Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Mulligan: The Tour Championship

We are down to the Final 30 as the Tour Championship is upon us. This week the Tour’s Top 30 players (based on FedEx Cup points) head to Atlanta, Georgia and East Lake Golf Club. The Par 70, 7,154 yard course was the home course of legendary Bobby Jones before recently being named the permanent home course of the Tour Championship. Let’s take a look at the 30 players who made the final cut and now seek the Championship. Next to each players name you will find the total amount of FedEx Cup points each player has.

Tiger Woods 2500
Steve Stricker 2250
Jim Furyk 2000
Zach Johnson 1800
Heath Slocum 1600
Padraig Harrington 1400
Sean O’Hair 1200
Scott Verplank 1000
Kenny Perry 800
Jason Dufner 00
Dustin Johnson 480
Nick Watney 460
Geoff Ogilvy 440
Phil Mickelson 420
Retief Goosen 400
Marc Leishman 380
Brian Gay 360
Kevin Na 340
David Toms 320
Lucas Glover 310
Y.E. Yang 300
Ernie Els 290
Hunter Mahan 280
Angel Cabrera 270
Steve Marino 260
Stewart Cink 250
Mike Weir 240
Luke Donald 230
Jerry Kelly 220
John Senden 210

All of the numbers involved in this scoring system bring up a common question. How does the scoring work for The Tour Championship? It is actually pretty straightforward. You simply take the point total of the players to this point in the season after the reset and add this total to the number of points earned this week at the championship. In other words, you take the number listed next to the player’s name above, and add that number to the amount of points earned this week, as listed below.

If you finish... Then you get...

1st 2,500 points

2nd 1,500 points

3rd 950 points

4th 675 points

5th 550 points

6th 500 points

7th 450 points

8th 425 points

9th 400 points
10th 375 points

11th 350 points

12th 325 points

13th 300 points

14th 285 points

15th 280 points

16th 275 points

17th 270 points

18th 265 points

19th 260 points

20th 255 points

21st 250 points

22nd 245 points

23rd 240 points

24th 235 points

25th 230 points

26th 225 points

27th 220 points

28th 215 points

29th 210 points

30th 205 points

This point structure results in some players controlling their own destiny while others need help. Basically, if Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson or Heath Slocum win this week, that player will be the Champion. These 5 players are the only players controlling their own destiny this week. Anyone else must have help in the form of Tiger Woods and the rest of the top seeds playing poorly. Obviously, the odds of winning decrease as you move down the rankings. If you want to check out the exact scenario’s of what must happen for your favorite player to win, click here.

Obviously the Top 5 players have a distinct advantage in terms of winning it all this week. Others are looking to challenge and move up the rankings even if it is highly unlikely for them to take home the main prize. Here are a few players that I expect to play well this week at East Lake.

Jim Furyk finished 2nd place two weeks ago at the BMW after a 5 under final round. He looked very sharp coming down the stretch with a 67 in round 3 and a 66 in round 4. and I think he is firing on all cylinders right now. He finished T-15 at the Barclays and T8 at the Deutsche Bank so his past three showings are impressive. Furyk ranks 3rd on Tour in scoring average, 17th in driving accuracy percentage and 20th in putting average. A well-rounded game and momentum make him a favorite this week.

Dustin Johnson has put on a good showing for his last four starts. Going way back to Early August at the WGC Bridgestone, Johnson finished T-22. He followed that up with a T-10 at the PGA, a T-15 at the Barclays a T-4 at the Deutsche Bank, and a T30 at the BMW. Johnson is a long hitter, ranking 3rd in driving distance on tour. He is also ranked 12th is putting average and 9th in eagles per hole. I like his chances this week to continue his hot streak.

Steve Stricker shot a 77 on Sunday at the BMW to finish T-53, but I still expect him to play well this week. Prior to this performance, he was the hottest player on Tour, finishing T-2 at the Barclays and winning the Deutsche Bank. I think the BMW was the result of an off day rather than anything that should raise a red flag. Stricker is still feeling it and he should play well again this week.

Padraig Harrington’s new swing looks better every day. Don’t take my word for it, look at his tournament performance. In his first 14 starts, Harrington failed to finish in the Top-10. In his last 5 starts, Harrington has finished in the Top-10 every time including two second place finishes. I expect his recent success to continue this week in Atlanta.

I hope you all have the opportunity to watch this weekend as the playoff season comes to an end. It should be an exciting week in golf.

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