Tour Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
WELL this is what it has all been about. The top 30 players in the FedEx Cup Playoff standings head to East Lake for the Tour Championship, with a $10m bonus cheque waiting for Jason Day at the end of it all.
The Australian has had an incredible season and will cap it all on Sunday when he confirms his place at the top of the standings. Just a couple of months ago, who would ever have thought that anybody other Jordan Spieth would be a candidate for player of the year? With his two major wins (The Masters and US Open), second in the US PGA Championship and fourth in The Open, but just one shot behind Zach Johnson, the winner, he looked like a shoo-in.
He will, of course, still be crowned Player of the Year, but Day has given him one heck of a run for his money. He has been knocking at the door for an awfully long time but when he collapsed during the US Open after a vertigo attack, we began to wonder if it would ever happen. Heroically, he managed to finish the tournament and was in contention until the closing holes. He then went to St Andrews and was heartbroken to come up one shy.
Jason Day will look to cap an incredible year with victory in the FedEx Cup finale
But he regrouped, headed off across the Atlantic and stormed to the Canadian Open title. He then went head to head with Spieth in the US PGA, producing some stunning golf to land that elusive major. And so it has continued. He won The Barclays, the first of the playoff events, and then added the BMW Championship to tie things up. When you throw in his victory at the Farmers back in February, it means that he heads to East Lake with five wins under his belt.
The astonishing thing is that none of these wins seem to have taken much out of him, and that is why I expect him to finish the job in style this week with another top three finish.
So who is going to win? Rory McIlroy has lost his world No1 ranking to Day and will be smarting. He hasn't been at his best since returning from injury in August, but there were signs at the BMW that the hunger and form have returned. McIlroy has a lot to prove - he is also in danger of losing the Race to Dubai to Danny Willett, although I will be speechless if he fails to put that right before the end of the year.
McIlroy is my choice for East Lake, and I expect his biggest challenge to come from Bubba Watson, the two-time Masters champion. McIlroy, Day and Watson all have one thing in common - they blast the ball miles. McIlroy and Day usually find the fairway. Day and Watson have sublime putting strokes. Day and McIlroy are probably the two best long-iron players in the world. And they are all sensational from the sand.
So there you have it. How could anybody else possibly contend? I have a horrible feeling that those words may come back to haunt me, but here are my picks for the final week of the regular tour, a week in which there is no 36-hole cut and the prize money resembles telephone numbers or the GDP of a small nation.
Tour Championshp Betting Picks
To win: Rory McIlroy 7/1 If the putter is hot, he will win.
To win: Jason Day 7/2 Can you believe his year?
Each way: Bubba Watson 22/1 Home fans would love to see him win
Tour Championship Fantasy Picks
Rory McIlroy. Needs a win for his own self-belief
Jason Day. Victory would cap a sensational year
Bubba Watson. Hit it and go get it, Bubba
Jordan Spieth. Determined to finish with some fizz
Justin Thomas. Has done everything but win
Zach Johnson. Is there a more consistent player?
Rickie Fowler. Victory would cap a really good year
Dustin Johnson. Wants to finish on a high (that's his golf I am talking about)
JB Holmes. Ferocious competitor
Justin Rose. Another excellent season
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