PGA TOUR Championship Preview

2018 TOUR Championship

 Dates: September 19-23, 2018
Where: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.
Par/Yards: 35-35–70/7,385 yards
Field: Top 30 in the FedExCup standings
2017 champion: Xander Schauffele
Purse: $9,000,000/$1,620,000 (winner)
FedExCup: 2,000 FedExCup points to the winner
Format: 72-hole stroke-play
Twitter name: @playofffinale
Facebook: www.facebook/TheTOURChampionship

 

FedExCup and the TOUR Championship

  • The TOUR Championship is the last of four events of the FedExCup Playoffs and the finale to the PGA TOUR season for the 12th consecutive season since the FedExCup Playoffs were introduced in
  • The top-125 players on the final PGA TOUR Regular Season FedExCup points list (following the Wyndham Championship) qualified for THE NORTHERN TRUST (won by Bryson DeChambeau).
  • The top-100 players on the FedExCup points list following THE NORTHERN TRUST qualified for the Dell Technologies Championship (won by Bryson DeChambeau).
  • The top-70 players on the FedExCup points list after the Dell Technologies Championship advanced to the BMW Championship, contested at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pa. (won by Keegan Bradley)
  • The top-30 players following the BMW Championship qualified for the TOUR Championship. Prior to the start of the TOUR Championship, a “points reset” will take place, giving all players in the field a mathematical opportunity to win the FedExCup title. The top-five players are in the most advantageous position and would claim the FedExCup with a victory at East

 

A look at the 2017 TOUR Championship

Xander Schauffele, who entered ranked No. 26 in the FedExCup standings, shot a final-round 2-under 68 to come from behind and claim his second PGA TOUR victory at just 23 years, 10 months, 30 days. With the win, Schauffele became the first PGA TOUR rookie to win the TOUR Championship and to win a FedExCup Playoffs event. The win was Schauffele’s second of the season, having captured A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier earlier in the year. Schauffele was named the PGA TOUR’s Rookie of the Year shortly following the TOUR Championship.

Justin Thomas, who entered the week ranked No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, started Sunday’s final round five strokes back of leader Paul Casey, but fired a 4-under 66 – marked by five birdies and one bogey – to finish his round tied with Xander

Schauffele for the TOUR Championship lead. Thomas’ FedExCup fate was determined by Schauffele’s score on the 18th hole. After Schauffele made birdie on the final hole to win the TOUR Championship, Thomas solidified his title as 2017 FedExCup champion.

 

East Lake Golf Club

Established in 1904, East Lake is the oldest golf course in the city of Atlanta. East Lake was the home course of World Golf Hall of Fame member Bobby Jones, and much of its clubhouse serves as a tribute to his accomplishments. Since 2004, East Lake has been the home of the TOUR Championship, the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs. The TOUR Championship was first played at the course in 1998. In 2016, the front and back nine holes at East Lake were reversed for the TOUR Championship, providing significantly more drama on the finishing holes from past years. The final five holes, in particular, have more potential for lead changes and provide more risk-reward opportunities, with the 18th hole a challenging but gettable par 5 rather than a long par 3.

 

2018 FedExCup Notes

The top five in the FedExCup standings entering the TOUR Championship are in the most advantageous position and will win the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake GC.

Top 5 in the FedExCup

RankPlayerWinsTop-10sEvents
1Bryson DeChambeau3925
2Justin Rose21017
3Tony Finau01127
4Dustin Johnson31119
5Justin Thomas3922

 

Bryson DeChambeau – No. 1 (2,000 points)          

  • If he wins the TOUR Championship, he wins the FedExCup
  • Has a reasonable chance of winning with a top-6 finish
  • Can finish as low as 29th and still have a mathematical chance of winning                                                                                                                                                                                         

Thanks to three victories this season (the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, THE NORTHERN TRUST, Dell Technologies Championship), Bryson DeChambeau enters the TOUR Championship at the top of the FedExCup standings.

DeChambeau is joined by Dustin Johnson (4), Justin Thomas (5) and Bubba Watson (8), as one of four players to capture three victories this season.

DeChambeau closed with a 4-under 68 to finish second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, three strokes behind Rory McIlroy. The solo runner-up finish represented his second in 56 starts on the PGA TOUR and moved him inside the top 20 in FedExCup standings for the first time this season.

