Editor's note (Aug. 23): Will Zalatoris withdrew Tuesday due to a back injury
The TOUR Championship marks not only the conclusion of the 2021-22 PGA TOUR season but also the 16th edition of the FedExCup Playoffs. And how sweet it is.
Merely qualifying for the finale is an achievement, so there are commensurate benefits on top of what’s at stake beginning on Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Beneath this full-field Power Rankings, you’ll find details on the perks, the host course and much more.
NOTE: Starting Strokes for every golfer are included.
POWER RANKINGS: TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 30 Hideki Matsuyama 29 Tom Hoge 28 K.H. Lee 27 Sahith Theegala 26 J.T. Poston 25 Collin Morikawa 24 Sepp Straka 23 Viktor Hovland 22 Cameron Young 21 Billy Horschel 20 Aaron Wise 19 Brian Harman 18 Corey Conners 17 Max Homa 16 Scott Stallings 15 Adam Scott 14 Joaquin Niemann 13 Jordan Spieth 12 Tony Finau 11 Cameron Smith 10 Will Zalatoris 9 Matt Fitzpatrick 8 Sam Burns 7 Sungjae Im 6 Justin Thomas 5 Rory McIlroy 4 Jon Rahm 3 Xander Schauffele 2 Scottie Scheffler 1 Patrick Cantlay
On top of exemptions into numerous invitationals, all 30 qualifiers for the TOUR Championship receive spots into the 2023 editions of the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship. While those are secure, prize money collected at the conclusion of the tournament varies.
Included in the link to Starting Strokes at the top is the bonus money reserved for the golfers who advanced to the TOUR Championship. The winner will bank $18 million, tenth place pays $1 million, while last promises $500K. (Earnings are unofficial.)
For the fourth consecutive edition of the TOUR Championship, Starting Strokes sets the opening leaderboard. It’s designed to reward performance through the BMW Championship and you can think of its impact as the result of a round that’s already been completed. Scoring in relation to par with Starting Strokes contributing is all that matters.
Last year, Patrick Cantlay opened as the top seed at 10-under. He scored 11-under 269 in four rounds to total 21-under and win by one over Jon Rahm. The Spaniard opened as the fourth seed at 6-under and scored 14-under 266.
In 2019 and 2020, exactly six golfers rose from outside the opening top 10 upon arrival to record a top 10 in the tournament. Five did it last year, including Billy Horschel, who opened at even par and finished T9 at 10-under. His jump from 29th is the best since Starting Strokes was introduced.
A dozen of the qualifiers are experiencing Starting Strokes for the first time, 10 of whom are tournament debutants altogether. The learning curve at East Lake is flattened a bit by opening position, but course management influenced by history on it can serve as speed slots on the tiniest leaderboard of the season.
East Lake is the same stock par 70 that recent participants have played. It tips at 7,346 yards and greens essentially are average in size at just over 6,000 square feet. Speeds are governed to a quick 13 feet, so, and as usual, it demands the full bag for the final exam. That said, classic summer weather in Hotlanta could soften the turf every day, so scoring could be lower than usual. (The field checked in at 68.805 last year.) Rain and the potential for storms command attention throughout, but the overall effect should be minimal given the size of the field. Wind will not be a factor and daytime temperatures will climb comfortably into the 80s.
While the FedExCup Playoffs is now old enough to drive, East Lake always caters to that off the tee. The par 5s are among the most scorable on the schedule. In his four trips through Nos. 6 and 18, Cantlay birdied each every time.
Speaking of the defending champion, he’s in an unprecedented spot times two. After becoming the first to successfully defend a FedExCup Playoffs event at last week’s BMW Championship, he not only can become the first ever to win consecutive events in the Playoffs for a second time (2021), but he’d be the first to successfully defend the FedExCup itself. Of course, should he do that, then he’d also become the second to successfully defend a FedExCup Playoffs event after last week’s achievement.
Whoever claims the title will be credited with an official PGA TOUR victory. With that comes an invitation into the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions for which one-third of the field isn’t yet eligible. Rookies Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala not only and likely will be deciding who’s voted Rookie of the Year, but they are the only two non-winners on TOUR in the field. The champion also will extend his membership status to the maximum of five seasons through 2027.
Incidentally, in January it was announced that Andrew Green and his design company will be renovating East Lake following next year’s TOUR Championship. If you like his work, you don’t have to look far to find more of it. He also was responsible for the updated South Course at Wilmington Country Club in advance of last week’s BMW Championship.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Pick ’Em Preview
SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Rookie Ranking
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.