Final Odds for the 2015 FedEx Cup Playoffs: Handicapping Championship Contenders

Joe SteigmeyerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2015

Final Odds for the 2015 FedEx Cup Playoffs: Handicapping Championship Contenders

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2015 FedEx Cup playoffs are drawing to a close with the Tour Championship in Atlanta from September 24-27, but the $10 million champion is far from decided.

    Though Jason Day has been crushing the field over the past two months in nearly every event he’s started, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and others are still well within striking distance.

    Here, we list the top remaining contenders for the FedEx Cup crown, based on consensus odds compiled by Oddschecker and playoff scenarios confirmed by PGATour.com. In the event of ties, we analyze both players’ form to determine who has the edge in these rankings.

    However, let’s first give a nod to the honorable mentions who just missed out on “serious contender” status, starting with Jim Furyk.

Honorable Mentions

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    Stew Milne/Associated Press

    Jim Furyk

    At 80-1 odds, Jim Furyk symbolizes the cutoff line between the most realistic contenders (who have all equal to or better than 33-1 odds to win) and the peripheral dark horses noted here in the honorable-mention section. He’s 4,593 FedEx Cup points off the lead, meaning he would have to win and hope the stars align to keep the favorites off the front page of the leaderboard—and that combination just isn’t likely.

    Charley Hoffman

    Charley Hoffman is another long shot at 90-1 odds and 4,316 points off the lead, which knocks him outside the top competitors at the Tour Championship in the oddsmakers’ eyes. As far as winning scenarios go, however, he is actually in slightly better shape than Furyk.

    If Hoffman wins the Tour Championship, Jason Day finishes third or worse, Jordan Spieth finishes tied for second or worse and Rickie Fowler finishes second or worse, he will be the FedEx playoff champion.

    Hideki Matsuyama

    Matsuyama stands at 100-1 odds to win. He is 4,557 points off first place in the standings, meaning he currently occupies 15th place on the leaderboard. Though he rose one spot since last week, Matsuyama still has a mountain to climb to win it all (in addition to hoping the top competitors falter, naturally). The fact that he did not register a single win on tour this season adds to that pressure.

    Patrick Reed

    Like the pro from Japan, Patrick Reed also slips in at 100-1 odds. He faces a similar challenge to that of Matsuyama, in that he is approximately 4,500 points off the trophy spot. Reed does have a PGA Tour win (the Hyundai Tournament of Champions) to fall back on, but that was in January. Overall this season, he has only four top-10 finishes.

9. Justin Rose

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Odds to win: 33-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 4,501

    The Englishman actually hangs outside the top 10 in FedEx Cup points at the 12th spot, but he proved this season he can contend on Sunday. Since winning the Tour Championship is a prerequisite for almost everyone in the field seeking the FedEx Cup, the oddsmakers have given Rose a vote of confidence based on his results this season.

    After tying for second at the Masters and following it up with a win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Rose was all over the tops of leaderboards from June to last week’s BMW Championship.

    He took second in a playoff at the Memorial Tournament, tied for sixth at the British Open, tied for fourth at the Quicken Loans National, tied for third at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, placed fourth outright at the PGA Championship and tied for 13th at the BMW.

    Those finishes are impressive if you just look at the numbers—but even more so if you note the challenging fields at those events (Rose also tied for 27th at the U.S. Open). 

    He’ll still need the top FedEx Cup challengers to falter, but if there’s an opening, no one would be surprised to see Justin Rose take it.

8. Dustin Johnson

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Odds to win: 22-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 4,226

    If Dustin Johnson’s 2015 PGA season were a Wilco song, it’d be “The Art of Almost.”

    The man ranked No. 9 in the world is on the outside looking in yet again, but all hope is not lost. Johnson can still hoist the FedEx Cup if he wins at East Lake, Day finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse and Jordan Spieth finishes tied for second or worse.

    Considering the 31-year-old earned 10 top-10 results this season—including a win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship and a tie for second at the U.S. Open—there’s every reason to believe he should be in contention on championship Sunday.

    Johnson is still one of the most intimidating drivers on tour, and he has demonstrated some inspired short-iron play throughout the year (perhaps most notably at Chambers Bay). He is also walking into a scenario where most of the responsibility for victory rests squarely on his shoulders, not unlike at a regular tour event.

    Johnson has struggled to insulate himself from psychological pressure at a number of big events (see: all the majors), but he has the talent to surprise the field at the Tour Championship if he can keep his cool.

7. Zach Johnson

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Odds to win: 22-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 4,216

    The 2015 British Open champion is the first player on this list who does not have to win the Tour Championship in order to win the FedEx Cup. Mathematically speaking, Zach Johnson can finish in second place and still win the $10 million prize. 

    However, if you’re not content to play the long odds and let fate decide whether or not Johnson wins the FedEx Cup, you can still hope he wins the Tour Championship, while Jason Day finishes tied for second or worse. That would guarantee victory for the 39-year-old.

    Though he may be tied with Dustin Johnson at 22-1 in the oddsmakers’ books, Zach leapfrogs the man from South Carolina because of the fact that he can perform slightly worse at the Tour Championship and still win the cup.

    If you aren’t satisfied with that reasoning, you could also split hairs between the two Johnsons by measuring their respective FedEx Cup points totals (which results in Zach coming out ahead by 10).