In his second start at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, DeChambeau made birdie on the second playoff hole (No. 18) of sudden death to defeat Kyle Stanley and Byeong Hun An for his second career victory in his 62nd career start.

The victory pushed him inside the top 10 in the FedExCup standings. At 24 years, 8 months, 18 days, Dechambeau became the fourth youngest winner in the Memorial Tournament history behind Hideki Matsuyama’s 2014 win and Tiger Woods’ 1999 and 2000.

DeChambeau won the first two FedExCup Playoffs events (THE NORTHERN TRUST and Dell Technologies Championship) to become the sixth player to win back-to-back FedExCup Playoffs events (Billy Horschel, 2014) and joined Vijay Singh (2008) as the only players to win the first two Playoffs events.

His two-shot win at the Dell Technologies Championship extended his lead in the FedExCup standings over Dustin Johnson and marked his fourth PGA TOUR win in his 70th career start, the fewest by any player to get four wins since Rory McIlroy (50th start).

DeChambeau has recorded top-10 finishes in 9 of 25 starts this season, five of which were top-3 finishes. This is DeChambeau’s first trip to the TOUR Championship after finishing 49th in the standings last season.

 

YearFinal RankBegan PlayoffsTNT            Dell TechBMW ChampTOUR Champ
20174940CUT (48) T30 (44)T33 (49)
201891 (1)            1 (1)T19 (1)

 

Justin Rose – No. 2 (1,800 points)

  • If he wins the TOUR Championship, he wins the FedExCup
  • Has a reasonable chance of winning with a top-3 finish
  • Can finish as low as 9th and still have a mathematical chance of winning

 

Justin Rose’s 2017-18 season started off on a winning note when he claimed his second career World Golf Championships title at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Rose came from eight shots back on the final day to win with a closing 67, shooting an inward 31 to beat overnight leaders Dustin Johnson by two shots. The eight-stroke come-from-behind victory was better than any previous comeback in Rose’s career.

Paired with eventual-winner Rory McIlroy, Rose closed with a bogey-free 67 to finish alone in third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, where he led the field in birdies (24) and returned to the top 10 in the standings.

Rose’s three-stroke win over Brooks Kopeka at the Fort Worth Invitational marked his second win of the season. The victory moved him to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, matching the highest previous position of his career (spent one week at No. 2 following his win at The National in 2010).

Rose entered the FedExCup Playoffs fourth in the standings and reclaimed his position in the top five with a solo-second result at the Dell Technologies Championship one week after missing the cut at THE NORTHERN TRUST. He followed it up with another runner-up finish after a sudden-death playoff with Keegan Bradley at the BMW Championship. The second-place  finish was his ninth top-10 of the season and moved him to No. 2 in the FedExCup standings and No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time of his career.

 

YearFinal RankBegan Playoffs RkTNTDell TechBMWTOUR Champ
20071621T14 (22)CUT (23)T5 (16)T11 (16)
200811476
20098591T41 (80)T54 (85)
2010155T15 (4)CUT (10)T21 (13)T15 (15)
2011543T6 (27)T68 (34)1 (3)T20 (5)
2012612T46 (15)CUT (22)T16 (24)2 (6)
2013107T2 (5)T16 (7)T33 (9)6 (10)
20141117T30 (20)35 (26)T4 (11)
201585T16 (8)CUT (13)T13 (12)T2 (8)
20165147T31 (45)T57 (50)T24 (51)
2017930T10 (24)T10 (17)T2 (8)T10 (9)
20184CUT (6)2 (3)2 (2)

 

Tony Finau– No. 3 (1,520 points)

  • If he wins the TOUR Championship, he wins the FedExCup
  • Has a reasonable chance of winning with a T-2 place finish
  • Can finish as low as a 2-way tie for 3rd and still have a mathematical chance of winning

The only player in the top-five of the FedExCup standings without a win, Tony Finau collected 11 top-10 finishes, tied with Dustin Johnson for the most this season, on his way to a breakout year. Finau started the season with two runner-up finishes in his first three starts. He placed second to Brendan Steele in the season-opening Safeway Open and captured the runner-up result with a T2 at the Genesis Open, where he held a share of the 18-hole lead.

After suffering a high-ankle sprain while celebrating a hole-in-one during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest, Finau finished T10 in his Masters debut. His six-consecutive birdies on holes 12-17 in a final-round 66 were one shy of the most in tournament history (7 – Steve Pate/1999, Tiger Woods/2005).

