Tour Championship Preview & Betting Tips7 min read
The PGA Tour season concludes this week with the FedEx Cup decider at the Tour Championship. Justin Thomas is in pole position to land the $15m windfall after winning last week’s BMW Championship.
Thomas has jumped to the top of the standings and will have the significant advantage of starting this week’s tournament on ten-under-par. The new format, in the field of 30, will see a staggered start in terms of starting strokes with second-placed Patrick Cantlay beginning on eight-under-par. Fifth-placed Rory McIlroy will begin on five-under-par and it is difficult to make a case for players much below this with the last five starting ten shots back of Thomas on level par.
East Lake will provide a much tougher examination than last week at Medinah. The 7,385-yard par 70 rarely yields exceptionally low scoring with a premium on ball striking and finding plenty of greens in regulation. Tiger Woods won last year’s tournament on 11-under-par but the Masters champion failed to qualify for this season’s finale.
Thomas will be tough to beat
Thomas is as short as 9/4 to convert his lead into another tournament victory and it is very difficult to find negatives in his chances. The American has never finished worse than seventh at the event and with low scores hard to find at East Lake, Thomas will be very tough to catch. His price fails to get the juices flowing though and it is worth concentrating on a different market.
Betting without the FedEx Cup starting strokes is available and this is the outright betting market used for almost every golf tournament. This is a much more appealing proposition with Thomas looking such a strong favourite.
Matsuyama finding form for East Lake
Hideki Matsuyama produced a superb showing at last week’s BMW Championship and the Japanese ace will be looking to sign off the PGA Tour season in style. Matsuyama led going into the weekend at Medinah and finished with a flourish to take third place. The 27-year-old twice shot 63 during the tournament and significantly his putter, which often lets him down, was as hot as his typically strong ball striking.
Matsuyama is a five-time PGA Tour champion but looking for his first win since 2017 after a frustrating couple of seasons. The former world number two is an exceptional talent and will have not given up hope of ending his winless run with success this weekend. Matsuyama starts seven shots back but his previous form at East Lake offers encouragement. He finished fourth last season and fifth in 2016 so he has strong credentials at 16/1 to win without the starting strokes.
Xander Schauffele has hugely positive vibes at East Lake and more success in Georgia could be heading his way this weekend. He ended his rookie season on the PGA Tour with an exceptional win at the Tour Championship in 2017, holding off Thomas down the stretch. The American also produced a strong title defence last season with seventh spot and is yet to shoot a round over par at the course.
Schauffele has enjoyed his most successful season to date with a victory at the WGC HSBC Champions backed up with a win at the Tournament of Champions. The 25-year-old, who seems to peak for the biggest events, was also runner-up at the Masters and third at the US Open. A top 20 at the BMW Championship was a solid effort and Schauffele, who starts six shots back, will fancy his chances of getting into the mix at 20/1 at a course where he has excelled.
Another player worth backing to finish with the lowest score without starting strokes is Kevin Kisner. The accurate American appears to be running into form and has plenty of motivation to perform this week. The 35-year-old missed out on a place on the Presidents Cup team after finishing 15th and knows he will need something special to secure a pick from captain Woods. A tie for 12th at the Northern Trust was followed by an encouraging ninth at Medinah but he probably needs to threaten a victory to land a wildcard pick.
Kisner cannot overpower a golf course but his steady game is well suited to the challenge of East Lake. He impressed on his last start at the tournament two years ago, finishing just two shots behind Schauffele in third spot. The Bermuda greens specialist should make his fair share of putts this week and can perform on the big stage, as he did with victory in March at the WGC Match Play. Kisner, who starts eight back of Thomas, can enhance his Presidents Cup claims with a strong finish at 40/1 each way.
Hideki Matsuyama to win without FedEx Cup starting strokes Each Way
Xander Schauffele to win without starting strokes Each Way
Kevin Kisner to win without starting strokes Each Way