By Mike Glasscott, Rotoworld
FedExCup Playoffs FINAL
The TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola
East Lake Golf Club
East Lake Golf Club
Yards: 7,307 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Mini-verde Bermudagrass; 6,100 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass at 2”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architects: Tom Bendelow (1908); Donald Ross (1913); George Cobb (1963); Rees Jones (1994; 2008)
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000; $10 million bonus if the winner also wins the FedExCup Playoffs.
FexExCup Points: 2,500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker held off Justin Rose to win the tournament and the FedExCup Championship. That’s $11.4 million if you’re scoring at home!
Dates: September 18-21
Notes: The players seeded No. 1 through No. 5 will win the FedExCup Playoffs if they win the tournament. Any other player in the 30-man field will need “help” if they are to win the $10 million bonus and FedExCup championship. The format is 72 holes and no cut. #Everbodygettingpaid
Related Link: Tour Championship: 5 Things You Need to Know
Nick Watney (No. 34) and Luke Donald (No. 54) were the only two players to play themselves into East Lake with their performances last week at Conway Farms. Watney finished second and Donald finished T4 on his home course.
Hunter Mahan has now played every possible playoff event. #consistency
Steve Stricker, Mickelson and Mahan are the only three players to play The TOUR Championship in all six Playoff seasons. They will all need help to win the BIG prize this week as they all sit outside the top five.
Brandt Snedeker is the first player to defend his FedExCup title. #weird
There have been 39 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 31 of them. The rest of the world, Australia and Sweden, have won the first two playoff events.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FIVE times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32) TWICE, Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32) TWICE, G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49), Woodland (29), Dufner (34), Reed (23), Stenson (37), Zach Johnson (37) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 14 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 20 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have FIVE wins.
In the six seasons of the Playoffs, a rookie has played in The TOUR Championship each season. There has been one each year. That’s weird. Jordan Spieth checks in at No. 10 after his T19, T4 and T16 cashes in this year’s Playoffs. He’s the only one. That’s a very odd streak.
Past Champions in the field include:
Tiger Woods (1999, 2007)
Phil Mickelson (2000, 2009)
Adam Scott (2006)
Jim Furyk (2010)
Bill Haas (2011)
Brandt Snedeker (2012)
Only Adam Scott has not won the FedExCup of the players listed above because the Playoffs started in 2007.
If East Lake was good enough for Bobby Jones, it should be good enough to settle who will be the wealthiest player on TOUR in 2013. Notice I didn’t say the best. The pros will tell you that the majors are what they are playing for when the season starts but, once the season is wrapping up, there’s not ONE of them who wouldn’t like to get their hands on the FedExCup trophy PLUS $10 million smackeroos.
This classic golf course has hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup, the 2001 U.S. Amateur plus The TOUR Championship since 2004. As we saw at Oak Hill at the PGA Championship, another Donald Ross design, keeping the golf ball on the right part of the green will be the biggest asset to the players this week. It won’t hurt to look at players who can also putt on lightning-fast greens but that will be more up to Mother Nature. Donald Ross-designed courses will confuse your eyes and the lines into and around the greens will take nerve to commit and execute the shot.
The interesting story here is the players who have previously had successes here. The list has contained players who crush it to those players who have excellent short games to premium iron players. Since replacing the Bentgrass greens with Mini-Verde Bermudagrass in 2008, the winning scores have been 10-under or worse. The new grass can be cut really short and they can really slick up the greens so premium players again will have an advantage. Just like any great course, all facets of the game will be tested and the winners and runners-up over the last few years suggest both ball-strikers and short-game wizards can both succeed here.
This was the list of winners of Playoff events before last week. We add Zach Johnson to the list so not much has changed. Big players win big tournaments at the biggest time of the year.
2009: Stricker (DBC), Woods (BMW) and Mickelson (TC)
I’ll use the same formula as last week: Those who I endorse will be in ITALICS. I’ll start at No. 1 and work my way to No. 30. Buckle up!
