The Tour Championship’s claim to fame used to be that it was the only PGA tournament named after a fictitious tournament from the Academy Award winning film, “Happy Gilmore,” but since the start of the FedEx Cup a few years ago, the tournament has taken on the role of being…well, the Tour Championship. Sort of.
If the winner here is in the Top 5 in the FedEx Cup standings as of today, they will get the big check, and the Cup. If the winner comes from outside the top 5, any number of things can happen. Bob Harig wrote a good article about possible outcomes here.
The FedEx Cup system is obviously flawed, but the PGA has made progress with it since its inception, and they are praying for a win from either Tiger, Stricker, Furyk, Zach Johnson, or even Heath Slocum as this would make the system look good.
29 Nobodies, and a Tiger
Moving on, the final will consist of only a 30 golfer field. Unfortunately, a lot of the big names in golf have not made the cut for the final event. You won’t see last year’s champion Camilo Villegas out there, or everyone’s favorite Spaniard, Sergio. Ian Poulter’s bubble popped two weeks ago, and Adam Scott’s bubble popped when Kate Hudson dumped him. Anthony Kim won’t grace the fairways of Eastlake, and even last year’s FedEx man, Vijay did not qualify to vie for the coveted Gold Jacket.
So who is in the tournament you ask? Well, a lot of boring guys who hit fairways and greens. Apparently, that is how you win golf tournaments. Monsters of the sport like: Jerry Senden, Kevin Na, Marc Leishman, and Jason Dufner are all gonna be there to get those ratings up (all solid players, but not exactly Arnie Palmer clones). Phil made it, Tiger will be in Atlanta, and Paddy and Geoff fill out the list of interesting players. It is a group of good players, but it is also a field boring enough to know that TV cameras will follow Tiger, and only Tiger this weekend.
So, without further ado, my predictions.
My Four Horsemen:
Tiger did not win a major this year so you have to think this becomes a major for the winningest player this season. If he won Eastlake, no one could consider this a disappointing year for Woods. It would be his 7th win in 17 events, pretty ridiculous. Also, he dominated two weeks ago at the BMW. Tiger has two wins and three runners up finishes in this tourney. It hasn’t been his most consistent year, but Tiger is the clear favorite.
Jimmy played very well in the battle for 2nd place at the BMW two weeks ago. Furyk is making a case for big changes in the FedEx Cup by having a chance to win the thing without winning a single tournament this season. The very bald, 39-year old has turned it on of late, and has shown that the FedEx Cup is really about winning late. He really was in no position to contend until a 15th place finish in New York, 8th in Boston, and T-2nd last week at Cog Hill. If he stays hot, he could easily take the Cup.
This guy led the tour in Greens in Regulation this season, and can strike it off the tee, as well. Senden has no wins this season, but has made it to the weekend twenty times. The Aussie is one of those guys that could play spoiler in Atlanta.
Eastlake is a solid course, but not necessarily one for the longer hitters. At 7,154 yards, this is a course where this field could put up low scores. Also, Atlanta has been ravaged by rain of late, so the greens should be a little softer at least for the first couple days. So guys like Johnson who pound fairways and greens, but don’t boom it off the tee can contend. Johnson could finally prove hes a legitimate, albeit boring, star on the PGA tour with a victory and FedEx Cup.
With only 30 guys in the field at least I can be assured that my guys will be playing on the weekend. I got about a 13% chance of actually getting the winner this week.
Even though the field is a bit depleted, this should be a good battle, and with there being a good chance that the winner at Eastlake will take home the $10 Million FedEx check, look for nerves, and Tiger intimidation to be in full effect.
And if Shooter beats Happy, Happy quits golf, and Shooter turns Happy’s old room into a trophy room. Anything can happen at The Tour Championship.