The Tour Championship is the final tournament of the four-event FedExCup playoffs, where the top 30 ranked players in the FedEx race compete for the $10 million bonus and the chance be crowned FedExCup champion 2016.
During The BMW Championship, The Stats Zone identified the above names during pre-analysis as potential contenders due to current playoff form and skills required.
The FedExCup playoff events often produce some of the strongest fields of the season and 2016 has confirmed this with an average world ranking pre-tournament victory of seventh, confirming the strength and depth of the fields.
The Tour Championship has been held at East Lake Golf Club since 2004, and during the FedExCup finale has averaged a -11 winning total. Notable is the uniformity in the winning score where Tiger Woods was victorious with a -23 winning total in 2007 followed by Camilo Villegas’ -11 winning score the subsequent year. It is evident East Lake G.C. can considerably vary in its challenges depending on conditions and course set-up. Judging by past winners however does suggest approach play could be the deciding factor, with some of the best ball strikers in the game being victorious.
The three winners of the 2016 playoffs currently rank inside the top six, showing the importance of claiming one of the series titles. However, McIlroy’s poor finishes in The Barclays and BMW place him in sixth position, meaning for him to claim the FedEx Cup, Dustin Johnson must finished T2 or worse and as a result, McIlroy is relying on another player’s performance.
Unlike Rory, the FedEx top five ranked players heading to East Lake all have their destiny in their own hands – win The Tour Championship and take home the $10 million bonus. Since 2010 – when a slight rule change was introduced to the FedExCup – the winner at East Lake has acquired the overall FedEx Cup, and it is highly likely this will be the case again during 2016.
Paul Casey has produced some of this best golf in years, finishing runner-up in The Barclays and Deutsche Bank as well as two top 10s during the season’s majors (playoff average 12th). His last worldwide victory came almost two years ago to date at the 2014 KLM Open, suggesting his game starts to peak towards the end of the summer. Nevertheless, it is an almighty ask for him to take his game to yet another level for victory.
Dustin Johnson’s overall season has been impressive, with three wins – including the U.S. Open – 14 top 10s and only one missed cut from 21 events, which rightly places him at number one in the FedExCup. Although an average placing of ninth during the playoffs demonstrates good form, perhaps the streakiness of 18th during The Barclays and eighth at The Deutsche suggests winning The Tour Championship is less likely than other contenders.
Patrick Reed has produced 11 top 10s finishes this season, showing a level of consistency in his game. His win at The Barclays was his first victory on tour in over 18 months, which catapulted him to the top of the FedExCup rankings, producing an average of sixth place during the playoff events. However, coming off a 13th finish at The BMW, it is possible he has peaked too soon to carry over his form to East Lake.
Jason Day had to withdraw during The BMW Championships due to a niggling – and seemingly ongoing – back injury but with a week off in between events, it appears as though he’ll be lining up at East Lake nonetheless. Although he has won in the past with similar issues, it is difficult to assess whether he can bring the game required to win against 30 of the best players, however of the two playoff events completed he has average fifth position and is one of the few players in the game who can win with his back against the wall.
Adam Scott currently ranks third in the FedEx and yet is a player who somewhat has gone under the radar. With two victories during the early part of the season, his form has been modest since. Nevertheless, he has finished fourth in each of the three playoff events – the best of any player – and appears to be regaining his early season form and consequently could be the main player to beat at East Lake.
Charl Schwartzel and J.B. Holmes managed to produce their best golf during the BMW Championship to sneak their way into East Lake. Furthermore, with Holmes gaining 14 places, this was perhaps the deciding factor in making the Ryder Cup team, with his ability to produce when it matters the most. Many of the International names who qualified will be participating with the mind-set of nothing to lose and only big money bonuses to gain. However, Bubba Watson, Ryan Moore and Justin Thomas have it all to play for in potentially being selected as Captain Love’s final Ryder Cup member.
With such a strong field at The Tour Championship, the FedExCup winner will not necessarily win at East Lake, which could lead to an anti-climax. However, excluding Casey, the remaining top six places all rank inside the world’s top 10 players and have the capacity and experience to produce in what each player will class as a major triumph in their golfing careers. With the top five having mathematical chances of winning without being the Tour Championship winner, this could result in conservative play over the four rounds.