Tiger Woods: When the money is on the table and he’s playing on a course where he’s won before, I can’t look anywhere else. I will if his back acts up before Thursday morning. I’m not sure why this couldn’t have been remedied in the week off before Chicago but if he can walk, he’s going to play. He’s hit the top 10 eight times in 13 tries and has won twice. Since the change of greens, his only two finishes are second in 2009 and T8 last year. Who putts fast greens better than he does? He’ll hope it is pushing 14’ on the Stimpmeter and THAT will make his back feel better.
Henrik Stenson: His Summer of fun has been quite a ride but his putter went ice cold last week in Chicago and those greens won’t be nearly as quick as the ones in Atlanta. He could possibly par the course to death but he will have to watch his speed with the flat stick on the greens. He’ll be hoping for rain and humidity! He’s a heck of a player having a heck of a season and could pull a Bill Haas in his first trip but that’s not what I see. #fade
Adam Scott: His victory in 2006 should give him the confidence and Scott has been a big-game hunter over the last few years. He’s been under par in seven of 16 rounds since his victory but only has one top 10 in four events (T6 in 2011). If he wins the FedExCup and the Masters in the same season, he’ll probably move to Georgia. Probably not but he’ll enjoy the Player of the Year award for 2013. There’s plenty of motivation and the man on his bag knows his way around this joint as well. I can’t dismiss him.
Zach Johnson: Speaking of great runs in the summer time, Johnson has been on quite a ride himself after a slow start. He’s won three times in the state of Georgia, twice at the defunct AT&T Classic at TPC Sugarloaf and once at Augusta so he should feel quite relaxed after his victory Monday. His decision to skip The Barclays to be his brother’s best man in his wedding was justified and a man with a clear conscience can relax and play golf. In six starts, he’s never finished worse than T16 and has T9 in 2010 to go along with T2 from 2007. It’s a tall order to win back-to-back but he’s steady enough to make it happen.
Matt Kuchar: He has played the last three seasons in this event but has only three rounds in the 60s out of 12. Sure, he played at Georgia Tech but that was in the mid-90s so that’s not going to be a determining factor this week for me. I’m more interested in his current form. He had three of his four rounds two-over or worse at Conway Farms. His fourth round was 61. Nothing like a nice, consistent pattern to follow! He’s won at the Memorial. He’s won THE PLAYERS. He’s won WGC-Match Play. He’s won The Barclays. He has the pedigree to win an event of this magnitude.
Steve Stricker: Well, there’s no way I can get off him now. He’s cool with ditching the Elk hunting trip so that’s all I need to know. The only concerning issue is that he hasn’t been better than T15 in the last three seasons after his T6 in 2009. I’m riding the hot hand here.
Graham DeLaet: I’m not a hater but I don’t think this is where I reach for the Canadian just based on his ranking in the FedExCup Playoffs. He had a nice 67 on Monday at Conway Farms to move up to T28 but I’m not reaching for him this week. This learning experience will do nothing except fan his flames in the Presidents Cup and getting him geared up for next season.
Phil Mickelson: This will be his 17th time around East Lake so I’ll argue that his experience can be the difference this week. His victory here over Woods in 2009 saw him open with 73 so he knows he can make up ground and be patient. Mickelson has gamers right where he wants them. You buy because of his course history, not because of he’s fired one of his last seven rounds in the 60s since his opening 63 in Boston. I’m leaving him for someone else so I don’t have to fret about it all weekend.
Justin Rose: Here’s another premium player who found himself as the co-54-hole leader here last year before losing to Snedeker by two shots. A quiet week in Chicago can be dismissed but he did fire par or better in three of the four rounds. He finds too many fairways and greens to leave out and he was second here last year.
Brandt Snedeker: He’s the only player to have a chance to defend his FedExCup trophy since the Playoffs began in 2008. His victory last year was the lowest score, 10-under, since the new greens were installed in 2008. He’s one of the best putters anywhere, let alone on fast, slick greens. I believe he’s just a click off as he couldn’t capitalize on his opening round 63 as he played the weekend one-over at Conway Farms. He was playing much better at this time last year before his $11.4 million pay day. He needs help to win it all this year as he begins at No. 10.
