Jason Day heads into this week's Tour Championship atop the FedEx Cup standings and on an absolute tear. The Aussie has won four of his past six tournaments, including last week's BMW Championship, to establish himself as the player to beat heading into the season finale.
He's one of five players—Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson are the others—who can win the championship trophy and the $10 million payday with a victory at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. PGATour.com features a scenario breakdown for all 29 players in the event.
The field is one golfer short after Jim Furyk withdrew because of a wrist injury. Let's check out where everybody else stands following the BMW Championship before examining some of the top players to watch during the battle for the playoff title.
FedEx Cup Standings
|2015 FedEx Cup Standings: Final 30|
|PGATour.com; Furyk Out (Injury)|
Tour Championship Predictions
Favorite: Jason Day
There are no shortage of ways to describe Day's dominance in recent months. Here's one: He's shot more rounds below 65 (four) than above 70 (three) over his past eight tournaments. It's a stretch that includes three major championships and a trio of playoff events.
Now the question is whether he can continue to showcase that form with so much on the line. While his first major triumph at the PGA Championship suggests he may have finally jumped the mental hurdle associated with big events, the PGA Tour noted he's not afraid to admit his past failures:
If Day plays at the same level he did in the BMW, where he shot 61 and 63 in the first round en route to a six-shot win, he'll capture the championship. The problem is playing that type of golf consistently is an incredibly difficult task.
Add in the fact his margin for error is small since a victory is the only way to guarantee the title and he's far from a lock. Expect a close battle to the finish line Sunday.
Sleeper: Daniel Berger
It's quite a story that Berger is still in the playoffs. He qualified for the postseason more due to quantity than quality. He's played 30 events and made the weekend in just 16 of them. Before the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second playoff event, he had missed seven straight cuts.
Something finally clicked at TPC Boston. The rookie finished 12th there and backed it up with a second-place finish in the BMW last week to reach the final event. Now he's basically playing with house money and holding a chance to pull off a huge shocker.
Golf is a game of confidence, and it sure seems like he's been operating with plenty of it for the past few events. There's one other distinction on the line as he tries to beat out Justin Thomas as the top rookie on tour this season, as highlighted by Sean Martin of PGATour.com:
Berger needs to win the Tour Championship and get some help to win the title. While there's no doubt he's a long shot considering the star-studded nature of the field, he's trending in the right direction and can swing freely knowing the spotlight will be on those marquee names.
Champion: Jordan Spieth
In the end, the star of the season will take center stage one more time. After winning the first two majors of the season, Spieth missed the playoff at the Open Championship by a single stroke and finished second to Day in the PGA Championship. A few more breaks and he may have captured the Grand Slam.
His play during the playoffs has dropped off a bit. He missed the cut at both The Barclays and the Deutsche Bank Championship before finishing 13th in the BMW Championship. There were enough positive signs during last week's event to like his chances in the finale, though.
He started hitting better approach shots, which allowed him to take more aggressive lines. Now he just needs to make sure the putter heats up this week. It wouldn't surprise anybody if it did because he's played his best golf on the biggest stages, which Day complimented, per Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel:
One more memorable moment can cap off a year that's already moved him into the sport's top tier. It's tough to pick against Day knowing how well he's played as of late. But if there's one player who can raise his game enough to make it happen, it's Spieth.