PGA Tour Picks: Tour Championship

By Tom LaMarre

It’s a whole new ball game in the Tour Championship this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

The PGA Tour has implemented a format that erases all of the points the 30 players who qualified the final event of the FedEx Cup playoffs have amassed in the season that began last October in the Safeway Open at Silverado Resort in Napa.

Instead, Justin Thomas will start the tournament with the lead at 10-under-par after taking the top spot in the point standings by winning the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, with No. 2 Patrick Cantlay at 8-under, followed by No. 3 Brooks Koepka at 7-under, No. 4 Patrick Reed at 6-under and No. 5 Rory McIlroy at 5-under.

“It’s going to be weird,” said Thomas, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion, who finished second in the finale two years ago but isn’t exactly sure how to deal with a lead before the tournament starts. “I’m going to go try to win the golf tournament. … It definitely beats the position I was in at the beginning of this week.

“I can certainly say a thousand percent I never slept on a Wednesday lead, but I’m definitely excited for that and I’m just going to try to win the golf tournament as if everybody starts at zero.

“I’m going to try not to look at the leaderboards for the first couple days and just try to shoot as low as I can.”

Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson and Abraham Ancer, Nos. 6 through 10, will start at 4-under, with Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama, Nos. 11 through 15, are 3-under before the tournament starts.

Paul Casey, defending FedEx Cup champ Justin Rose, 2012 FedEx Cup winner Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler and Kevin Kisner, Nos. 16-20, are at 2-under, while Nos. 21-25, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Sungjae Im and Chez Reavie will start at 1-under.

Rounding out the field at even-par are Nos. 26-30, Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover and Jason Kokrak.

Tiger Woods, the only two time FedEx Cup champion (2007, 2009) won’t be at East Lake to defend his title because he finished No. 42 in the point standings despite winning the Masters in April, and Shane Lowry (No. 33) barely missed despite winning the Open Championship at Royal Portrush last month.

Also on the outside looking in were former FedEx Cup champions Jordan Spieth (2015) in 44th, Billy Horschel (2014) at 43rd and Jim Furyk (2010) at No. 51.

Other top players missing the finale are several who have been FedEx contenders in the past, including Phil Mickelson (No. 47), Jason Day (No. 54), Francesco Molinari (No. 40) and Ian Poulter (No. 41).

Clearly, it’s a new day at East Lake.


  1. Justin Thomas, United StatesThe 2017 FedEx Cup champion claimed his 10th PGA Tour victory and second in the playoffs last week in the BMW Championship, the other coming in the Dell Technologies Championship two years ago. Thomas is playing in the Tour Championship for the fourth time, having finished in the top 10 each time.
  2. Brooks Koepka, United States – Despite winning four majors in the last three seasons, Koepka has never won in the playoffs. He held the FedEx points lead after the regular season, but couldn’t crack the top 20 in either of the first two post-season events. Koepka’s best results in three starts in the Tour Championship was sixth two years ago.
  3. Patrick Cantlay, United States – Tied for 12th in The Northern Trust and finished second in the BMW Championship, the first two events of the playoffs, to put himself in prime position heading to the finale East Lake. Cantlay has made two starts in the Tour Championship, recording a tie for 20th two years ago and tying for 21st last year.
  4. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland – The 2016 FedEx Cup champion dominated the playoffs that year by winning the Dell Technologies and the Tour Championship, the last two of his four playoff victories. McIlroy, who tied for sixth and tied for 16th in the first two playoff events, tied for second at East Lake in 2014 and tied for seventh last year.
  5. Jon Rahm Spain – Solidified his spot in the standings by recording a tie for third in The Northern Trust and tying for fifth in the BMW Championship, giving him three top-10 finishes in his last four starts. The fifth was a tie for 11th in the Open Championship. Tied for seventh two years ago and tied for 11th last season in the Tour Championship.
  6. Patrick Reed, United States – After claiming his second playoff victory in The Northern Trust to open this post-season, Reed tied for 19th in the BMW Championship last week to turn around what had been a disappointing season. His best result in five starts in at East Lake was a tie for 13th two years ago, and he also tied for 19th in 2014.
  7. Xander Schauffele, United States – Schauffele’s only playoff victory came in the Tour Championship two years ago in his first appearance, and he came back with a tie for seventh last year. In this year’s playoffs, he missed the cut in the Northern Trust but bounced back with a tie for 19th in the BMW Championship to stay in a solid position.
  8. Dustin Johnson, United States – It’s been a disappointing playoff season for DJ, who has four post-season wins in his career, as he tied for 24th in The Northern Trust and tied for 57th in the BMW. Johnson has five top-10 finishes the Tour Championship, the best a tie for third last year, but he blew a Sunday lead with a 73 in 2016 and tied for sixth.
  9. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan – Played himself into a strong position heading to the Tour Championship by finishing alone in third place at the BMW Championship when he closed with his second 63 of the week. Matsuyama recorded his best result at East Lake by closing with a 65 to tie for fourth last year, and also tied for fifth three years ago.
  10. Justin Rose, England – The defending FedEx Cup champion still has an outside chance to repeat with a strong finish at East Lake, where he nailed down the title with a tie for fourth last year, his sixth straight top-10 finish in the Tour Championship. Rose tied for 10th in The Northern Trust, but could only tie for 52nd in BMW Championship.

OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH – Adam Scott, Australia; Matt Kuchar, United States; Abraham Ancer, Mexico; Webb Simpson, United States; Gary Woodland, United States.


  1. Sungjae Im, South Korea – Still flies under the radar despite seven top-10 finishes this season. Tied for 11th in the BMW Championship and is making his debut at East Lake.
  2. Chez Reavie, United States – Returns to Tour Championship for the first time since 2011 with a win in Travelers and a T-3 in U.S. Open. T-26 at East Lake eight years ago.
  3. Corey Conners, Canada – Making his first appearance in the Tour Championship after winning Texas Open, tying for 21st in Northern Trust and tying for seventh in the BMW.
  4. Charles Howell III, United States – Last played in Tour Championship when he had T6 in 2011. Also was second in 2002 and 2003. Won RSM Classic among five top-10s.
  5. Jason Kokrak, United States Anchorman at No. 30 makes East Lake debut after sneaking in with a T-12 in the Northern Trust and a T-19 in the BMW Championship.

For first-round tee times visit

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