Golf: 7 Players to Watch at the TOUR Championship

Jessica Montoya Coggins@JessicaMCogginsContributor ISeptember 20, 2012

Golf: 7 Players to Watch at the TOUR Championship

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    Rory McIlroy may be heavily favored as the current FedEx Cup leader to take this final tournament at East Lake, but the young Irishman will have to compete with a slew of players that will provide one final burst of drama before the Ryder Cup.

    Here’s a look at seven golfers to watch out for this weekend. And, no, we're not even mentioning Tiger. 

Steve Stricker

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    One of the Captain’s Picks from Davis Love III at the Ryder Cup, Stricker’s been stellar with his putting and is currently ranked 13th in the FedEx Cup standings.

    He should have no problem at East Lake, capping off a year that saw him make the cut at all four Majors. Though he missed the cut at the Players, it was the first time in 49 tournaments.

    Stricker’s consistency will serve him well and he should be a favorite in Georgia. 

Dustin Johnson

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    Aside from being cut at the U.S. Open, Johnson has crafted himself quite a fantastic year and he’s sitting well at No. 7 in the FedEx Cup rankings.

    Johnson is great with his driver (though he’s often eclipsed by Bubba Watson) and after posting an eagle two weeks ago at Crooked Pines, expect an encore (or two) this week. 

Jason Dufner

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    This has been quite the year for Dufner.

    He won two tour events on the PGA and made the cut at all four Majors, finishing tied for fourth at the U.S. Open. Dufner has seen his stock skyrocket in the last few months, but hasn’t faltered or shown any signs he’s not ready to take the next step in his career. 

Zach Johnson

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    Johnson has steadily crafted a solid year.

    He began the Playoffs at the Barclays paired off with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. You can guess who got the short end of the stick in terms of coverage. Nevertheless, Johnson and his steady putting have played extremely well this year.

    The winner of the John Deere Classic flew to Britain later in the week to place tied for ninth at The Open. Johnson has always been under-the-radar, but this week he could really launch himself into the top echelon of elite golfers. 

Louis Oosthuizen

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    The South African ultimately ceded the Deutsche Bank Championship to Rory McIlroy, even after leading entering Sunday.

    Off the tee there’s no one on the PGA with a better swing and he’s stellar at hitting greens in regulation. That particular skill set will come in handy at East Lake.

    Even if he doesn’t take an outright win, Oosthuizen will be someone we’re all talking about on Sunday.  

Phil Mickelson

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    It was a pretty eventful year for Mickelson: making a run at the Masters and then bombing abysmally at the U.S. Open and Open Championship.

    Lo and behold, he’s still ranked fourth in FedEx Cup points.

    He’s a fan favorite and a roar of applause usually follows him around the green wherever he’s playing. He’s going to be consistent, maybe even a little conservative this weekend, and that strategy will serve him well.

    Watch out for him to make a run at the whole thing Sunday. 

Hunter Mahan

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    Mahan just missed out on a Ryder Cup Captain’s Pick and barely made the cut at Crooked Sticks (in fact, he missed the cut at the Barclays), but that doesn’t mean he should be overlooked over the weekend.

    Mahan had that sort of uneasy year that makes one weary of thinking he could take this last playoff. He still logged two PGA Tour wins and finished tied for 12th at the Masters.

    After being snubbed by the Ryder Cup, why wouldn’t he want to go and play the best few days of his career?