Finau began the third round of the U.S. Open 11 strokes behind then-leader Dustin Johnson and shot a third-round 4-under 66. He entered the final round tied for the lead and posted a 72 to finish

At the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, Finau finished T9 to collect his third consecutive top-10 finish in a major championship and ranked second for the week in greens hit (54 of 72).

During THE NORTHERN TRUST, Finau added his third runner-up finish of the season to propel him from No. 12 to No. 4 in the FedExCup standings. The second place finish was his first top-five result in the FedExCup Playoffs. Finau led the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (12.562) and Around-the-Green (+7.800) at The Ridgewood Country Club.

Finau maintained his position inside the top five with a T4 at the Dell Technologies Championship and a T8 at the BMW Championship last week. This is his second consecutive appearance at the TOUR Championship, with a T7 finish last year to end his season No. 19 in the FedExCup standings.

 

YearFinal RankBegan PlayoffsTNTDell TechBMW ChampTOUR Champ
20154339T16 (32)CUT (41)T47 (43)
2016454512 (37)T24 (38)T66 (45)
20171926T54 (35)T65 (39)T7 (24)T7 (19)
2018122 (4)T4 (4)T8 (3)

 

Dustin Johnson – No. 4 (1,296 points)        

  • If he wins the TOUR Championship, he wins the FedExCup
  • Has a reasonable chance of winning with a 2nd place finish
  • Can finish as low as a 3-way tie for 2nd and still have a mathematical chance of winning

A 19-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Dustin Johnson extended his streak of winning at least once a year to 11 straight—the current PGA TOUR record—thanks to three victories this season. After a T2 finish at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions to begin the season, Johnson captured the Sentry Tournament of Champions for his second win at Kapalua.

Johnson added four more top-10 finishes (T2/AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, T7/WGC-Mexico Championship, T10/Masters Tournament, T8/the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide) before collecting his second victory of the season at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in dominant fashion. Johnson holed his approach shot from 169 yards at the 72nd hole to win by six strokes. The win at TPC Southwind saw the return of Johnson to the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

The following week Johnson collected solo third at the U.S. Open to return to the top spot in the FedExCup standings, a position he held for five weeks.

By winning the RBC Canadian Open by three strokes over Whee Kim and Byeong Hun An, Johnson earned his 19th PGA TOUR victory and third of the season. He became the first player since Tiger Woods (2005-09) with at least three wins in three consecutive seasons.

Starting the FedExCup Playoffs in the No. 1 position, Johnson finished T11 at THE NORTHERN TRUST to move back to No. 2. The following week, Johnson recorded a T7 finish at the Dell Technologies Championship to maintain the No. 2 spot in the standings. A T24 finish at the BMW Championship moved Johnson back to the No. 4 position in the overall

Johnson is making his 10th consecutive appearance at the TOUR Championship, with his best finish at East Lake a solo-fifth in 2013. He entered the 2017 TOUR Championship in the No. 4 position in the FedExCup standings and finished T17 at East Lake to end his season No. 4 in the standings.

 

YearFinal RankBegan Playoffs RkTNTDell TechBMWTOUR Champ
2008134117CUT (134)
20091415T15 (20)T4 (10)T20 (11)27 (14)
2010511T9 (6)T57 (16)1 (2)T22 (5)
20114191 (1)T42 (2)T65 (2)T23 (4)
2012826T3 (8)T4 (6)T6 (7)T10 (8)
20131316CUT (22)T27 (23)T62 (30)5 (13)
2014306DNP (14)DNP (22)DNP (30)DNP (30)
201577T9 (6)T44 (8)T7 (7)T5 (7)
20162218 (3)T8 (3)1 (1)T6 (3)
2017441 (1)T18 (3)T33 (3)T17 (4)
20181T11 (2)T7 (2)T24 (4)

 

Justin Thomas – No. 5 (1,280 points)      

  • If he wins the TOUR Championship, he wins the FedExCup
  • Can finish as low as a 2-way tie for 2nd and still have a mathematical chance of winning
  • Has a reasonable chance of winning with a 2nd place finish 

Justin Thomas collected his first win in his second start of the season at the inaugural CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES. In the first playoff of his career, Thomas defeated Marc Leishman on the second extra hole. The win moved Thomas to No. 3 in the FedExCup standings.

