lake Golf Club
East Lake Golf Club
Yards: 7,307 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Mini-verde Bermudagrass; 6,100 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architects: Tom Bendelow (1908); Donald Ross (1913); George Cobb (1963); Rees Jones (1994; 2008)
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000; $10 million bonus if the winner also wins the FedExCup Playoffs.
FexExCup Points: 2,500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker held off Justin Rose to win the tournament and the FedExCup Championship. That’s $11.4 million if you’re scoring at home!
Dates: September 18-21
Notes: The players seeded No. 1 through No. 5 will win the FedExCup Playoffs if they win the tournament. Any other player in the 30-man field will need “help” if they are to win the $10 million bonus and FedExCup championship. The format is 72 holes and no cut. #Everbodygettingpaid
Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar are the Magic Five. They win this week and they win the whole enchilada!
Nick Watney (No. 34) and Luke Donald (No. 54) were the only two players to play themselves into East Lake with their performances last week at Conway Farms. Watney finished second and Donald finished T4 on his home course.
Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker have the most top 10 finishes in Playoff history with 12 after they both cashed in the top four last week in Chicago.
Hunter Mahan has now played every possible playoff event. #consistency
Steve Stricker, Mickelson and Mahan are the only three players to play The TOUR Championship in all six Playoff seasons. They will all need help to win the BIG prize this week as they all sit outside the top five.
Brandt Snedeker is the first player to defend his FedExCup title. #weird
There have been 39 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 31 of them. The rest of the world, Australia and Sweden, have won the first two playoff events.
There have been 12, first-time winners this season and just five players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and Scott).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FIVE times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32) TWICE, Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32) TWICE, G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49), Woodland (29), Dufner (34), Reed (23), Stenson (37), Zach Johnson (37) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 14 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 20 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have FIVE wins.
In the six seasons of the Playoffs, a rookie has played in The TOUR Championship each season. There has been one each year. That’s weird. Jordan Spieth checks in at No. 10 after his T19, T4 and T16 cashes in this year’s Playoffs. He’s the only one. That’s a very odd streak.
Past Champions in the field include:
Tiger Woods (1999, 2007)
Phil Mickelson (2000, 2009)
Adam Scott (2006)
Jim Furyk (2010)
Bill Haas (2011)
Brandt Snedeker (2012)
Only Adam Scott has not won the FedExCup of the players listed above because the Playoffs started in 2007.
If East Lake was good enough for Bobby Jones, it should be good enough to settle who will be the wealthiest player on TOUR in 2013. Notice I didn’t say the best. The pros will tell you that the majors are what they are playing for when the season starts but, once the season is wrapping up, there’s not ONE of them who wouldn’t like to get their hands on the FedExCup trophy PLUS $10 million smackeroos.
This classic golf course has hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup, the 2001 U.S. Amateur plus The TOUR Championship since 2004. As we saw at Oak Hill at the PGA Championship, another Donald Ross design, keeping the golf ball on the right part of the green will be the biggest asset to the players this week. It won’t hurt to look at players who can also putt on lightning-fast greens but that will be more up to Mother Nature. Donald Ross-designed courses will confuse your eyes and the lines into and around the greens will take nerve to commit and execute the shot.
The interesting story here is the players who have previously had successes here. The list has contained players who crush it to those players who have excellent short games to premium iron players. Since replacing the Bentgrass greens with Mini-Verde Bermudagrass in 2008, the winning scores have been 10-under or worse. The new grass can be cut really short and they can really slick up the greens so premium players again will have an advantage. Just like any great course, all facets of the game will be tested and the winners and runners-up over the last few years suggest both ball-strikers and short-game wizards can both succeed here.
This was the list of winners of Playoff events before last week. We add Zach Johnson to the list so not much has changed. Big players win big tournaments at the biggest time of the year.
2009: Stricker (DBC), Woods (BMW) and Mickelson (TC)
2010: Matt Kuchar (Barclays), Charley Hoffman (DBC), Dustin Johnson (BMW) and Jim Furyk (TC)
2011: Johnson (Barclays), Webb Simpson (DBC), Justin Rose (BMW) and Bill Haas (TC)
2012: Nick Watney (Barclays), Rory McIlroy (DBC, BMW) and Brandt Snedeker (TC)
2013: Adam Scott (Barclays), Henrik Stenson (DBC), Zach Johnson (BMW)
I’ll use the same formula as last week: Those who I endorse will be in ITALICS. I’ll start at No. 1 and work my way to No. 30. Buckle up!
