The FedEx Tour Championship – Fantasy Golf Preview
After the longest PGA tour season ever due to the new wrap-around calendar, we come to the final event of the Fedex Cup Playoffs. The tour championships feature the top 29 players in the standings (Dustin Johnson finished 30th, but is having time out from the tour), a good mix of players who have performed all season and players who have hit a hot streak in the last three weeks.
Many of the big names in golf are here this week, including Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia. Morgan Hoffman is perhaps the most surprising player in the field, starting the Fedex Cup in 124th place (of 125) and breaking the bubble each and every tournament. Big name players who are missing out this year are the previous two Fedex Cup champions in Henrik Stenson and Brandt Snedeker, US Ryder Cup players Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley and of course Tiger Woods, still recovering from his back operation.
The East Lake golf club is located in Atlanta, Georgia. The course has a par of 72 and is 7,374 yards long, however the par becomes 70 when the Tour Championship hits town. Zach Johnson holds the course record with a magnificent 60 in 2007.
Over the years the Tour Championship has been for the top thirty players in the money list and played in November. This changed in 2007 when the Fedex Cup began, the tournament now featuring the top 30 in the Fedex Standings and a move to an earlier date in September. In recent years, both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won the tournament twice, as well as Jim Furyk, Adam Scott and Vijay Singh. Last year Henrik Stenson capped a fine season with a three shot victory over Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth. In 2012, Brandt Snedeker won the tournament with a three shot victory over Justin Rose.
Eight Picks and Sleepers
With such a small field this week, it’s difficult to make a differentiation between solid picks and sleepers, as there isn’t really a poor player in the field. This week I’ll pick eight players I feel will represent value and let’s hope we all have a great finish to the season, until it all starts again just four weeks from now!
Chris Kirk – Kirk is at the head of the standings is one of five players who will be assured of winning the Fedex Cup with a victory here this week. Kirk can perhaps consider himself unlucky not to be playing at Gleneagles in the Ryder Cup this year, having won the Deutsche Bank Championship and only missed two cuts all year. He will head to East Lake full of confidence with a career high world ranking of 24.
Billy Horschel – Horschel is another player whose fate is in his own hands. If Tom Watson had made his wildcard picks just a week later it would be difficult to ignore Billy Horschel. With a second place at the Deutsche Bank Championship and a solid victory in the BMW championship, this player has lit up the Fedex Cup. Horschel finished 7th at East Lake last year
Bubba Watson – Watson will be disappointed with his play since his brilliant win at the Masters this year. He put that right with a second place finish at the BMW championship last week and will look to claim his first Fedex Cup, with his fate in his own hands this week. He finished 5th at East Lake in 2012, not appearing last year.
Rickie Fowler – A year ago I had Rickie Fowler tagged as a solid tour player who might win occasionally. He has changed my mind completely and become one of the top players in the world, capable of winning any tournament. Frustratingly for Fowler, he hasn’t managed that win, but this will surely come as he seems to be in the mix almost every Sunday. Finished 4th last week.
Martin Kaymer – Having tipped Kaymer last week, I saw nothing last week to dissuade mefrom picking him again with a 16th place finish. Kaymer is one of the four European Ryder Cup players in the field (McIlroy, Rose and Garcia being the others) and is looking for a Players Championship, US Open and Tour Championship treble.
Russell Henley – Henley secured his place at the event with his second place at the Deutsche Bank championship and sits at 20th in the Fedex Standings. Henley has won on the tour in both 2013 and 2014, although can be a little up and down, with eleven missed cuts this year. Henley is capable of finishing both 1 st and 29th this week – a good pick for the gambler.
Morgan Hoffmann – The story of the Fedex Cup, Hoffmann is having the month of his golfing life. Having picked him in the last two weeks, I’ll stick with him despite him not being so ‘under theradar’ any more. Needing a third place finish to qualify for the East Lake, his opening two rounds of 72 at the BMW Championship made this feat look impossible. The low round of the week 62 on Saturday gave him an outside chance, although he needed another great round to make it. How about a 63? Who said ‘Clutch’?
Jimmy Walker – Walker led the Fedex Cup standings for most of the season until Rory McIlroy won three straight, and in some ways is the forgotten man in the Fedex Cup. It has to be said since his three victories in the early part of the season, Walker hasn’t quite been the same player since, however his form has seen an upturn in recent weeks. He has had two top ten finishes in his last four outings and finished 20th last week.
Rory McIlroy is the favorite this week, despite his two infamous four putts last week. Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk sit behind him at the sportsbooks, with Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer leading the pack.