6. Rory McIlroy

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Odds to win: 18-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 4,491

    He may have had an up-and-down season—opening the calendar year with a missed cut at the Honda Classic and putting his play on hiatus for the entire month of July to recover from an ankle injury—but Rory is still Rory.

    From 11 starts, McIlroy managed nine top-25 finishes (including seven top-10s). He won the WGC-Cadillac Match Play and Wells Fargo Championship and also tied for ninth at the U.S. Open, took fourth at the Masters and tied for fourth most recently at the BMW Championship.

    Unfortunately for McIlroy’s fans, the Northern Irishman doesn’t have much control of his own FedEx Cup destiny. Like everyone outside the top five, he can drastically improve his chances by winning the Tour Championship, but he would still need a lot of help from the guys ahead of him on this list.

    In order for McIlroy to win, the top five players in the FedEx rankings would have to take a serious, collective dip in form. That would include Day tying for 10th or worse, which seems absurdly unlikely, considering the Aussie has won four of the last six events he started (and tied for 12th at the other two).

5. Bubba Watson

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Odds to win: 12-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 3,071

    Bubba Watson is the first player on this list who completely controls his own destiny. If he wins the Tour Championship, he will be the 2015 FedEx Cup champion. That’s not an easy task, obviously, but at least there’s clarity.

    As for Watson’s credentials this season, he has nine top-10 finishes, including third place at The Barclays and WGC-Cadillac Championships; seconds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Canadian Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational; and a playoff win at the Travelers and WGC-HSBC Championships.

    The two-time Masters winner has come through before when a big title is on the line, and that’s a big reason why the oddsmakers have awarded him 12-1 odds to take home the $10 million title.

    Then again, even if Bubba isn’t on his A-plus game at the Tour Championship, there’s still a mathematical chance he could win the FedEx Cup, as long as he does no worse than finish tied for second.

4. Henrik Stenson

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Odds to win: 13-2

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 3,048

    The world No. 6 has scored a perfect 15 out of 15 when it comes to made cuts this season. What’s more, Henrik Stenson turned nearly half of those into top-10 finishes.

    That’s an excellent record for the season as a whole, but the Swede’s chances look even better when you focus on his 2015 playoff run. 

    Stenson kicked off the FedEx Cup playoffs with a second-place finish at The Barclays, followed it up with another at the Deutsche Bank Championship and managed a tie for 10th at last week’s BMW Championship.

    He is hitting his stride at the perfect time, so he has the momentum factor in his favor. In addition, Stenson actually has a decent chance of winning the FedEx Cup if he finishes second at the Tour Championship. Having a little psychological leeway to be a shade less than perfect and still win may just be enough to give Stenson a killer edge.

3. Rickie Fowler

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Odds to win: 13-2

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 2,722

    Rickie Fowler may have identical odds to Henrik Stenson, but the 26-year-old edges the Swede on the strength of his two most recent results.

    As we’ve established, Stenson is on an impressive streak coming down the home stretch. Fowler, though, one-upped him by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and tying for fourth at the BMW Championship.

    This has been a serious confidence-boosting year for Fowler, as he picked up a huge win in a playoff at the Players Championship and then quickly notched another at the Scottish Open.

    Combining great, recent results with a positive mental outlook could very well be the formula that writes Rickie Fowler into the history books for 2015.

2. Jordan Spieth

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Odds to win: 9-2

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: 2,288

    Listing Jordan Spieth’s 2015 accomplishments would be an exercise in excess, so we’ll try to keep things brief.

    He won the Masters and U.S. Open before barely missing out on the British Open and PGA Championship. Overall, the 22-year-old collected 14 top-10 finishes from 20 made cuts.

    The Tour Championship is far from a two-horse race, but it would be difficult to imagine anything other than a duel between Spieth and Jason Day if both men are playing at their season’s best. That isn’t looking like it will be the case, however, as the young man from Texas seems to have taken a big stumble in the playoffs. 

    After taking second at the PGA Championship, Spieth missed consecutive cuts at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship. He rebounded somewhat with a tie for 13th at the BMW Championship, but his status as an unstoppable force may be retired as far as 2015 is concerned.

    Spieth could turn it back on at East Lake, but the overwhelming momentum belongs to Day.

1. Jason Day

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Odds to win: 6-1

    Points behind FedEx Cup leader: N/A

    Jason Day is both the current FedEx Cup points leader and the world No. 1 golfer. After breaking through to win his first major championship in August, the Australian has gone on a career-defining, postseason tear. 

    So far in the playoffs, Day has won The Barclays, tied for 12th at the Deutsche Bank Championship and won the BMW Championship. That blistering run of form is a big reason why he has 6,680 FedEx points in the bank heading into the Tour Championship.

    But let’s not forget the rest of his impressive season.

    Since December 2014, Day has claimed 10 top-10 finishes, including a tie for third place at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and five (not a typo) total wins. In fact, considering four of those five wins have come from his last six starts, the Aussie’s conclusion to the 2015 season is starting to look a lot like a certain Northern Irishman’s conclusion to the 2014 season.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean he will win this year’s FedEx Cup (Billy Horschel beat McIlroy to the title last year), but it’s impossible to say Day’s favorable odds aren’t fully deserved. He has the skill, experience and momentum to take home the $10 million prize—and he should end up doing just that.