After over 40 events throughout the year, the 2019 PGA Tour season has reached it’s climax! The Tour Championship will mark the end of the season and crown the winner of the monster $15,000,000 FedEx Cup first prize!
We have a full preview and betting tips for the 2019 Tour Championship, kicking off this Thursday from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
In one of the most dominant performances of the PGA Tour season to date, Justin Thomas smoked the field at the BMW Championship on the weekend, including a course record 61 in Round 3 to finish -25 and three strokes clear of his nearest opponent.
The win means that Thomas now sits atop the FedEx Cup standings heading into the final event of the year, and with the revamped handicap system in 2019, it means that he will start the Tour Championship at 10 under par.
In previous years, players won points at the Tour Championship which counted towards the eventual crowning of the FedEx Cup. However, in 2019 players will be handicapped on their current standings in the FedEx Cup and the winner of the Tour Championship will also be crowned the FedEx Cup Champion!
Only the top 30 players in the current standings have qualified for the Tour Championship, with Justin Thomas topping the list after his win last weekend. He’ll start with a two stroke advantage over his nearest opponent, Patrick Cantlay, with the remaining players handicaps all scaled based on their standings.
The results of the playoffs and the current standings/handicaps for the Tour Championship can be seen in the table below.
No surprises that we have yet another star studded field this week at East Lake. Only the top 30 players on the FedEx Cup standings after the BMW Championship on the weekend advance through to the next round. Led by Justin Thomas, the top 10 is packed with talent including Patrick Cantley, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson and an unlikely name in Mexican, Abraham Ancer
There is a strong international contingent in the field. Along with McIlroy, Rahm and Ancer, Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman also found their way into the cut as well as Englishmen Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood. Despite the lack of a win in the 2019 season, Hideki Matsuyama finds himself in the top 30, along with Corey Connors, Im Sung-Jae and Louis Oosthuizen to round out the internationals.
There are a few glaring names who failed to make the top 30 cut for the Tour Championship, most notably the defending champion, Tiger Woods. Woods finished T37 at the BMW Championship on the weekend leaving him in 42nd place on the standings. Other notable names to miss the cut include major winners Shane Lowry, Francesco Molinari, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Henrik Stenson.
East Lake Golf Club was designed by Tom Bendelow back in 1908 and is the original home of the Atlanta Athletic Club. The course plays as a 7,385 yard, par 70, and has been a regular host of the Tour Championship since the 2004 season.
AS you would expect for the final event of the year and the richest of the 2019 PGA Tour season, the East Lake Golf Club provides a fair test of gold and no one real type of player has a clear advantage here. With only the best 30 players in the world at the moment competing, it will be even harder to determine a winner this weekend.
One of East Lake’s key challenges lie in the greens and the undulation of the Bermuda Grass. Three putt avoidance is definitely a stat that we’ll be keeping a close eye on this weekend, as scores from around -7 to -12 have tended to be enough over the last decade at the Tour Championship.
It’s a bit different trying to find a winner this weekend compared to a normal PGA Tour event. Sure we are looking for the player that is going to handle East Lake Golf Course the best, but we also have to think about the starting handicaps. It’s very unlikely that any of the players outside of the current top 15 will be able to gain enough strokes at East Lake to win it, as they will all start from E to -2.
The safe option would obviously be to go with Justin Thomas here. He absolutely blitz the field last week, which seemed to complete a return from injury troubles throughout the year and he finished 2nd in the Tour Championship last time it was held at East Lake back in 2017. The second place finish wrapped up the FedEx Cup for the American and he will start as heavy favourite to win his second this year.
One guy who we like for value this weekend is Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman finds himself in fifth place on the FedEx Cup standings and will start the tournament at 5 under par. He already has one Tour Championship victory under his belt and has had strong finishes in both of the playoff events so far with a T6 at The Northern Trust followed by a T19 finish at the BMW Championship.
Rory is one of the best players on tour at catching fire, so if he is on this weekend he should be able to eat up that five shot handicap pretty comfortably. We don’t fancy anyone coming from more than five shots back, so Rory seems like the best value bet this weekend.
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