The staggered scoring system of the Tour Championship returns to East Lake this week as the top-30 players on the PGA Tour compete for the FedExCup.
Points leader and world number one Scottie Scheffler will begin the week with a two-shot advantage, starting out at 10-under par over defending FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay who jumped into second spot after winning second consecutive BMW title.
“This is the only week of the year where you actually get strokes on the field, but I think I’ll be best suited if I just ignore that and just go out there and play my game and do my best,” said Scheffler.
“East Lake is a great golf course. It’s challenging in spots. You can get it in some spots. I think it’s kind of one of those places where if you’re playing really well, it can kind of open up for you. You usually see a couple really low rounds a day there and you’ll see some guys struggle, as well. I think it’s a pretty good test.”
Will Zalatoris was expected to tee-up from seven-under par having withdrawn midway through his moving day round last week in Delaware after hearing a crunch in his hip. However, on Tuesday he withdrew due to a back injury.
“After Will’s withdrawal from the BMW Championship on Saturday, his medical team determined that the source of his back pain is two herniated discs,” read a PGA Tour statement.
“Unfortunately, this means that Will is unable to play this week at the Tour Championship. He is also very disappointed that he will not have the opportunity to play in next month’s Presidents Cup, where he was hoping to play for Captain Love and represent the United States.”
As a result of his withdrawal, if all 29 players finish 72 holes, Zalatoris will finish 30th in the FedExCup while starting strokes for the remaining 29 players will not be affected.
Meanwhile, Xander Schauffele will start at six-under, and Sam Burns five-under, while Rory McIlroy is in a group of players teeing off from minus-four, including the presumably rejuvenated Cameron Smith who, if reports are to be believed, will look to sign off on his PGA Tour career with the money-list title before joining LIV Golf having sat out last week’s BMW.
The bottom five players out of the top-30 teeing up will have a ten-shot deficit to make up on Scheffler, with the winner of the Tour Championship set to bank the $18 million bonus pool – the largest ever and three million more than last year’s jackpot.
Shane Lowry will be kicking himself after narrowly missing out last week at the BMW. Players teeing up at this week’s East Lake showpiece are guaranteed $500k just for qualifying. Zalatoris will pocket half a million dollars for finishing 30th.