The PGA Tour heads to East Lake in Atlanta for the season ending finale. The richest purse in Tour golf is set at $75m, with the winner taking home a whopping $18m. The tour’s top 30 golfers will battle it out for the top prize with a unique format on a beautiful golf course. Let’s break down the Tour Championship ahead of the tournament getting underway.
The FedEx Cup started in 2005 but the first edition of the tournament was played in 2007. The FedEx Cup was the first time the playoff format was introduced in golf and it was as a move to mirror other American sports such as basketball and the NFL. The players would earn FedEx Cup points during the regular season with the aim being to be the golfer with the highest points. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 players would get a chance to compete in the playoffs. In recent times that has changed to 70 players.
The first winner of the FedEx Cup in 2007 was, in a surprise to very few people, Tiger Woods and last year Rory McIlroy broke the record for the most FedEx Cup titles with three. In its short history, the FedEx Cup has produced some of the tours most memorable moments. From Jim Furyk’s backwards hat finish in the rain, Bill Haas’ incredible shot from the water in 2011, Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel’s surprise wins to Rory McIlroy’s incredible come from behind win last year. The winners history of the FedEx Cup are as follows.
2007: Tiger Woods
2008: Vijay Singh
2009: Tiger Woods
2010: Jim Furyk
2011: Bill Haas
2012: Brandt Snedeker
2013: Henrik Stenson
2014: Billy Horschel
2015: Jordan Spieth
2016: Rory McIlroy
2017: Justin Thomas
2018: Justin Rose
2019: Rory McIlroy
2020: Dustin Johnson
2021: Patrick Cantlay
2022: Rory McIlroy
Yardage: 7,346 yards
Course designer: Tom Bendelow, George Adair, Donald Ross, George Cobb, Rees Jones
Course record: 60 – Zach Johnson
The Atlanta Athletic Club was founded and created 1898, and in 1904 they purchased land to build East Lake Golf Club which opened four years later, with Bobby Jones in attendance.
After hosting the Ryder Cup in the mid 60s the course began to crumble and after a house was built on land sold from the property the course was in trouble.
In 1993 the East Lake foundation was set up and the course that we know today was restored. Soon after the PGA Tour announced that East Lake Golf Club would be the home of their lucrative season-ending finale.
With its status as the crescendo to the PGA tour season, an influence of the nearby Augusta National on the golf course and the testing nature of narrow fairways and thick rough, the course, while only on the tour for 16 years, has become one of the most well known in the world and has been a regular part of the PGA Tour.
In 2016 the PGA Tour announced that they were flipping the 9s for the tournament, due to the finishing par 3 being “anti-climactic”. The finishing hole would now be a par 5 with a difficult drive and it has proved to be an inspired decision.
In 2019 it was announced that the FedEx Cup would implement a staggered scores system, where players would start on different scores depending on their ranking in the FedEx Cup standings, with the top player starting on 10-under-par, second starting on 8 under and so on.
The stars from both sides of the Atlantic are set to battle it out, with FedEx Cup leader Scottie Scheffler listed as the betting favourite. Scheffler is on the verge of breaking the record for most on course money earned in one season and is coming off a 2nd place finish at the BMW championship, only losing to a back nine 28 from Viktor Hovland.
Hovland will start at 8-under-par and is red hot off the back of his stellar come from behind victory at Olympia Fields, III. Hovland seems to be striking the ball better than ever and will look to continue his form this week and claim the title.
Rory McIlroy will start the tournament at 7-under par and he is three shots back, coming from behind at East Lake. In 2016 McIIroy was two shots behind Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore when he stood in the middle of the 16th fairway. Mcilroy holed out from 130 yards for eagle and went on to beat Ryan Moore in a playoff to win the FedEx Cup and the bonus.
After another jackpot win in 2019, Mcilroy started the 2022 FedEx Cup on 4-under-par, but his start could not have been worse. The Northern Irishman started with a triple bogey seven followed by a bogey and ended up 10 shots off the leader Patrick Cantlay before Cantlay teed off.
McIlroy went on to shoot 21-under-par from that point to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im by a stroke to win the FedEx Cup for a record 3rd time. McIlroy’s history along with his nine top 10s in a row and his great putting record at East Lake puts him as many people’s favourite, despite Scheffler being the bookies favourite.
Masters champion Jon Rahm is also up there with the favourites despite poor recent results. Rahm is a big game player and it wouldn’t be surprising if he mounted a charge from 6-under-par.
As for a surprise come-from-behind victory, although unlikely, my pick would be Patrick Cantlay. Cantlay won the 2021 Tour Championship and although he is starting on 4-under-par is more than capable of making a charge at the title.
The Tour Championship gets underway at East Lake Golf Club in Georgia on Thursday evening.