Recap of the BMW Championship
Our team put in a solid effort this week as all three of our picks managed to play well throughout the tournament. McIlroy’s -22 would have usually put him in contention to win the championship; however, Cantlay and DeChambeau had other ideas and played phenomenally. It meant Rory had to settle for fourth place, which was still a success and a significant improvement on his recent showings. Webb Simpson backed McIlroy up by finishing in 12th, and Justin Thomas rounded an excellent week off by finishing 22nd.
This week the world’s top 30 golfers head to East Lake Golf Club for the TOUR Championship, concluding the FedEx playoffs. Let’s see if we can build on last week’s performance and get over the line with a winning pick. We will begin, as always, by taking a look at the history of the tournament as we start to build this week’s BeerLife Sports profile.
It’s TOUR Championship week at East Lake, the 2020-21 Super season’s final stop, and the field is stacked. The 30-player field will be fought in a handicap system once again and will feature several of the game’s biggest names, including each of the world’s top-10 players.
Since the first FedExCup playoff in 2007, the Tour Championship has been the FedExCup playoff finale. However, the event dates back 20 years. Before 2007, the field consisted solely of the top 30 money leaders from the previous PGA Tour season, and the tournament was held in the late fall. Tom Watson won the first event in 1987, finishing two strokes ahead of Chip Beck. Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Paul Azinger, David Duval, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson were among the other champions in the pre-FedExCup era.
In 2007, the Tour Championship moved from November to mid-September, where it ended the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs. Thirty players qualified for the event, like in previous years; however, the criteria for qualification were no longer based on prize money. Instead, the participants were decided by FedEx Cup points earned during the regular PGA Tour season and the three preceding playoff events. The FedExCup was trimmed to three events starting in 2019, and the Tour Championship would be hosted in late August rather than mid-September. In addition, the tournament implemented a new format called starting strokes to ensure that the winner was also the FedExCup champion.
Woods has three wins at the tournament, two of which came in the FedExCup format, the most recent of which was in 2018. The only two players who have won multiple times are Mickelson and McIlroy, with Tiger finishing second in both of Phil's victories. The Tour Championship has been held at East Lake Golf Club since 2004. However, the FedExCup is only a tiny portion of the club's history.
Let's turn our attention to the form of the previous five winners, analyze their rounds and see if we can find some crucial links to begin our BeerLife profile.
2020 Dustin Johnson -21 – Form 2/1/2/12
2019 Rory McIlroy -18 – Form 19/6/4/CUT
2018 Tiger Woods -11 – Form 6/24/40/2
2015 Jordan Spieth -9 – Form 13/CUT/CUT/2
2014 Billy Horschel -11 – Form 1/2/CUT/47
East Lake Golf Club is Atlanta's oldest golf course, and it was once home to the renowned Bobby Jones. It was initially built in 1904, but Donald Ross redesigned it in 1913, adding yet another legend to the club's history. Both the No. 1 and No. 2 golf courses on the site were renovated by Donald Ross, with both nines ending at the clubhouse. The club's reputation as a prominent southern golf course grew due to its staging of multiple significant amateur tournaments, including the Ryder Cup in 1963.
East Lake Golf Club's reputation had degraded over time due to suburban flight and degradation in the adjacent city neighborhood. This changed in 1993 when local businessman Tom Cousins bought the club intending to revitalize the neighboring community while also restoring the golf course to its original Donald Ross design. In 1994, Cousins hired Rees Jones, the son of Robert Trent Jones and designer of Torrey Pines and Bellerive Country Club, to expand the course, reposition and re-shape the bunkers, and restore the greens to Donald Ross' original specifications.
The course is set in a huge bowl, with the front and back nines running uphill from East Lake to the property's far eastern and western boundaries. The majority of Donald Ross' signature design elements are present. The golf course is challenging off the tee due to narrow fairways, strategically positioned fairway bunkers, and thick Bermuda rough. To get near to the pins at East Lake, you must hit from the fairway.
East Lake Golf Club is a Par 70 course that measures 7,346 yards. Unlike other golf courses where doglegs can be used to shorten the course, everything is right in front of the player. As a result, there are very few shortcuts at East Lake where a bomber can get an advantage over the field.
The golf course is entirely made up of Bermuda grass. Because of the deep Bermuda rough, hitting the fairway is crucial. Given how small the fairways are on the golf course, this isn't an easy chore. At East Lake, driving accuracy percentages are around 63 percent, slightly lower than the PGA Tour average. However, at East Lake, players hit the green in regulation at a rate of roughly 66 percent, which is around average for the PGA Tour.
There will be some rain early on in the week, which could dampen the green, especially in the first round. However, the weather looks good all four days of play, so players should have no excuses this week.
Patrick Cantlay, who leads the FedExCup standings after his six-hole playoff win over Bryson DeChambeau at the BMW Championship, will enter the week with a two-shot advantage in the third year of modified scoring at the Tour Championship. At eight under par, Tony Finau, the winner of The Northern Trust, the first leg of the FedExCup playoffs, will be second in the order.
