Driving Series

09/21/2015

It’s Coca-Cola inundation time. Be prepared for the next 6 days to see more of the following:

  • Coca-Cola logos littered throughout both golf course and Golf Channel headquarters
  • $10 million dollar prizes
  • Jordan Spieth VS Jason Day Player of the Year discussion (more on that in another article)

Now at USGolfTV, we think this event should be changed. As outlined in 2013 by Dillon Friday, we think the Tour Championship should conclude with match play for the $10 million:

“The spirit of Seve and Hagen is the spirit of personality. Matchplay allows those personalities to take root. Eventually legacies form.

Right now the FedEx Cup needs a jolt of excitement. Five years on and it’s still all about the money. Most sports fans probably think it’s one of college football’s 456 bowls instead of Golf’s postseason event. We need this matchplay. I want this matchplay.”

Our friends at NoLayingUp agree.

But this is what we have and it’s the top-30 players of the season. Be thankful for what you have, Troy…

We’ve arrived in Atlanta at East Lake for the last important event of the 2015 Tour calendar and the home of the grand prize for the FedEx Cup Standings. It’s been some 10 months (of agonizing) FedEx Cup talk and we’ve finally whittled our way down to the week where it all ends up actually mattering.

The Tour Championship is in its 25th installment of being the “Tour Championship” (it was the Nabisco Championship 1987-1991) and crowning a season-ending champion. The only difference in today’s Tour Championship and the first in 1991, won by Craig Stadler, is the purse (it’s jumped $6.25 million), the golf course (East Lake has been official home since 2004) and the season-long grand prize ($10 million up from $0). I guess a lot has changed.

Hey, as golf fans, we’ll take drama (on the course) any way we can get it– even if its boring. $10 million isn’t that boring, unless your Joe Mauer, cashing $23 million per year and dribbling flairs into the gap. Sorry, enough baseball ranting. Twins fan here.

Screenshot 2015-09-21 12.40.01

FedEx Cup Scenarios

I don’t have the brain power, nor the time, to filter through and give you every scenario for the weekend at East Lake. I know that if Jason Day closes out the season the way he’s been playing, he’ll probably take home the prize. Other than that, the PGA Tour did a nice job laying it out here.

The last 5 FedEx Cup winners have won the Tour Championship.

Field

Here’s the full field.

Course

Essentially downtown Atlanta, East Lake has become one of the Tour’s iconic homes, if not for years of squabbling over land, courses, designs (re-designs) and expansions. But with its gorgeous clubhouse, storied history and challenging layout, East Lake is welcomed grounds for Tour players– maybe it’s the fact that they award guaranteed money to anyone competing.

Bobby Jones is said to have played both his first and last rounds of golf at this historic Donald Ross design. Measuring in at 7,374 yards, the par-72–which will be played as a par-70– boasts a course rating of 75.9 (which means Jason Day’s current handicap of +10 should be good for a bunch of 65s).

A few key holes for the week will be par-3s, holes 6 & 18. Both are challenging and demand precision. Restored by Rees Jones to honor Jones, East Lake has become one of the quintessential classic designs in southern golf.

View the entire course here on PGATour.com.

Screenshot 2015-09-21 12.45.18

News, Notes and Historicals

  • Original clubhouse burned down in 1925
  • Host of the 1963 where Arnold Palmer was a playing captain
  • The Atlanta Athletic Club used to be a neighbor, and their director of the club’s athletic program was John Heisman, the namesake behind the Heisman Trophy.
  • Jodie Mudd won this tourney in 1990– Jodie Mudd…
  • Tiger and Phil have both won this event twice
  • The Payne Stewart Award is presented this week, a cool sub-note on a great week

Driving Series

Last 5 Winners

2014: Billy Horschel (Read more here)

2013: Henrik Stenson (Read more here)

2012: Brandt Snedeker & the “SnedEx Cup”

2011: Bill Haas

Isn’t it crazy that Haas’ heroic shot from the mud was already 4 years ago?

2010: Jim Furyk

How about the “in the rain hat spike” by Furyk being 5 years ago? Feel old yet?

This Week’s Picks

Two from the Fairway (Contenders)

Jason Day 

jason day

The guy can lock up the FedEx Cup with a win (no kidding…ya don’t say?) and he’s the world #1 and he’s the top player in the world, and he’s making birdies like a maniac and he’s…well, enough said. Jason Day has finally reached the potential set for him by people in golf. He’ll let it ride through Sunday and keep that “eyes closed, visualize” pre-shot routine in-tact, all the way to the par-3 18th.

I like Jason to be in contention to the end.

Rory McIlroy

rory mcilroy

Granted he finished many lengths behind Secretariat (above) at the BMW last week, his finish was promising. He battled his putter all weekend and still finished T4. Last year, he was only 3 shots back of young Billy coming down the stretch at the Tour Championship (even nudged Day by a shot in 2014).

There are only so many statistics needed to discuss the world’s top players. Rory has yet to claim a FedEx Cup trophy and he’ll be doing everything he can this week to throw his name into serious consideration.

I think he’ll get to double digits under par, assuming he’ll be correcting the putter.

If he can roll it like he did last year…

One from the Rough (Sleeper)

Steve Stricker (if he was in the field, I’d love to see it)

He’s been top-3 in both Tour Championships the last two seasons…

Paul Casey

paul casey

A season with 7 top-10s earned Casey a spot in this week’s Tour Championship.

His Wyndham week at the end of the regular season seemed like a sign of things to come, but a sloppy (and odd, outlying) 76 at the Barclays was followed by a W/D at the Deutsche Bank (another odd back problem).

His play at the BMW indicates that he’s fine for the Tour Championship. He led the field in proximity to the hole, if only he was able to putt the ball like J.B. Holmes did (gaining almost 2 strokes with the flat stick).

He hasn’t played a Tour Championship since 2010, but his finish there was a strong one– T4. I like Casey to play all four rounds, not quit and post another solid finish. Something in the top-10 this week, his 8th of the season.

The Tour Champ, Champ

Dustin Johnson

dustin johnson

Top-10s in three of his last 4 starts, Johnson has gotta be growing tired of this “The Big Four” talk. Wait until he wins this week, the media will all go running back in his direction. It’s the nature of the game.

Johnson has put up wonderful numbers in 2015, although his blemish at the U.S. Open in June and quirky, uncharacteristic finishes at both the Open and Bridgestone didn’t reflect that. His 62 last week at the BMW was a good enough sign for me to like him as a winner this week.

Right now, it’s Day, Spieth, Fowler and McIlroy, and rightfully so, but Dustin is still potentially more talented than all four of them. I don’t know the formula for “figuring it out” that everyone talks about, but I think a win at the Tour Championship would be a nice start.

Go with DJ this week. He likes being an underdog.

I also think Day and Spieth will go top-10s, but not enough to hold onto the FedEx Cup and the $10 million. Now Dustin, watch who you give that money too, especially if they say they’re “investors.”

Follow me on TWITTER: @troy_usgolftv

Driving Series