Thomas went on to capture his second win of the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season at The Honda Classic in a playoff over Luke List. Thomas defeated List, the 54-hole leader, with a birdie-4 on the first extra hole. The victory helped Thomas reclaim the No. 1 spot in the FedExCup standings, which he held for eight weeks and secure his second-consecutive multiple win season.

In back-to-back starts, Thomas finished second in the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship to Phil Mickelson and fourth in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Thomas converted a three-stroke lead after 54 holes into a four-stroke win at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational for his first World Golf Championships event title and third win of the season. The victory marked his ninth career PGA TOUR win and became the fifth player and youngest of the five to win the FedExCup, a major championship and a World Golf Championships event (Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Vijay Singh, Tiger Woods).

Thomas entered the FedExCup Playoffs second in the standings, he retained his position in the top five of the FedExCup standings with T8 result at THE NORTHERN TRUST and followed that up with a T24 finish at the Dell Technologies Championship, which moved him to No. 5 in the standings. His T12 finish at the BMW Championship was good enough to remain in the top five.

Thomas is making his third consecutive appearance at the TOUR Championship, with his best finish at East Lake a solo- second in 2017 when he captured the FedExCup title.

 

YearFinal RankBegan PlayoffsTNTDell TechBMW ChampTOUR Champ
20153236T16 (30)T56 (35)T13 (32)
20161210T10 (8)CUT (14)T32 (12)T6 (12)
201712T6 (3)1 (2)T47 (2)2 (1)
20182T8 (3)T24 (5)T12 (5)

 

FedExCup Champions

2007 – Tiger Woods

2008 – Vijay Singh

2009 – Tiger Woods

2010 – Jim Furyk

2011 – Bill Haas

2012 – Brandt Snedeker

2013 – Henrik Stenson

2014 – Billy Horschel

2015 – Jordan Spieth

2016 – Rory McIlroy

2017 – Justin Thomas

 

TOUR Championship and FedExCup Notes

Here is a year-by-year look at FedExCup champions and their performance throughout the FedExCup Playoffs in the years they won:

 

FedExCup ChampionTHE NORTHERN TRUSTDell Technologies ChampionshipBMW ChampionshipTOUR Championship
2017 Justin ThomasT6WonT472nd
2016 Rory McIlroyT31WonT42Won
2015 Jordan SpiethCUTCUTT13Won
2014 Billy HorschelCUTT2WonWon
2013 Henrik StensonT431T33Won
2012 Brandt Snedeker2nd6thT37Won
2011 Bill HaasT24T61T16Won
2010 Jim FurykDNPT37T15Won
2009 Tiger WoodsT2T11Won2nd
2008 Vijay SinghWonWonT44T22
2007 Tiger WoodsN/AT2WonWon

 

There are four past FedExCup champions (Tiger Woods, Billy Horschel, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas) at East Lake this year. Thomas has the opportunity to become the first back-to-back winner of the FedExCup. Thomas, McIlroy and Horschel can join Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) as the only two-time winners of the FedExCup.

Cameron Smith, at No. 51 heading into the FedExCup Playoffs, came from the furthest in the standings to reach the TOUR Championship this year with Playoffs finishes of T3, 3 and T65, respectively, to reach the season-ending event.

 

Players who moved inside the top 30 at the BMW Championship

In the 12-year history of the FedExCup, 34 players have played their way into the TOUR Championship via the BMW Championship, with two performing the feat this year:

PlayerFEC before BMWBMWFEC current
Keegan Bradley52Won6
Xander Schauffele41T318

 

 

Rookies in the FedExCup Playoffs

Eight rookies finished the 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season ranked within the top 125 in FedExCup standings and earned their first start at THE NORTHERN TRUST. Of that group, four advanced to last week’s BMW Championship, with only Aaron Wise moving on to the TOUR Championship:

PlayerFEC priorBMWFedExCup current
Aaron Wise27T1621
Austin Cook31T2938/eliminated at BMW
Keith Mitchell68T4567/eliminated at BMW
Peter Uihlein81T3864/eliminated at BMW
Satoshi Kodaira77Eliminated at Dell Eliminated at TNT Eliminated at TNT Eliminated at TNT
Tyler Duncan108
Brandon Harkins94
Sam Ryder114

 

Rookies to qualify for the TOUR Championship since the inception of the FedExCup in 2007:

YearPlayerFEC Finish
2018Aaron WiseTBD
2017Xander Schauffele3rd
2017Patrick Cantlay29th

