Tour Championship: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia
The culmination of the FedEx Championship begins this Thursday as the Tour Championship kicks off at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia. A relatively long course at almost 7400 yards for a Par 70, East Lake was originally designed by Tom Bendelow and then completely redesigned by Donald Ross in 1913.
The course is famous for its unforgiving rough which will require players to hit the fairways accurately, something that is not the easiest of tasks and tests all aspects of the game.
The weather forecast for the Championship weekend is slightly mixed with some rain expected for the first two days which could help soften up the course and allow players to be a bit more aggressive. The last two days are, however, currently forecast to be dry.
Only 30 players will play this no cut final event with $10 million dollars up for grabs. The current top-5 in the FedEx Cup standings will win the Championship if they win this event no matter what happens behind them but after that, some complicated maths starts to come into play for players to come from behind and leapfrog the leaders.
A lot of attention will be on Marc Leishman who played an absolute blinder last weekend to lead from the first day and then never let it go. He sits 4th in the standings right now. Rickie Fowler is also just outside the top-5 at 6th and in excellent form himself.
Previous champions of this tournament include Henrik Stenson in 2013, Billy Horschel in 2014, Jordan Spieth in 2015 and Rory McIlroy in 2016.
Stats That Matter
Players that hit the fairways consistently and then negotiate the bermuda greens best will the ones that come up trump according to the Wolf. Playing aggressively and making birdies on the Par-4’s will also be key.
The three stats that the Wolf is looking out for are:
– Ball Striking
– Strokes Gained: Putting
– Par 4 Scoring
Rory McIlroy won last year by scoring a 12 under par 268, Jordan Spieth shot 271 to win in 2015, Billy Horschel shot 269 in 2014 and Henrik Stenson shot 267 in 2013. Tiger Woods shot a 23 under Par 257 back in 2007 and ended up winning by 8 strokes.
Choosing a winner in a tight field of 30 should theoretically be easier, however, the quality of the field is such that any number of players could win. There is a case to be made for sticking within the top-5 golfers in the FedEx Championship since they have the most incentive to win but the odds are just not attractive enough to do that.
The Wolf recommends Rickie Fowler at $9.00 for the favorite ahead of the red-hot Jordan Spieth. Fowler was T2 at the BMW Championship last week and played fantastic. He is in with a good shot of winning the $10 million dollars and would get a chance to upstage his close rivals as well. The Wolf thinks that some pretty strong motivation right there. His course history is pretty solid with a 12th place finish here last year and 8th the year before that. Statistically, Fowler is dominating all the categories with a 2nd in strokes gained putting, 9th in ball striking, and 7th in Par 4 scoring.
For the value pick, the Wolf recommends you jump on the Marc Leishman bandwagon at $19.00. He played out of skin last week and there is no reason he could not do it again at East Lake. He has the stats backing his claim with a 7th in Par 4 scoring, 35th in strokes gained putting and 47th in ball striking. Current form is a huge factor in events like these and Leishman should be feeling on top of the world right now. His win last week was preceded by a T3 at the Dell Technologies Open. He may not have the same course experience as the other contenders but that is something the Wolf believes Leishman can overcome.
Now for the outside shot. It really is worth taking a long shot in this tournament since every single player is quality and could win this tournament on their day. This week, it is Kevin Chappell at $41.00 who has caught the Wolf’s attention. Chappell played brilliantly to finish T12 last week at the BMW Championship and also recorded a T6 at the Northern Trust just a few weeks back so there is no doubting his form. The Wolf believes that current form is enough to overlook that at the price he is being offered. There is a history of some lesser fancied players winning this tournament like Billy Horschel did in 2014 and Kevin Chappell came damn near himself last year, losing in a playoff to Rory. A punt on him is well worth the risk.
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