The First Look: TOUR Championship
September 17, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- September 17, 2018
Inside the PGA TOUR
2018 TOUR Championship preview
FedExCup points leader Bryson DeChambeau headlines the 30-man field that will determine the season champion, as the FedExCup Playoffs once again wrap at Atlanta’s historic East Lake Golf Club.
Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson and defending champion Justin Thomas round out the five players who can lay claim to the $10 million end-of-season bonus simply by winning the TOUR Championship. For everyone else, a little – or a lot – of assistance is required.
Tiger Woods returns to postseason finale for the first time since 2013, when Henrik Stenson’s victory at East Lake allowed him to leapfrog Woods to the top of the standings. Woods will begin this week at No. 20. … Phil Mickelson is set for his 20th TOUR Championship start, extending his own record. He’ll also become the first man to reach 45 FedExCup Playoffs starts. … Jordan Spieth wound up 31st in FedExCup points, one below the cutoff. … Aaron Wise, winner of the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, is the only rookie to reach the final playoff stop this season.
Winner receives 2,000 points.
DeChambeau, who won both THE NORTHERN TRUST and Dell Technologies Championship to start the Playoffs, seeks to become the first since Woods in 2009 to win from the No. 1 seed entering East Lake. If not, he’ll join McIlroy (2012) and Jason Day (2015) to win two of the first three Playoffs events but not the big prize. … The annual East Lake points reset gives everyone a mathematical shot at taking the crown. For No. 30 Patton Kizzire to win, though, DeChambeau would have to place in the bottom two at East Lake. … No. 5 Thomas, No. 9 Billy Horschel and No. 17 McIlroy have a chance to join Woods as the only two-time winner of the FedExCup crown. … Woods also can become the FedExCup’s first three-time winner, though he’ll need a win at East Lake, DeChambeau to finish no better than a share of 15th and other help. … BMW Championship winner Keegan Bradley stands No. 6, joining McIlroy (2016) as the only men to win one of the first three Playoffs stops but still needing help at East Lake to win the overall title.
East Lake Golf Club, 7,385 yards, par 70. A Tom Bendelow design when it opened in 1908 as the Atlanta Athletic Club’s original home, the course got an overhaul just five years later by Donald Ross. It’s best known as the place where Bobby Jones learned the game, shooting 80 by age 11 and later stamping his name in history by completing the 1930 Grand Slam. East Lake welcomed the 1950 U.S. Women’s Amateur and 1963 Ryder Cup before a decaying neighborhood sent members moving to the northern suburbs. The AAC itself followed in 1967, leaving East Lake in the hands of 25 members opposed to the move. The club managed to hold on for a quarter-century before a 1993 project was launched to restore the club as a tribute to Jones. The TOUR Championship came to East Lake for the first time in 1998, becoming the annual host in 2004.
For those visiting the Atlanta area, must-play courses include Bear’s Best Atlanta (Suwanee, Ga.), the Fazio Course at Barnsley Resort (Adairsville, Ga.) and Heritage Golf Links (Tucker, Ga.). Explore your options at TeeOff.com.
257, Tiger Woods (2007).
60, Zach Johnson (3rd round, 2007).
The TOUR Championship saw just its third split ceremony of the FedExCup era, with Thomas taking the $10 million season prize despite rookie Xander Schauffele winning the tournament. Thomas finished second on the leaderboard, carding birdies on two of his final three holes to finish off a 4-under 66. But that left him one stroke behind Schauffele, whose 68 was good enough to become the first rookie to win the season finale. It was his second win of the season, joining his win at the Military Tribute at The Greenbrier triumph in June. Thomas’ runner-up placement made him an easy winner of the points race, finishing 660 points ahead of No. 2 Jordan Spieth. East Lake’s closing ceremony had not crowned two winners since 2009, when Mickelson captured the tournament but Woods walked away with top FedExCup spoils.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 1-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (GC), 2:30-6:30 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (GC), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (featured groups), 1-6 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (featured holes). Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (featured holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m.; Saturday, 1-6:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).