A season-long race will end at East Lake Golf Club this week, as 30 of the best players in the sport battle it out for the right to get their hands on both the FedEx Cup and $15,000,000. Having won the BMW Championship last time out, Patrick Cantlay leads the way, but there’s no shortage of big names stacked up behind him, so the race is far from over.
TOUR Championship General Information:
- Date: 2nd September – 5th September, 2021
- TV-Time: Golf Channel, 1pm-6pm, NBCSN, 2pm-7pm
- Venue: East Lake Golf Club
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Cut: N/A
- Prize Money: $15,000,000 to the winner
- Winner last year: Xander Schauffele won TOUR Championship (Dustin Johnson won FedEx Cup)
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
Hosted at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, the TOUR Championship marks the end of the PGA Tour season, as well as the finale of the FedEx Cup.
For the third year running, the competition will use the starting strokes format, which is a handicap system of sorts whereby players start at scores corresponding to their ranking. Current leader Patrick Cantlay will tee it up on Thursday with a two-shot advantage at -10. Tony Finau starts at -8, Bryson DeChambeau at -7, Jon Rahm and -6, Cameron Smith at -5 and so on. When it comes to the course, accuracy is going to be important, starting from off the tee. It’s not that the East Lake fairways are really tough to hit, they’re not, but there’s no shortage of trouble in the form of tree-filled areas, while the rough is nobody’s friend here. Moreover, the undulating greens need to be hit in the right spot, meaning that approach play is key too, and for optimum approach play, players want to be playing from the short stuff.
Expert Pick #1 – Xander Schauffele Top 10 Finish @+125
This is a course that Xander Schauffele loves, plain and simple. The Olympic champion doesn’t arrive here in the kind of form as some of his peers, but he has one of the most formidable records here, winning over 72 holes in both 2017 and 2020, finishing second and seventh in between those two victories. That sort of form should be taken very seriously indeed.
Starting the week at -2 means there’s not much pressure on Xander, who ought to be capable of playing with freedom, especially at a course where he’s literally never played poorly. Getting himself into the top ten only requires a few strokes to be gained, which really ought to be within the grasp of a player that gains an average of 3.56 strokes per round here. In fact, no player in this field picks up more strokes on average at East Lake.
For me, Xander really should be odds-on to break into the top ten, so getting on at +125 really does offer up a slice of value that can’t be missed.
Fedex Cup Rank: 17 | OWGR: 5
Approx. Start Time: 11:40 a.m. ET
Expert Pick #2 – Rory McIlroy Top 5 Finish @+400
McIlroy is another player who loves it at East Lake. In his post-tournament interview in Baltimore last week, the Northern Irishman spoke of looking forward to getting back to a venue where he’s done well in the past. The four-time major winner has lifted the FedEx Cup in Atlanta not once, but twice, while he warmed up with an excellent effort last week, finishing fourth.
Hitting the top five in three of his last six efforts at East Lake, McIlroy is the third best player in the field when it comes to averages strokes gained on this course, picking up 2.91 per round. He’s got a few shots to make up to get himself among the top five, but there’s little pressure on him to win from a start of -2, and a Rory freed from the shackles of expectation can be a dangerous scoring machine. Don’t write him off.
Fedex Cup Rank: 5 | OWGR: 13
Approx. Start Time: 11:50 a.m. ET
Expert Pick #3 – Scottie Scheffler to Finish Top 10 @+350
Scottie Scheffler has less East Lake experience than the pair above, but that didn’t stop him playing some outstanding golf on debut last season, when he shot the second-best 72-hole score.
Played steadily last week, but his form overall this season has been impressive. The man from New Jersey has recorded an impressive eight top-ten finishes, including in two of the majors, so we know he’s not overawed by the big occasion.
Only five players in the field make more birdies on average than Scheffler, who across the last eight events ranks inside the top ten for both strokes gained: off-the-tee and strokes gained: tee-to-green. Combine this with the fact that he gained an average of 3.31 strokes per round at this event last season and he rates as a standout top-ten bet at odds of +350.
Fedex Cup Rang: 25 | OWGR: 21
Approx. Start Time: 11:00 a.m. ET
2021 TOUR Championship Odds
*Odds as of Tuesday at 6pm