Tour Championship Preview

It has finally come, the season-ending Tour Championship is here after Marc Leishman comfortably beat the field at the BMW Championship, despite a final-day charge from in-form, Englishman Justin Rose.

The field is now set at 30 and whilst there is a scenario where all 30 players can win the FedEx Cup, the winner will most likely from the top-10 in the rankings.  Click here to see the scenarios in which each player can take home the FedEx Cup trophy.

As you can see each of the top-5 will guarantee winning the FedEx Cup trophy should they win at East Lake. Those outside of the top-5 will be relying on Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm to leave their A-games at home this week.

The Course and what it will take to win the Tour Championship

East Lake Golf Club, 7,385 yards, Par 70

This Donald Ross design has been the host course since the inception of the event in 2007. Ross was also responsible for designing Sedgefield Country Club, the long-time host the Wyndham Championship (2008). This is the best correlating course for East Lake and may provide some useful pointers.

Statistically East Lake is a course that favors the accurate hitter over the week, with six of the last ten winners ranking inside the top-10 for Driving Accuracy on the week. Tiger Woods (14th), Phil Mickelson (12th), Billy Horschel (21st) and Rory McIlroy (11th) were the exceptions to this rule. As you can see, aside from Horschel the others have finished above average in the field for fairways hit and that should remain important this week.

More important though is Greens in Regulation, with three of the last four winners ranking inside the top two and last year’s play-off protagonists Kevin Chappell, Rory McIlroy and Ryan Moore ranking 1st, 2nd and 6th in Greens in Regulation for the week. Since 2007 only Bill Haas (11th) has ranked outside the top-10 in Greens in Regulation the week he won whilst; McIlroy, Horschel, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods all led the field in that statistic.

Just like last week, current form is essential. Since 2007, five of the Tour Championship winners have won one of the three previous play-off events, with three players (Woods, Villegas and Horschel) winning the BMW Championship the week before.

Only Haas has made the Tour Championship his first win of the season so generally a won earlier in the season or at least some good form in the play-offs are required in order to fit the profile of an East Lake winner.

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Here are my picks for the 2017 Tour Championship.

Justin Rose 16/1 (Betfred) 2pts e/w:

This is perhaps obvious but I am sticking with last week’s headline selection, Justin Rose despite his odds shortening from 33/1 to 16/1 this week. The main factors for the shortening of odds this week are the reduction of the field (from 80 players to 30) and Rose’s T2 finish last week.

Rose played as well as I expected last week and was unlucky that Leishman was just too good for him and the rest of the field.

There are several reasons to like Rose’s chances this week, including his course and current form as well as his Ball Striking numbers last week. Rose ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation and 4th in Total Driving (6th in Driving Accuracy) last week at the BMW Championship and will look to carry that form over to a course he clearly loves.

In seven starts at this event, Rose has four top-6 finishes all of which have come in his four most recent starts here. The Englishman missed out on the season-finale last year but finished 2nd in both 2015 and 2012 and he can go one better this week due to his current form.

Rose has plentiful form on Donald Ross designs, including a win at the AT&T National (Aronimink) and a 5th at the Wydnham Championship which goes along with his form here at East Lake.

At 16/1 Rose looks the best value at the head of the market and as he currently sits No.8 in the FedEx Cup rankings, a win here could well see him win the FedEx Cup trophy, becoming the first Englishman to do so in the process.

Kevin Chappell 40/1 (UniBet) 1pt e/w:

Chappell finally got his first PGA Tour win earlier this season, winning the Valero Texas Open and that may well be a big advantage this week.

In his three play-off events this year, Chappell has finished 6th, 35th and 12th and with a top-6 finish in one of his last three starts, he can contend here at a course for a second time.

Chappell finished T2 here last year on his course debut, as he and Moore both lost out to McIlroy 12 months ago. Now a PGA Tour winner he may well be better prepared to win this week.

He ranked 1st in Greens in Regulation here last year and ranked 12th in that area last week also, so the test should suit again this week. Chappell will have to straighten out the driver this week after ranking 27th, 76th and 21st in that department in his last three starts but I am confident he can do it on this course.

Given his performance here last year, his two top-12 finishes in the play-offs so far and the win he picked up earlier in the year, Chappell looks a fair price at 40/1 in this reduced field.

Total Points Staked this week: 6

Profit/Loss for 2017: -20