 

2016Emiliano Grillo11th
2016Si Woo Kim17th
2015Daniel Berger11th
2013Jordan Spieth7th
2012John Huh29th
2011Keegan Bradley20th
2009Marc Leishman20th
2008Andres Romero28th
2007Brandt Snedeker20th

 

First-timers at the TOUR Championship

There are six players in the field who are making their first trip to East Lake in 2018:

 

PlayerFEC Standing
Bryson DeChambeau1st
Cameron Smith10th
Francesco Molinari13th
Tommy Fleetwood19th
Aaron Wise21st
Patton Kizzire30th

 

Perks of finishing inside the top 30 in the FedExCup standings

One-year invitation to:

  • THE PLAYERS Championship, Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, The Open Championship
  • World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship
  • Other invitationals: CIMB Classic, CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES, CareerBuilder Challenge, Arnold Palmer Invitational, RBC Heritage, Charles Schwab Challenge and the Memorial Tournament

Additional Player Notes Tiger Woods

After an impressive comeback season that includes two runner-up finishes (T2/Valspar Championship, 2/PGA Championship) and four other top-10 results, Woods returns to East Lake for the first time since 2013. Woods’ solo-second finish at the PGA Championship moved him from No. 47 to No. 20 in the standings. Woods has one TOUR Championship title at East Lake to his credit (2007) as well as four runner-up results.

Woods owns at least a share of several tournament records at East Lake:

  • Tied for the lowest 9-hole score: 28/7-under, back nine, second round, 2007
  • Most Birdies: 28, 2007
  • Best Birdie-Eagle streak: (B-B-B-B-B-E), Nos. 13-18, third round, 2007 (shot 63)
  • One of two multiple winners of the TOUR Championship: 1999, 2007 (Mickelson: 2000, 2009)
  • Margin of victory: 8 strokes, 2007
  • Most runner-up finishes: 4/2000, 2004, 2005, 2009

 

Keegan Bradley

Bradley earned his first PGA TOUR victory in six years (2012/WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) with a playoff win over Justin Rose at the BMW Championship. The victory propelled Bradley from No. 52 to No. 6 in the standings and garnered his first trip to East Lake since 2013.

 

Brooks Koepka

Opened the 2017-2018 PGA TOUR Season with a T2 finish at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. After taking four months off with a wrist injury, Koepka posed a runner-up finish at the Fort Worth Invitational in May in only his fourth start back from injury.

Koepka became the first repeat winner of the U.S. Open since Curtis Strange in 1989 with his win at Shinnecock Hills. In his 100th start on the PGA TOUR, became just the fifth player to win the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year.

 

Bubba Watson

Watson recorded his 10th career PGA TOUR win – and first since the 2016 Genesis Open – in his 279th PGA TOUR start with a two-shot victory at the Genesis Open. He went on to collect two more victories this season at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and the Travelers Championship. Watson recorded a T7 at the Dell Technologies Championship remain inside the top 10 of the FedExCup standings. Watson’s three wins is the most in one season. He secured two wins in 2011, 2014 and 2015.

 

Xander Schauffele

Following a T3 to finish at the BMW Championship to qualify for his second-consecutive TOUR Championship, defending champion Xander Schauffele became the third player in the FedExCup era to return to East Lake the year after winning the title. Schauffele jumped from No. 41 to No. 18 in the standings. In 2017, Schauffele also entered the BMW Championship outside the top 30 until a T20 result vaulted him from No. 32 to No. 26 in the standings.

 

Schauffele’s season has been highlighted by two runner-up results (THE PLAYERS Championship, The Open Championship) and four other top-10 results.

 

Misc. Notes

In 2019, the TOUR Championship will be contested August 21-25, 2019 at East Lake Golf Club for a 16th consecutive time and 19th visit all time.

With the PGA TOUR moving up the 2018-19 schedule to conclude in August, the FedExCup Playoffs were reduced from four events to three and the Dell Technologies Championship in the Boston area was removed from the 2019 schedule to accommodate the changes. THE NORTHERN TRUST will remain the first FedExCup Playoffs event and continue to welcome the top 125 in the FedExCup standings when it returns to Liberty National Golf Club in 2019. The Playoffs field will then be trimmed to the top 70 for the BMW Championship, which will be staged at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

The top 30 will once again return to Atlanta and East Lake Golf Club for the TOUR Championship.

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