The Tour Championship in Atlanta will decide the FedEx Cup title and the $10 million prize that goes along with it. This will lead to plenty of drama over the upcoming four rounds of golf.
Only the top five players in the current standings control their own destiny this weekend, meaning a win at East Lake Golf Club would be enough to bring home the ultimate prize. However, all 30 players in the field have a chance to win the FedEx Cup if things go perfectly.
Here is a look at the latest standings heading into Thursday as well as predictions for the final individual tournament of the season.
|FedEx Cup Standings|
|18||Si Woo Kim||272||1||4|
While golf is a sport where big tournaments can be won by seemingly anyone, history tells us this hasn't been the case in this event.
Each of the last four winners of the Tour Championship were in the top five of the standings coming into the week, allowing them to clinch the FedEx Cup title in the process. Bill Haas and Jim Furyk also won both in the same day, as the different point system allowed them to jump from outside the top 10 to first.
While this means we could be due for a change, the reality is Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey have a leg up on the rest of the competition.
Johnson has clearly been the hottest of this group, winning three of his last eight events. This includes both the U.S. Open and the recent BMW Championship. He has six top-five finishes since the start of June, and with the exception of missing the cut at the PGA Championship, he has been almost flawless.
The best endorsement for his play might come from his top competition—Day. The current No. 1 player in the world explained the keys to Johnson's success, per Andrew Both of Reuters:
Three things for him to be successful are driving, wedges and putting...and that's what he's doing great right now. His wedges have improved, his driving has always been great, and it's even better now he's hitting a cut.
You add the length with great driving, you have wedge in your hand more times and once you improve those wedges you have more opportunities for birdies.
And if you putt half-decently, and he's putting better than half decent, he's going to win a lot of tournaments. It's a formula for success.
According to PGATour.com, Johnson enters the week ranked second in the world in strokes gained off the tee and third in strokes gained from tee to green. This gives him quite an advantage over the rest of the field. Considering his putting has also improved, he might be unstoppable heading into East Lake.
Day should also be a top contender as one of the most talented players in the field, but there are real concerns about his back injury after he was forced to withdraw in the final round of the BMW Championship.
Will Gray of Golf Channel noted the issues for the Australian:
A fully healthy Day could challenge Johnson for the win, but he is clearly less than 100 percent heading into this tournament.
As for others to watch out for, Rory McIlroy is always a threat to post a low score when he is on his game. Inconsistency has been a problem for the Northern Irish star, as evident by his last three finishes (T-31st, 1st, T-42nd). However, he usually steps up in the biggest tournaments, and this event qualifies.
Finally, fans should watch out for Casey to end up high on the leaderboard after earning back-to-back second-place finishes in the last two tournaments. He's in position to win the FedEx Cup if he secures a victory this weekend, although it might be tough to hang with the biggest names in the world for four more rounds.
In the end, this entire event could just become a battle for second behind Johnson.
Prediction: 1. Dustin Johnson, 2. Rory McIlroy, 3. Paul Casey
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