2022 Tour Championship Preview
IT IS a big week at East Lake. The Tour Championship has seen some dramatic finishes over the years and some of the biggest names in the game of golf picking up the trophy.
And, of course, there is also the small matter of the FedEx Cup and a cheque for $17m for the champion.
There will be those who will wonder how it is possible that Scottie Scheffler, winner of four tournaments including The Masters, could miss out but the three playoff events are performance-loaded and reward the men in form.
And circumstances have worked in Scheffler’s favour. First of all, Cameron Smith withdrew from the BMW Championship before a ball had been struck in anger and then Will Zalatoris pulled out with a back injury during the third round when in first place in the standings and in good shape to extend his advantage.
Zalatoris has now slipped from contention after withdrawing from East Lake due to herniated discs in his back.
There was added pressure on the shoulders of both Rory McIlroy and Scheffler after both men missed the cut at the St Jude.
One of the idiosyncrasies of the Tour Championship is that man with the lowest 72-hole gross score may not win the tournament. In fact, that is highly unlikely to be the case given that Scheffler will start the week on 10 under par.
That is precisely what happened with Patrick Cantlay 12 months ago. And the defending champion put himself in position to win the whole shooting match again with his victory at the BMW. And he is my choice to retain the FedEx Cup. He will start the week two behind Scheffler, which means that he needs to finish the week three shots better than the young American. But he will arrive here full of confidence, and he knows how to get the job done.
Scheffler has had an outstanding season but his best form was early in the year.
Scheffler starts at 10 under par. Cantlay tees off at −8, and so on down to the fifth at -5.
Jon Rahm and Kevin Na had the lowest 72-hole gross scores 12 months ago, meaning they split the combined first- and second-place Official World Golf Ranking points with the win in the 72-hole stroke-play championship.
But it was Cantlay who walked away with the trophy and the dosh, earning a five-year PGA Tour exemption in the process.
For the record, if Cantlay does win this week, he will finish the season with more than $24m in prize money. Who needs LIV Golf?
This is how the full field will start at East Lake:
-10 S Scheffler; -8 P Cantlay; -6 X Schauffele; -5 S Burns; -4 C Smith, R McIlroy, T Finau, S Straka, S Im; -3 J Rahm, S Stallings, J Thomas, C Young, M Fitzpatrick; -2 M Homa, H Matsuyama, J Spieth, J Niemann, V Hovland; -1 C Morikawa, B Horschel, T Hoge, C Conners, B Harman; Lev KH Lee, JT Poston, S Theegala, A Scott, A Wise.
It was won in 2015 by Jordan Spieth, in 2016 and 2019 by Rory McIlroy, in 2017 by Xander Schauffele, in 2018 by Tiger Woods, in 2020 by Dustin Johnson and last year by Patrick Cantlay.
East Lake opened in 1908 and was first redesigned by Donald Ross in 1913. Further renovations followed before Rees Jones created the layout we know today back in 2008. The Tour Championship was first played here in 1998. The course is a par 72 measuring 7,346 yards. As the name implies, it features plenty of water hazards. Zach Johnson set the course record of 60 in 2007.
Patrick Cantlay has been there, done that. His victory at the BMW Championship puts him in prime position to retain the FedEx Cup and bank a fortune - and he is the man to back at 4/1 on Betway.
Patrick Cantlay. The man to beat (4/1)
Scottie Scheffler. Player of the year (5/2)
Xander Schauffele. Back to his very best this season (15/2)
Five to Follow:
Patrick Cantlay. Full of confidence (4/1)
Scottie Scheffler. Will a two-shot advantage be enough? (5/2)
Xander Schauffele. Sheer class (15/2)
Rory McIlroy. Has a point to prove (11/1)
Sam Burns. What a year he has had (20/1)
The 2022 Tour Championship Preview has been written in collaboration with Betway
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