This weekend, the top 30 contenders in the FedExCup standings will vie for some coveted crowns: The Tour champion and the winner of the FedExCup.
But who will it be?
This year has been so unpredictable that it is impossible to tell.
Rory McIlroy has been the strongest contender of late, but what are the odds that he'll win a third consecutive Playoffs event?
Or maybe the Tour champion will be someone totally random, keeping in line with the 2012 trend of unexpected winners coming up huge. Maybe it will be someone like Adam Scott or Dustin Johnson, both of whom have seemed to be on the verge of doing big things all-year long.
Here's everything you need to know so you don't miss any of this weekend's pivotal action.
Where: East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Ga.
When: Thursday, September 20 to Sunday, September 23
Golfers to Watch
He may be seventh in the FedExCup standings, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone (other than McIlroy) who's been playing better—and who's been more consistent—than Johnson as of late.
In his last three Playoffs appearances, he has tied for sixth (BMW Championship), tied for fourth (Deutsche Bank Championship) and tied for third (The Barclays). On top of that, he earned one win this year at the St. Jude Classic, and he's registered eight Top 10 finishes.
For so long, it has seemed as though he has been on the brink of a win, and this weekend would be the perfect time to finally snag it. It is worth noting, however, that he's been on a slow descent over the last few weeks.
Could that continue?
As always, Tiger's recent wins total has had no bearing on his odds to win: For the Tour Championship, Bovada has marked him with the second-best odds at 5-1 (McIlroy has the best odds at 9-2).
So what's the story with Tiger? Why has he been so up-and-down all year? Why hasn't he won a major yet? Why have his strongest performances been followed with big slip-ups? Is it really because he's intimidated by McIlroy, or are his best days just behind him?
Probably none of the above.
Despite what Nicklaus says, Tiger hasn't been too bad of late. Starting with this year's British Open, Tiger's last six events have featured three Top Five finishes and four Top 10 finishes. The only big blemish on his recent record was a tie for 38th at The Barclays.
After a third-place finish at TPC Boston and a tie for fourth at the BMW Championship, Tiger could—dare I say it?—be primed for a huge weekend at East Lake.
That is, if Rory doesn't get in his way.
What McIlroy has done over the past couple of months has been truly remarkable, especially considering the state he was in as recently as July 22, when he finished in a tie for 60th at the British Open.
McIlroy went from being golf's poster child for one-hit wonders to someone who is now, according to Nicklaus, the most likely player to match his own record of 18 major titles, according to the New York Daily News' Hank Gola.
Gola reports that McIlroy is the PGA's only player with more 2012 wins than Tiger, he's a shoo-in to win Player of the Year and, of course, he's been on the biggest roll of all this summer: He's won three of his last four events, including the PGA Championship and two Playoffs events.
The only thing that interferes with the idea of McIlroy winning again this weekend is the idea that nobody can win three in a row.
Or can McIlroy?
Notable Pairings for Opening Round (all times ET):
|Time||Golfer No. 1||Golfer No. 2|
|1:55 p.m.||Rory McIlroy||Tiger Woods|
|1:45 p.m.||Nick Watney||Phil Mickelson|
|1:25 p.m.||Dustin Johnson||Lee Westwood|
|12:15 p.m.||Adam Scott||Ernie Els|
You can see all of the tee times at PGATour.com.
|Round 1||Thursday, Sept. 20||1 - 6 p.m.||GOLF|
|Round 2||Friday, Sept. 21||1 - 6 p.m.||GOLF|
|Round 3||Saturday, Sept. 22||12-2, 2-6 p.m.||GOLF, NBC|
|Round 4||Sunday, Sept. 23||11:30 a.m.-1:30, 1-6 p.m.||GOLF, NBC|
Prediction: Tiger Woods Wins
I've been victimized all-season long whenever I've picked Tiger to win. But he's looked good lately—remember, his first win of the year came on the heels of a tie for fourth—and consistency has always been the key for him. Right now, he's in a rhythm where he has essentially been able to hold it together through all four rounds, and if he can do that this weekend, he has a very good shot.
Plus, Tiger is the epitome of a competitor.
Nicklaus' words aren't going to go over well with him, and if anything is going to light a fire under him, it's those comments.