Here's how the 30-man field will start the season's last event, with the FedExCup and a $15 million first-place prize up for grabs.
10 under Patrick Cantlay
8 under Tony Finau
7 under Bryson DeChambeau
6 under Jon Rahm
5 under Cameron Smith
4 under Justin Thomas, Harris English, Abraham Ancer, Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns
3 under Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im, Viktor Hovland, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson
2 under Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka
1 under Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama, Stewart Cink, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler,
Even par Daniel Berger, Erik van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed
We run each player in the field through our BeerLife Sports profile analysis to come up with our selections. This is what we are looking for this week:
PGA Is The Way – The PGA Championship has been a good indicator here as three of the last five winners of the TOUR Championship finished as the runner-up at the PGA.
2021 PGA Championship Runners Up
2020 PGA Championship Runners Up
2019 PGA Championship Runner Up
Super Stat – When analyzing the previous five winners of this tournament, one stat stands out and jumps off the page at you, and that is strokes gained tee to green.
Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green
- Jon Rahm
- Collin Morikawa
- Justin Thomas
- Bryson DeChambeau
- Patrick Cantlay
Far Fours – Nine of the 12 par four holes at East Lake average between 400-500 yards, so playing these holes well will be crucial.
Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 Yards
- Abraham Ancer
- Webb Simpson
- Chris Kirk
Par 4 Efficiency 450-500 Yards
- Chris Baker
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Nelson Ledesma
Don’t Drop – The two top players ran away from the rest of the field last week because they didn't drop shots, and we can expect more of the same this week.
- Jon Rahm
- Daniel Berger
- Patrick Cantlay
- Chris Kirk
- Russell Henley
A Fair-Way Ahead – With so many tight fairways, it will be essential to focus on players who can regularly hit the middle of the fairway.
Driving From Center Of Fairway
- Chris Baker
- Jordan Spieth
- Jason Dufner
- Michael Gligic
- K. H. Lee
After looking at the above data and running the field through our Beerlife profile builder, we have selected the following picks.
Must-Have Players – These players may cost a bit more but are sure to be worth it.
|Odds To Win +350|
|Draft Kings $13,000|
|It’s impossible to ignore the world number one right now. He has finished inside the top ten in the last six tournaments he has completed, with three of those finishes third place or better. Last week, he finished a respectable ninth at the BMW Championship, but I watched his round closely and thought he played relatively poorly. To finish ninth in a field of that quality and play poorly is some feat. He finished fourth here last year and is well placed on building on that this year. As his world ranking might suggest, he has the best scoring average this season, which is the result of making more birdies than any other player. It’s hard to find many flaws to his game, as he is the epitome of a complete golfer. If you wanted to be supercritical, his short game in and around the green could sometimes let him down, as it did last week, but in general, it hasn't been a problem this season.|
|Odds To Win +400|
|Draft Kings $13,400|
|Another player that can’t be ignored is Patrick Cantlay, especially as he leads the field before anyone has even teed off. Not only that, he will have taken great confidence from his playoff win of Bryson DeChambeau last week, and it will give him the belief that he can get over the line on the big occasion. I say this because, in his past three TOUR Championships, he has never finished inside the top 20. Granted, he has never led the field, but the win last week could give him the mental strength required to win this tournament. The success was his third on Tour this season after claiming the Zozo Championship and the Memorial more recently. His biggest strength, unlike our other must-have pick, is his game in and around the green. By picking both players, it gives good team coverage. However, you will likely have to choose between them due to their hefty values.|
Steady Eddies – These guys should give a good account of themselves but won’t always break the bank to add them to your line-up.
|Odds To Win +2000|
|Draft Kings $10,700|
|The defending TOUR champion hasn't had the season he hoped for, but he can never be written off. The world number two still won the Masters and has eight top-ten finishes this season. DJ finished the BMW Championship with a 65 and 66 and, therefore, will be looking to bring that momentum into this week's event. Despite his relatively poor season (by his lofty standards), he still has the second-best scoring average on Tour. As he was last week, he has been on the cusp of playing some fantastic golf this season, but he has lacked consistency in critical areas at crucial times. However, he brings arguably the best experience into this event as none of the front runners have won a TOUR championship previously.|
Long Shots – These guys will cost a lot less but still have a decent chance and can undoubtedly make up a team if you're running low on funds.
|Odds To Win +3500|
|Draft Kings $7,600|
|Louis has been one of the most consistent players on Tour this season, without getting over the line. He has eight top-ten finishes, half of those were runner-ups spots, and two were third-placed finishes. Unfortunately, he hasn't been brilliant the past two weeks and sat out of the Northern Trust event recently to recuperate. However, before that, he finished inside the top three in five out of seven tournaments. The slight concern is he doesn't have the best record in the TOUR Championship, but he has plenty of experience to counter that. He has the third-highest average on Tour, and if he can get the driver going this week, he could have a big part to play.|