Jim Furyk: He’s catching grief for not finishing the deal and he hasn’t won on TOUR since he clinched the 2010 FedExCup Playoffs with a win in the rain. The harder the course, the more I love Furyk and he falls right into line this week. In 14 career starts, he’s hit the top 10 a staggering nine times. NINE TIMES. His form suggests he’ll be in the fight come Sunday as well. Gamers will hope he’s coming from off the pace instead of leading it. He was the 54-hole leader at Oak Hill this summer, another Donald Ross design.
Nick Watney: He’s the candidate for the 2013 Snedeker. He’s saved his best golf for the last three weeks as he was T9 at Barclays and second last week in Chicago. He made a ton of putts at Conway Farms so his confidence should be flying but he’s only broken par once in his last eight rounds at East Lake. He’ll knock the logo off the ball and if his putter cooperates I can see him mixing it up Sunday afternoon.
Jordan Spieth: #ILOVEIT. He’s third in the all-around and he’s 20. He’s never played under this pressure or on courses like this and he just keeps producing. He’s not afraid and neither am I!
Jason Day: It seems like every time there is a big golf tournament on an old historic course that Day is in the mix. He was T6 here in 2011 and his short game will come in handy as will his length off the tee. Plenty of good players this week and he’s in the mix.
Hunter Mahan: Last season he was T8 and in 2011 he lost in a playoff to Bill Haas after that shot from the lake bed. He closed last week 65-67 en route to his T4 finish. He was T25 and T13 leading into that event so he’s peaking at the right time. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won this week.
Keegan Bradley: He’s fired 66 or better in his last five tournaments so, as I’ve written at least four times, he’s knocking. He only has one round of eight under par at East Lake and that was 64 in 2011 the first time he saw the course. He went on to finish T11. Last year he was T23 at seven-over.
Gary Woodland: They say in life, timing is everything and Woodland’s 2013 season is proof of that. His victory and T2 three weeks apart took him from just making the Playoffs to finishing in the top 30. He’s made over $1.1 million of his $1.77 in three of his last five tournaments. The other two finishes were 74th and T41. I don’t have to stretch this much this week.
Bill Haas: If I told you that Haas has made only $300k-ish more than Kevin Streelman this year, would you be surprised? I was. In Haas’ only appearance at East Lake he won. The tournament. The $10 million. All of it. He also played all four rounds under par and beat Hunter Mahan in a playoff. I expect another solid week this week but his finishes of T25, MC and T28 in the Playoffs have soured me slightly.
Kevin Streelman: I thought last week would have been his week to make noise as he returned to his native Chicago but maybe he’s more suited to the narrows and ball-striking of a tighter set-up. He proved that theory earlier in the season as he won at Tampa Bay on a tough Innisbrook course. He was also T12 at Oak Hill and T9 in his only other appearance here. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
Jason Dufner: Speaking of players who like Donald Ross designs, Dufner surgically disemboweled Oak Hill on the Sunday at the PGA before two late and meaningless bogeys tripped him up. He fired 68 on that Sunday to win his first major. His “almost” first major came across the street at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011 when he lost toKeegan Bradley. He’s had other fun in Georgia as well as he was the 36-hole leader at the Masters in 2012.
Webb Simpson: It doesn’t seem like 15 months ago that he was firing 68 at Olympic to win the U.S. Open and that’s exactly how Simpson likes it, out of the spotlight. The dilemma this week is that he’s finished in the top 25 in five of his last six events but he hasn’t cracked a top 10. In eight rounds at East Lake he’s been par or better in six of them. He was 22nd in 2011 and T5 last year. Don’t forget he tied the course record at Oak Hill in round two at the PGA so there is something about Donald Ross courses that fits his eye. Sold.
Billy Horschel: His T18 last week was greatly helped by a closing round 66 but he really hasn’t put together four solid rounds together since the Memphis-Merion stretch in mid-June. He’s ground out over $3 million this season and I think he’s looking forward to a break.
Charl Schwartzel: After knocking out four rounds under par last week at Conway Farms in his first visit, I’m not as hesitant in endorsing him this week in his first trip to East Lake. He’ll be another player that hopes they get the greens rolling as fast as possible as he can really putt slick greens. He’ll be flying under the radar this week but he only has one round over par in 12 in the Playoffs. Shhhhhhhhhhhh.
