Before you read, please do check out our weekly post for Golf Monthly magazine. This week its all about Tiger and that ‘ball moving’ incident!
The end of the year is finally here. The best 30 players from 2013 have made this season ending Tour Championship, all vying for the potential prize of $10 million. However ludicrous that money is, it makes for a fascinating battle between the best in the world because most of them may already be stinking rich but none will sniff at that sort of payout.
As it has done since 2004, East Lake Golf course will play host this week and at 7,154 yards will provide a tough test for the 30-man field.
It is widely known as a ball strikers track, where accuracy from tee to green will be vital and the top of previous leaderboards have been constantly filled with these sorts of players.
Even with that said, the greens are where the real action will take place. Firstly winning the FedEx Cup is fast becoming a major achievement and secondly the pressure of standing over 10 footers for that amount of money will make even the steadiest heart tremble with nerves.
Last year the stimpmeter read 12.0 which is absolutely rapid and will cause all sorts of chaos, so whoever wins this will have putted out their skin on all four days.
The top 5 in the FedEx Cup standings have destiny in their own hands (you will hear the commentator bang on about this constantly) because if any of them win the tournament they will also win the whole FedEx Cup, just as Brandt Snedeker did last year.
The current top 5 – 1. Tiger Woods 2. Henrik Stenson 3. Adam Scott 4. Zach Johnson (was 27th before his win last week) 5. Matt Kuchar
Obviously value wise this is not an easy week because of the small field, but it is more acceptable to stake to win in these circumstances and we have some players that have really taken our eye.
Lets follow on from our win and 3 places last week and end the PGA Tour season on a high.
Quick Reminder: We’re trying to get as many people involved in the DownThe18th Fantasy Golf for 2014 with prize incentives hopefully on offer. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @downthe18th to get on board!
Hunter Mahan (20/1 various)
15th in FedEx Rankings
Hunter Mahan has certainly had an interesting season and may feel disappointed at his overall performance. 5 top 10s for someone of this calibre is just not good enough, but 2 of them were at major championships and a cheeky T4 last week will give him the world of confidence.
If he hadn’t shot 73 on Friday he would have been in contention more so than he was but the 65 and 67 that followed will give him so much hope going into this week. Plus he finished T8 and 2nd in the last two outings here, which is some achievement.
As a ball striker he is one of the best in the business when his game is on – 17th in the ball striking stats and at times last week he looked very lively. Off the tee he is just as accurate – 24th and he loves hitting greens – 27th. Basically from tee to green he is very dependable and if, if he can get his putter going then he has a serious chance of winning this.
After the publicised birth of his first child last month, he will be in an ecstatic mood at the moment and what better way to welcome your baby into the world than with $10 million? Obviously things will have to go his way to win that prize but as long as he wins this tournament, we won’t mind…
Steve Stricker (20/1 various)
6th in FedEx Rankings
We just used the word dependable in the above spiel for Mahan but that is how you sum up the 46-year old stalwart, Steve Stricker. What this man has done in 2013 is beyond incredible. He has only played 12 events yet found 10 top 25 and 7 top 10s, which is some achievement.
We stated in our original season preview how we thought he would be contending a few majors; enjoy his relaxed schedule and newfound freedom with his family. He perhaps should have done better in his final round at the US Open because he was superb the previous 3 days but we all know what happened on the first tee there…
Being able to climb to 6th in the FedEx Cup rankings from such few appearances shows how consistent he has been. Whilst, last week a T4 finish included two outstanding rounds of 66 and 64 but a 72 on Sunday ruined any chances of victory.
As for his tee to green abilities, it is scary how good and reliable he is – 3rd driving accuracy, 2nd GIR and 6th ball striking. Wow.
Because of how tight it could get his efficient scrambling (4th in the rankings) will come into play and when he gets on the green he is up there with the best putters in the world – 3rd strokes gained putting.
Ultimately, would it not be a fitting way to end the season with Stricker picking up the big cheque – because he is 6th, it is still pretty much in his hands – and we can all imagine him just waving his hands and calling it a day with $10 million in his pocket can’t we?
Come on Steve.
Luke Donald (20/1 various)
29th in FedEx Rankings
Considering he was number one in the world and has the ability to rival anyone, it is has been a disappointing season for Luke Donald. 5 top 10s on the PGA Tour sounds good on paper, but there have been too many awful showings. However, on his home course last week he played some solid golf to finish T4 and that will give him a lot of confidence as he comes to a track he has enjoyed memorable performances in recent years.
2012 and 2011 – T3, 2010 – T2 and 2006 T5 shows how he has enjoyed this course mainly because his abilities suit the challenge down to a tee. (excuse the pun.) Surprisingly his GIR stats are relatively shocking (151st) but that is because of some of his woeful outings, so 51st in driving accuracy and 11th in strokes gained putting is actually impressive considering. And when you think of scrambler, Donald is always one of the first names to enter your mind – 32nd in the rankings.
He will be arriving here with a limited chance of winning the big prize; a lot of things will have to go his way.
The fact he is even here is an achievement because he only sneaked inside the top 30 on the last few holes when he holed some tough putts and that could play into his favour in terms of the tournament. He will have everything to play for and nothing to lose.
Charl Schwartzel (33/1 StanJames)
23rd in FedEx Rankings
We really felt that at 33/1 Charl Schwartzel provided decent value considering the small field and gave us a chance to have a cheeky e/w bet on a supremely talented golfer.
He played very consistently for four rounds last week in his T8 finish and that should give him plenty of confidence as he arrives onto a course that he has never played at.
Even with his lack of knowledge about East Lake, it is a track that should suit his eye as a slick ball striker. When his game is on he is unerringly accurate and attacks pins for fun, in fact his main downfall all year has been on the greens, where he has missed far too many 5-footers – even though he somehow lies 27th in strokes gained putting.
He is one of those players that seems to thrive of a good run and if he can get going, following on from last week there is no reason why he can’t be up there challenging come Sunday.