The 2016 PGA Tour Season concludes with the top 30-players in The FedEx Cup standings all vying for the 10-million dollar first prize at The Tour Championship.
And then there were 30. The 2016 PGA Tour Season ends this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia where the 30-finalists in The FedExCup Playoffs will duel for the 10-Million Dollar first prize and the title of 2016 FedEx Cup Champion. The Playoffs began five weeks ago with the top 125-players in The FedEx Cup Standings and determined by points per how a player finishes in each playoff event, the field has since been trimmed down to the top-30 players who will now compete for all the marbles this week.
This marks the 30th playing of The Tour Championship but only since 2007 and the advent of The FedEx Cup Playoff system haven't been what it is today. Tiger Woods has won The FedEx Cup twice, in 2007 and in 2009. 2012 Champion, Brandt Snedeker is on the field again this year and so is last year's winner, Jordan Spieth. The top five players in the standings have the best chance of hoisting the trophy but all 30-players in the field have a shot by way of various scenarios, spelled out here.
East Lake is a Donald Ross design with some tweaks done in 1994 by Rees Jones. It is a very long, par 70 at 7300-yards. Despite the golf course's length, Driving Accuracy has been an attribute for the week of more winners here than has Driving Distance. Greens in Regulation is a key factor as it always is. Scrambling and Putting will be very important and so will scoring on Par 4 holes as you have twelve of them here on a Par 70 set up.
Other factors to look at in one's handicap are current form as past winners of The FedEx Cup have typically come in very hot and often off of another win in The FedEx Cup Playoffs - and also course form, not only at East Lake but how these players have performed at other Donald Ross designs on Tour. The 2015 Barclays at Plainfield, The 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, The 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, and The Wyndham Championship which is played every year at Sedgefield Country Club. These factors are also taking into account when the odds board is updated.
Dustin Johnson (9-2)
DJ comes in off of a win at The BMW Championship, the 3rd leg of The FedEx Cup Playoff quartet, and is firmly planted in the driver's seat to win Player of The Year honors with a Major and a Tour-leading fourteen Top-10 finishes this season. At number one in the FedEx Rankings, he will be tough to beat for the championship.
Rory McIlroy (11-2) McIlroy won three weeks ago at The Deutsche Bank so the form is there.. but again, it has been his putting that determines how Rory either goes - or does not go. He finished 2nd here at East Lake in 2014.
Jordan Spieth (15-2) The defending champ and 2015 Player of The Year hasn't been quite the same this year - but how many can maintain what he did last year? - and let's not forget, his "this year" hasn't been too shabby, even by Spieth standards. At 7th in the standings, If he can keep his ball in the fairway and hit greens this week, his short game just may win him a second straight FedEx Cup.
Jason Day (9-1)
For the first time in how many weeks does Jason Day drop from The Favorites to The Contenders? The number one player in the world has been the tourney favorite for what seems like at least six months - but he had to withdraw from The BMW last week with his nagging back. He has three Top-10's here in five tries. I hate to doubt him but I think he is just off enough to keep off of the short list.
Adam Scott (9-1)
In the three FedEx Cup Playoff events leading up to this, Scott has finished 4th, 4th, and 4th. Not bad. He ranks 3rd in The FedEx Cup Standings. Hole a few key putts this week that have eluded him often - and he's 10-million dollars richer.
Paul Casey (15-1)
The Englishman is certainly one of the hottest players coming in and is a darling for many to take home the hardware this week. He has finished 2nd the last two weeks in a row and was 5th here last year - and 4th in 2010 in his only other appearance. He also finished 3rd at The Wyndham (another Donald Ross design) in 2015.
The Long Shots
Brandt Snedeker (45-1)
Snedeker took home top honors in 2012, winning The FedEx Cup with a win at East Lake and he has a history of success at Donald Ross courses - with a 3rd place this year at The Wyndham and a 9th at The U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 2014. Snedeker was 13th last week at The BMW.
Emiliano Grillo (45-1)
The favorite for PGA Tour Rookie of The Year and ball striker extraordinaire is on many people's list this week as a player to watch out for. Like many of the ball striker mold though, Grillo's weaknesses are in the short game - scrambling and putting. He finished 2nd at The Barclays in the playoff opener at Bethpage Black.
Roberto Castro (66-1)
Castro is another ball striker who hits it very straight and could easily find success at a track like East Lake but he too struggles with the putter. He has done well at Ross courses in the past and is coming off of a 3rd place finish last week at The BMW.
Kevin Na (55-1)
Kevin Na is indeed a long shot to be the betting pick for this event but remember, there are only 30-players in the field and I feel this number offers very good value for a player that sets up very well on this course. Na is a solid putter, hits it extremely accurate off of the tee, is a very respectable scrambler, consistent in greens in regulation - and ranks 2nd on Tour in Par 4 Scoring. All of that at 55-1 amongst a field of 30 is pretty good. In addition, he performs well at Donald Ross courses with at 10th at this year's Wyndham, a 20th at the 2015 Barclays, and a 12th at the 2014 U.S. Open. As far as current form, he has not finished lower than 27th in an event since early June. I'll give the guy a shot here to pull through and win The Tour Championship. At 22nd in The FedEx Cup Standings, it is not likely that even a win here will earn him the Cup - but I will stick with Kevin Na to win the tournament.