Roberto Castro: Another player from the Georgia Tech stable that has seen this course from his college days, Castro has really held it together down the stretch with T25, T9 and solo 15th last week. He also played well at Oak Hill finishing T12. I don’t think he can win this week but I would be comfortable listing him in the top half.
Sergio Garcia: He’s another player that I have a terrible time reading. On paper, he loves East Lake as he’s finished fourth, T2 and second in seven trips. Yet, in the first three Playoff events, including DBC when he had a two-shot lead entering the final round, he’s fired over-par to close all three tournaments. His fourth round scoring average puts him 166th on TOUR and me looking somewhere else.
Boo Weekley: His only top 25 in the 11 events since he won at Colonial was T12 at another Donald Ross course, Oak Hill, at the PGA Championship. He managed par or better in three of four rounds after opening with 72. I’d expect another solid performance to end a very commendable year from Weekley but that putter makes me nervous.
Brendon de Jonge: He’s taken the opportunity in the Playoffs to cement his choice as a captain’s pick in the Presidents Cup and looks to be awfully comfortable playing with the house’s money. In three Playoff events he’s racked up finishes of T19, T9 and T18 so it looks like he’s caught up in his golf game and not the moment. His ball-striking will help him surprise again this week.
D.A. Points: In 11 events since June began, Points has missed the weekend in six of them. His T6 at The Barclays was his only finish in the top 40 in this streak. It’s his first time at East Lake so that’s not firing me up either. Pass.
Luke Donald: His last two top 10s have been on courses he has had a great history and the other one is his home layout. In his last three trips to Atlanta the Englishman has been second, T3 and T3 last year. He snuck in at No. 29 with his T4 finish last week so I’ll stick with the hot hand.
Dustin Johnson: He snuck in to The TOUR Championship on the heels of his T62 finish last week in Chicago. In 16 rounds at East Lake Johnson has found the 60s only four times, including two of four rounds last year. Nobody argues the talent is there but the results have been too up-and-down over the last month for me to endorse this week.
Jordan Spieth of the Week Last Week
The column was taken over and thrashed by the kid from Texas. He’s your Rookie of the Year, no questions asked.
Sony: Russell Henley WIN
Humana: David Lingmerth P2
Farmers: Brad Fritsch T9
WMPO: James Hahn T16
AT&T: James Hahn T3
NTO: Luke Guthrie T21
WGC-Match Play: Russell Henley 2nd round
Honda: Luke Guthrie 3rd
WGC-Cadillac: Russell Henley T28
Puerto Rico: Jordan Spieth 2nd
Tampa Bay: Jordan Spieth T7; Shawn Stefani T7; Ben Kohles T7
Arnold Palmer: Ben Kohles T14
Shell Houston Open: Robert Streb T22
Valero Texas Open: Ben Kohles T37
Masters: Russell Henley MC
RBC Heritage: Russell Henley T6
Zurich Classic: D. H. Lee T8
Wells Fargo Championship: Derek Ernst WIN
THE PLAYERS: David Lingmerth T2. Great back-to-back weeks for the rookies on TOUR!
HPBNC: Morgan Hoffmann T5
Colonial: Jordan Spieth, yep, him again, T7
Memorial: Russell Henley T6
FESJC: Patrick Reed Fifth
U.S. Open: David Lingmerth T17; special mentions for Hideki Matsuyama T10 and Michael Kim T17.
Travelers: Morgan Hoffmann T9
AT&T National: D.H. Lee T3; Jordan Spieth 6th; Morgan Hoffmann T8
Greenbrier: David Lingmerth and D.H. Lee both T9
John Deere: Jordan Spieth WIN
The Open Championship: Jordan Spieth T44
Sanderson Farms: Steve LeBrun T26
RBC Canadian: Patrick Reed T9
WGC-BI: Russell Henley T27
Reno-Tahoe: Scott Langley T21
PGA Championship: Hideki Matsuyama T19. #forreal
Wyndham: Jordan Spieth P2. #forrealreal
The Barclays: Jordan Spieth T19. He’s currently No. 9 in the Playoffs.
Deutsche Bank Championship: Jordan Spieth finished T4 after a final round 62.
