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Tour Championship Odds Analysis
The 2021-22 season concludes with the TOUR Championship in Atlanta. All 30 players who have reached this point are exempt from qualifying for next year’s four major tournaments and will compete this weekend for a $18 million prize.
The structure for the season-ending tournament is unlike any other on the PGA Tour, with Scottie Scheffler starting with a two-shot advantage over Patrick Cantlay at 10-under par. Complete starting positions are listed here. Will Zalatoris (back) is the only player not competing this week, as 18 of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are in the field.
Patrick Cantlay maintained his pre-tournament lead and defeated Jon Rahm by one stroke to win his maiden TOUR Championship a year ago. Since 2004, East Lake Golf Club has hosted the final tournament, which has usually been one of the most challenging tests on Tour, with the highest score since 2007 being 15-under. A par-70 course with almost 7,300 yards, a few water hazards, narrow fairways, and long par-3s that require mid-to-long irons. With only two par-5 holes and heavy rough, there are few opportunities to score, and locating fairways is essential. At East Lake, approach play is typically less of a factor than at a conventional course, with golfers relying on driving and scrambling to score well.
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Extraordinary at East Lake
Since 2017, these players with at least two appearances have the lowest scoring average at East Lake.
- Xander Schauffele: 67.3
- Justin Thomas scored 68.0
- Rory McIlroy scored a 68.1
- Viktor Hovland: 68.1
- Scottie Scheffler: 68.3
Schauffele is in third place and four strokes back, but based on his form at East Lake, he has the best chance to make up the gap. The FedExCup runner-up in 2017 and 2020 was unable to overcome a seven-shot deficit at the start of the week. Schauffele like the Bermuda greens at East Lake, where he has improved his putting by 0.84 strokes in 20 career rounds. McIlroy will tee off from a six-shot deficit. In three of his last five appearances in the tournament, McIlroy has led the field in strokes gained off the tee. McIlroy just finished in the top 10 at the BMW Championship, where he led the field in strokes gained tee-to-green but dropped 4.6 shots on the greens.
Drive For Display
In their last 20 rounds, the following five golfers gained the most strokes off the tee each round.
Scottie Scheffler: 0.92
Matt Fitzpatrick: 0.90
Sungjae Im: 0.84
0.77 for Cameron Young
Corey Conners’s score is 0.76
Scheffler begins the week with a two-shot lead, which isn’t the only thing to appreciate about him this week, as he is the only player to appear on both lists. In 2020, he led the field in approach strokes gained his route to earning the week’s second-lowest score. His recent dominance with the driver should be a significant benefit on East Lake’s narrow fairways. Conners is always a prime target at a course that requires length and accuracy with the driver, as he averages over 300 yards off the tee and is 21st in driving accuracy this season. Conners begins the tournament at one-under. In his two TOUR Championship outings, he’s gained a respectable 0.67 strokes off the tee.
TOUR Championship Picks: Straight-Up Wagers
How many players can win this week realistically? Most likely, there are only a few. Last year, Kevin Na started eight strokes behind the leader, scored 14-under (tied with Jon Rahm for the lowest gross), but still finished five strokes behind Cantlay. To win the FedExCup, anyone starting at less than four-under par would need a record-setting performance. As a result, I am mostly interested in wagers that do not include starting strokes in order to maximize payment potential.
Jonathan Thomas (12-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Thomas has an excellent track record at East Lake with two second-place finishes, one of which occurred before the new format. At three-under to begin the week, it seems unlikely that he will be able to make up enough ground, but he is well than capable of scoring the lowest gross. This season, Thomas is an outstanding third in strokes gained from tee to green.
Matt Fitzpatrick (18-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Not bad for a player who has developed as an exceptional driver and is one of the top all-around golfers in the world. Fitzpatrick is the eighth pick on the board. He is making his maiden trip to East Lake, but there is no reason to believe that his game won’t be suited to the course, as he plays his best golf in challenging conditions.
The baseball player Billy Horschel (35-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Horschel has affection for the competition, having won it in 2014 and came within two strokes of Tiger’s victory in 2018. This week, he intends to combine his driving accuracy and short game to climb the leaderboard. He is currently enjoying his best statistical season in the last four years.
Other TOUR Championship Wagering
Top-Five Placement With Beginning Strokes: 11-2
Niemann will likely need to shoot around 12 under par to finish in the top five, which should be within his range of possibilities. While he has not showed much at East Lake in the past, he is in excellent form, having gained 1.68 strokes from tee-to-green per round thus far in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Five-Place Finish Without Beginning Strokes: 7-1
Stallings’ qualification for his first TOUR Championship at the age of 37 is impressive, but who’s to say the momentum can’t continue for another week? Five of his previous six appearances have resulted in a top-15 finish, making him one of the Tour’s hottest golfers.
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