Having highlighted some sportsbook picks in the previous article, it’s time to look at some alternative plays for the TOUR Championship. What makes this season-ender so interesting is the recently devised starting strokes system, which first came into play back in 2019. The system rewards the players with stronger seasons with stroke advantages coming in. Kind of like how the NFL gives a bye and home-field advantage to the conference teams with the best regular season. It’s a rather large playoff advantage for the already presumed best teams in the leagues.
Such a format mixes things up and overall, is an excellent way of spicing up the end of the FedEx Cup race. However, from a sportsbook betting point of view, it limits the number of realistic winners, which in turn can take the fun out of the outright winner market.
The way to solve this and reintroduce the missing excitement is to bet on the 72-hole Strokeplay market, which mirrors the regular outright market for any regular event in that it doesn’t account for the new starting strokes format, meaning that everybody starts from level par.
72 Hole Strokeplay Picks
Xander Schauffele – 1 Unit @ +1200
Since claiming the Olympic Gold Medal in fine style, Xander Schauffele has gone a bit quiet in terms of performances, which may worry some, but not me. This is a venue where the current world number five knows how to thrive.
He didn’t claim the FedEx Cup last season, but Schauffele did lead in strokes after 72 holes, which is encouraging, while his finishes of second, seventh, and first in the three years before that are hugely positive too. Essentially, the man from La Jolla is yet to have a bad time at East Lake, where he’s the man when it comes to strokes gained. No player in this field has picked up more strokes per 18 holes at the Atlanta course than Xander Schauffele, who gains 3.56 strokes on average here. It takes a brave bettor to disregard such information.
We know that Schauffele is a man for the big occasion, his string of high-placed finishes in the majors over the last few years proves that, while he’s simply a horse for this course, so expect the Olympic champion to be there or thereabouts as far as the 72 Hole Strokeplay is concerned.
Justin Thomas – 1 Unit @ +1400
With much of the focus on recent winner Patrick Cantlay, world number one Jon Rahm, and the divisive Bryson DeChambeau, someone like Justin Thomas has slipped under the radar a little bit, but do not forget about the 2017 FedEx Cup Champion, who knows how to thrive at this venue.
Thomas was only OK last week, so it would be wrong to say that he heads to East Lake off the back of his best golf, but he finished fourth at the NORTHERN TRUST a fortnight ago and may just be coming to the boil at the right moment.
We know that approach play is going to be important this week, which will suit Thomas down to the ground, as he’s rank two in this field for strokes gained: approach this season. Moreover, the American has said before that he loves this place, and his form figures here show that. The 28-year-old is yet to finish outside the top ten in five visits to East Lake, while only three players in this field gain more strokes per round on average at this venue.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that JT gets off to a flyer a makes a real fist of winning the TOUR Championship, claiming his second FedEx Cup, but that’s inconsequential for this bet. Starting level with everyone else in this market, Thomas looks to have a great chance of shooting the best overall score and at +1400, he’s worth betting on to do that.
Sam Burns – 1 Unit @ +3300
As mentioned in the fantasy preview, Sam Burns has had a coming-of-age season on the PGA Tour this time around, announcing himself as a likely event winner when finishing third at The Genesis Invitational back in February, and it wasn’t long before he broke his duck, claiming the Valspar at the start of May. In truth, he hasn’t looked back since, recording two seconds and an excellent eighth at the BMW Championship last week.
This will be the first time that Burns has tasted East Lake, but it’s not hard to envisage him being suited by the test. He’s strong on approach – ninth for strokes gained: approach in this field – while he knows how to get it done with the putter, ranking as fifth for strokes gained: putting. What’s more, across the last eight events, only two players in this field have gained more strokes in total, which really does show that the 25-year-old can mix it with the best in the game.