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Tour Championship Preview and Picks

   by Matt Fargo - 09/18/2012

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 12th time including the last nine. At 7,319 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. New greens were put in after the first year East Lake hosted the final stage of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and are significantly tougher.

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. However as mentioned, it is the putting that will trump that as Bill Haas, Tiger Woods And Vijay Singh, three of the past four champions at East Lake, led the field in putting.

The top five this week consists of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker and as stated, a win by any of these players no matter where the others finish means a big payday of $10 million. The other 25 players in the field all can win but everything has to fall exactly into place for the majority of those so the winner likely will come from a player currently ranked in or close to the top 10.

The favorites this week are McIlroy and Woods, both around 4/1 and in my opinion, not worthy of a bet because of the low value. We could do a hedge bet with each to recoup some of the other losses should either of those win but the return on investment is minimal. Throwing a unit on each will return just two net units since both cannot win but by all means feel free to do so if you want to increase the action.

Dustin Johnson (+1,200) comes in as one of the top favorites and rightfully so despite being outside the top five. He is currently ranked seventh in the FedEx Standings so he is very much alive. He started the year slow because of injuries but has caught fire at the right time. He has a T3, T4 and T6 through the first three playoff events and while his best finish at East Lake is T22 in three starts, this could be the year he breaks out.

While many feel it has been a disappointing year for Phil Mickelson (+1,200), the fact that he is sitting fourth in the FedEx Cup Standings means his year has been pretty solid. He is catching fire at the right time as he has a T4 and a T2 in the last two events. He has qualified for the TOUR Championship every year of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and he has won on this course twice so he cannot be counted out.

This is a bit of a surprise number for Brandt Snedeker (+3,000) since he is ranked fifth in the standings but comes in tied for 15th in the odds. He is coming off a disappointing T37 at The BMW Championship but prior to that had a solo second at The Barclays and a solo sixth at the Deutsche Bank Championship. After missing the Tour Championship the last three years, he finished T16 here last year and his putting can win it this year.

We cannot leave Bo Van Pelt (+3,000) out of the mix this week after backing him quite a bit this year. He is without a win but he has nine top tens and his T10 at the BMW Championship vaulted him up to 19 in the FedEx Cup Standings. He has qualified for the TOUR Championship each of the last two years and finished solo ninth last year as he led the field in greens hit. A hot putter can rise him to the top.

This is the one event where a longshot could have a tough time with everything on the line but with just 30 players in the field, Hunter Mahan (+5,000) should be out to prove something. He came in last place at the BMW Championship which was the same week he found out he did not make the Ryder Cup team. With a week off, he is now out to show he belonged. He lost in a playoff at East Lake a year ago.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the TOUR Championship – All for 1 Unit

Dustin Johnson (+1,200)

Phil Mickelson (+1,200)

Brandt Snedeker (+3,000)

Bo Van Pelt (+3,000)

Hunter Mahan (+5,000)

Record to date after 35 events: +32.1 Units

Sony Open -5 Units

Humana Challenge -6 Units

Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units

Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units

Northern Trust Open -5 Units

Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units

Honda Classic -5 Units

WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units

Transitions Championship +6 Units

Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units

Shell Houston Open +16 Units

The Masters -6 Units

RBC Heritage -5 Units

Valero Texas Open -4 Units

Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units

Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units

THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units

HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units

Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units

The Memorial -5 Units

FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units

U.S. Open -5 Units

Travelers Championship -5 Units

AT&T National -5 Units

Greenbrier Classic -5 Units

John Deere Classic +8 Units

The Open Championship +36 Units

RBC Canadian Open -5 Units

Bridgestone Invitational -5 Units

PGA Championship -6 Units

Wyndham Championship -5 Units

The Barclays -5 Units

Deutsche Bank Championship -5 Units

BMW Championship -5 Units

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