With the second year of the PGA’s Tour Championship revised format, the players will close out the official golf season. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings will tee it up Friday morning at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta with the winner capturing the season-long title and a $15 million bonus.
By virtue of his first-place standing after last week’s BMW Championship, Dustin Johnson will begin with a score of 10 under par. Jon Rahm, last week’s winner in a playoff over Johnson, will start with a score of 8-under par, followed by Justin Thomas at 7-under. Webb Simpson will begin at 6-under, and PGA champion Colin Morikawa will follow at 5-under.
The rest of the field starts at scores in groups of five reflected by their standings. The remaining players range from 4-under-par to those at the bottom beginning at even. To win the tournament and the FedEx cup, one of those in at even would have to make up 10 shots on Johnson.
Betting Lines for the Tour Championship
For the most part, as expected, the betting odds reflect the positioning of the players entering the tournament. Johnson is at +170, followed by Rahm at +245 and Thomas at +550. In addition to his top spot in the FedEx Cup standings, Johnson also won the first playoff event by 11 shots and is number 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings.
Although a two-shot lead is definitely an advantage, it’s helpful to look at some recent developments in tournaments. Just last week, Rahm was as many as five shots behind in the final round of the BMW Championship and ended up defeating Johnson in a playoff. Last year in the Tour Championship, Rory McIlroy started in fifth place, five shots behind Thomas.
McIlroy shot rounds of 66-67-68-66 for 13-under on the course and a finishing score of 18 under. Starting in the sixth spot, Xander Schauffele ended up in second, four shots behind McIlroy. Thomas struggled all week and couldn’t add enough to his advantage to win.
Without the staggered start, McIlroy would have won at 13-under-par, followed by Schauffele at 10-under and Paul Casey at 7-under-par. Schauffele began in the sixth spot, which Bryson DeChambeau occupies this year at odds of +2300, which means a $10 bet could net you $230 if he went on to win.
In fifth, the position McIlroy won from last year, Morikawa goes off at +2000, and he showed at the PGA Championship how he can come from behind.
Beyond the Favorites
How far behind can someone start and still have a chance at victory? Judging from the betting odds, it looks like Vegas doesn’t give anyone more than seven shots behind Johnson much of a chance.
Last year McIlroy and Schauffele lapped the field. If instead of McIlroy, someone starting the week at 1-under par had shot 13-under for the week, he would have finished in a playoff with Schauffele.
Looking down the list, there are players like Tony Finau (-2, +5000), Scottie Scheffler, who shot a 59 in the Northern Trust (-2, +8000), and Patrick Reed (-3, +6000) who can take it low and erase a big lead in a hurry. While it’s hard to argue that with Johnson sitting at the top (-10, +170) is the safe bet, there are plenty of players on which to take a shot at a big payout.