BMW Championship: Jordan Spieth T16. This is a recording.
SEASON TOTAL: $6,689,685
A strong regular season finish has turned into a late-season collapse. Justin Rose, I apologize in advance…
HTOC: Steve Stricker (2nd; $665,000)
Sony: Charles Howell III (T3; $324,800)
Humana: Tim Clark (MC)
Farmers: Rickie Fowler (T6; $204,350)
WMPO: Jason Dufner (MC)
AT&T Pebble: Hunter Mahan (T16; $94,250)
Northern Trust: Bill Haas (T3; $343,200)
WGC-Match Play: Charl Schwartzel (T33; $46,000)
Honda: Lee Westwood (T9; $156,000)
WGC-Cadillac Championship: Matt Kuchar (T35; $68,500)
Tampa Bay: Jim Furyk (T7; $148,892)
Bay Hill: Sergio Garcia (WD after three rounds)
Shell Houston: Jimmy Walker (T50; $14,838)
Valero: Cameron Tringale (MC)
Masters: Phil Mickelson (T54; $18,320)
RBC Heritage: Luke Donald (T3; $336,400)
Zurich Classic: Bubba Watson (T15; $102,500)
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson (T32; $37,073)
THE PLAYERS: Nick Watney (MC)
HPBNC: Jason Day (T27; $46,565)
Colonial: Kevin Streelman (MC)
Memorial: K.J. Choi (T21; $58,202)
FESJC: Ryan Palmer (4th; $273,600)
US Open: Graeme McDowell (MC)
Travelers: John Rollins (MDF; $11,041)
AT&T National: Billy Horschel (T61; $14,040)
The Greenbrier Classic: Graham DeLaet (T30; $36,618)
John Deere Classic: Jordan Spieth (WIN; $828,000)
The Open Championship: Adam Scott (T3; $428,776)
RBC Canadian: Chris Kirk (T21; $54,160)
WGC-BI: Tiger Woods (WIN; $1,500,000)
PGA Championship: Henrik Stenson (3rd; $545,000)
Wyndham Championship: Zach Johnson (T5; $193,450)
The Barclays: Brandt Snedeker (MC)
DBC: Keegan Bradley
BMW: Dustin Johnson (T62; $17,120) BLARGH
The TOUR Championship: Justin Rose
GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge
The TOUR Championship
I play as “Glass” for ALL fantasy games. I violated my rule from earlier in the season last week that I need to always take Woods. Not making that mistake again!
Ned said, “…
Brandt Snedeker— I’m out of starts on Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Both are good plays this week, but Tiger is the stronger play of the two. I’m using Brandt Snedeker here because he is the defending champion at East Lake and he looked good last week at the BMW, where he tied for eighth place.
Sergio Garcia— He was the 54-hole leader at the DBC (finished T4) and his last three starts at East Lake have been solid with a pair of top 4s and a T15 last year.
Jim Furyk— He became the sixth player on the TOUR to card a round of 59 and his form has been excellent. He has five top 10s at East Lake in his last seven starts, including a championship in ’10.
Luke Donald— He wasn’t in form going into the BMW but an impressive final two rounds moved him into a tie for fourth place and an invite to the TOUR Championship. His recent record at East Lake is outstanding with a second place in ’10 and T3s in his last two starts.
Justin Rose— I think this spot is a tossup between Zach Johnson and Justin Rose. Johnson is in better form and won last week at the BMW, but Rose played well last year at the TOUR Championship in a second place finish. Johnson is probably the smarter pick, but I’ve felt for a while that Rose would do well at the TOUR Championship
Jason Day— I’ve run out of starts with Adam Scott, so I’m turning to another Australian in Jason Day. He looked great last week in his T4 at the BMW and he played well in his last TOUR Championship when he tied for sixth place in ’11.
Henrik Stenson— He seemed to run out of gas last week in his T33 finish at the BMW, but he is still in second place in the FEDEX Cup Points List and a win this week will earn him the FEDEX Cup plus $11.4 million in cash.
Points this year: 5,791
Overall Ranking: (375; 99th percentile)
Related Link: Tour Championship: 5 Things You Need to Know