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Tour Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 09/20/2011
After nine months and 40 events, we have reached the final stop on tour with The TOUR Championship. This week will decide the FedEx Cup Champion and the $10 million bonus that comes with it. A win by any of the players currently ranked in the top five are guaranteed the FedEx Championship while players outside the top five can still get it with a win and some help but the chances are slim.
The TOUR Championship takes place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta for the 11th time including the last eight. At 7,304 yards, East Lake is the second-longest par 70 the touring pros see all year but bombing the ball won’t necessarily get it done. Accuracy off the tee is a must as is putting. The welcomed news for scoring is that the summer was very dry meaning the rough is manageable so accuracy is not quite as big.
This is a course where each hole needs to be thought out and played backwards in order to get the best shots into the green. That makes greens in regulation very important to set up birdie opportunities from the best situations. This is the first time in the 11 years that there have been no changes done to East Lake which should help out participants from last year. There are just seven first time participants this year.
The reigning champion is Jim Furyk who won the championship despite coming in ranked 11th in the FedEx Standings. That gives hope to the players ranked outside the top five as they know, while the chances are slimmer the further down they go, they can still pull this whole thing out. Furyk closed with a 70 to win by a shot over Luke Donald. We will not be seeing Furyk this year as his Sunday 76 at Cog Hill dropped him to 36th.
This week's favorite is Luke Donald (+600) and while those odds seem like a very short return, you have to realize the field is cut by close to 80 percent. The stage is set for the world's number one player to bring it home and secure Player of the Year honors as well. He is ranked fourth in the standings after back-to-back top fours so he once again controls his destiny. As mentioned, he finished solo second here a year ago.
Matt Kuchar (+1,500) is on the short list of players that control their own destiny as he is currently fifth in the standings. After coming in second at the Barclays to open the playoffs, he has posted a T25 and a T22 the last two events but that actually may be a benefit here as it is difficult to play extremely well each week. That held true last year as his T25 at East Lake was a disappointment two top threes coming in.
Jason Day's (+1,500) biggest flaw could be his inaccuracy off the tee but that won't hurt him as much this week as the rough is light. He is 11th on tour in bogey avoidance which means he gets up and down no matter where he is. He is 10th in the standings and while he will need to win and get help, he has the game to do it. An opening round 77 at the BMW last week did him in. He finished T17 at East Lake a year ago.
K.J. Choi (+2,500) played well last week with a T10 to move up to 13th in the standings. He won THE PLAYERS Championship earlier this season so beating a big named field is not a problem and it is even more advantageous now that the field size has been cut down drastically. East Lake suits him fine as in his last two starts at the TOUR Championship, he finished T7 a year ago and solo ninth in 2008.
Geoff Ogilvy (+2,500) had to pull off some clutch play to get here. He barely snuck into the BMW as he made two huge putts at the Deutsche Bank Championship on the final two holes. He then needed to finish no lower than third last week and he walked away with a solo third. He locked up a spot on the President's Cup team because of it and now he can play under less pressure and see where it takes him. He finished T13 here last year.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at THE TOUR Championship – All for 1 Unit
Luke Donald (+600)
Matt Kuchar (+1,500)
Jason Day's (+1,500)
K.J. Choi (+2,500)
Geoff Ogilvy (+2,500)