Tiger Woods: When the money is on the table and he’s playing on a course where he’s won before, I can’t look anywhere else. I will if his back acts up before Thursday morning. I’m not sure why this couldn’t have been remedied in the week off before Chicago but if he can walk, he’s going to play. He’s hit the top 10 eight times in 13 tries and has won twice. Since the change of greens, his only two finishes are second in 2009 and T8 last year. Who putts fast greens better than he does? He’ll hope it is pushing 14’ on the Stimpmeter and THAT will make his back feel better.
Henrik Stenson: His Summer of fun has been quite a ride but his putter went ice cold last week in Chicago and those greens won’t be nearly as quick as the ones in Atlanta. He could possibly par the course to death but he will have to watch his speed with the flat stick on the greens. He’ll be hoping for rain and humidity! He’s a heck of a player having a heck of a season and could pull a Bill Haas in his first trip but that’s not what I see. #fade
Adam Scott: His victory in 2006 should give him the confidence and Scott has been a big-game hunter over the last few years. He’s been under par in seven of 16 rounds since his victory but only has one top 10 in four events (T6 in 2011). If he wins the FedExCup and the Masters in the same season, he’ll probably move to Georgia. Probably not but he’ll enjoy the Player of the Year award for 2013. There’s plenty of motivation and the man on his bag knows his way around this joint as well. I can’t dismiss him.
Zach Johnson: Speaking of great runs in the summer time, Johnson has been on quite a ride himself after a slow start. He’s won three times in the state of Georgia, twice at the defunct AT&T Classic at TPC Sugarloaf and once at Augusta so he should feel quite relaxed after his victory Monday. His decision to skip The Barclays to be his brother’s best man in his wedding was justified and a man with a clear conscience can relax and play golf. In six starts, he’s never finished worse than T16 and has T9 in 2010 to go along with T2 from 2007. It’s a tall order to win back-to-back but he’s steady enough to make it happen.
Matt Kuchar: He has played the last three seasons in this event but has only three rounds in the 60s out of 12. Sure, he played at Georgia Tech but that was in the mid-90s so that’s not going to be a determining factor this week for me. I’m more interested in his current form. He had three of his four rounds two-over or worse at Conway Farms. His fourth round was 61. Nothing like a nice, consistent pattern to follow! He’s won at the Memorial. He’s won THE PLAYERS. He’s won WGC-Match Play. He’s won The Barclays. He has the pedigree to win an event of this magnitude.
Steve Stricker: Well, there’s no way I can get off him now. He’s cool with ditching the Elk hunting trip so that’s all I need to know. The only concerning issue is that he hasn’t been better than T15 in the last three seasons after his T6 in 2009. I’m riding the hot hand here.
Graham DeLaet: I’m not a hater but I don’t think this is where I reach for the Canadian just based on his ranking in the FedExCup Playoffs. He had a nice 67 on Monday at Conway Farms to move up to T28 but I’m not reaching for him this week. This learning experience will do nothing except fan his flames in the Presidents Cup and getting him geared up for next season.
Phil Mickelson: This will be his 17th time around East Lake so I’ll argue that his experience can be the difference this week. His victory here over Woods in 2009 saw him open with 73 so he knows he can make up ground and be patient. Mickelson has gamers right where he wants them. You buy because of his course history, not because of he’s fired one of his last seven rounds in the 60s since his opening 63 in Boston. I’m leaving him for someone else so I don’t have to fret about it all weekend.
Justin Rose: Here’s another premium player who found himself as the co-54-hole leader here last year before losing to Snedeker by two shots. A quiet week in Chicago can be dismissed but he did fire par or better in three of the four rounds. He finds too many fairways and greens to leave out and he was second here last year.
Brandt Snedeker: He’s the only player to have a chance to defend his FedExCup trophy since the Playoffs began in 2008. His victory last year was the lowest score, 10-under, since the new greens were installed in 2008. He’s one of the best putters anywhere, let alone on fast, slick greens. I believe he’s just a click off as he couldn’t capitalize on his opening round 63 as he played the weekend one-over at Conway Farms. He was playing much better at this time last year before his $11.4 million pay day. He needs help to win it all this year as he begins at No. 10.