Now is the Time to Bet the 2018 Tour Championship
The US PGA Tour reached its conclusion in November in the past with the Tour Championship. The Money List and Player of the Season were much sought after honors but there was no season-defining conclusion. The FedEx Cup has added a new level to each season and the 30 qualifiers for the Tour Championship always include several players from the top 10 in the world rankings. Rose reached the pinnacle of the sport after the BMW Championship and only DeChambeau has won more FedEx Cup points during 2018. Rose is who to bet on for the Tour Championship. It would be apt for the world number one to win the FedEx Cup.
Only DeChambeau won a playoff event of the players in the top five. In fact he won the first two playoff tournaments and has a healthy lead in the standings. However, any of the next four players in the points list will overhaul him if they win the Tour Championship. Keegan Bradley beat Rose in the playoff for the BMW event and is sixth in the FedEx Cup standings. Brooks Koepka is seventh but should be Player of the Year after winning two of the four majors. He has now won three of the last seven majors after learning his trade on the European Tour.
A Bradley win in the Tour Championship does not guarantee the FedEx Cup but only certain other finishing positions of the top five would deny him. Even Patton Kizzire in 30th place could leapfrog everybody else but that is highly unlikely. Bubba Watson could have quit the game at the end of last season but he has come back from ill-health even stronger and better. The three-time winner this season is at number eight in the list. Billy Horschel and Cameron Smith complete the FedEx Cup top 10. Any winner from 6 to 10 would probably win the FedEx Cup but that is not certain.
The Tour Championship is being played at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The Sunday finish is just five days before the start of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris. Several Tour Championship qualifiers could be travelling from the United States to France on the same flight. You would hope if the party includes the winner of the FedEx Cup and $10 million bonus he will be buying dinner and drinks en route. In contrast there is no prize money or appearance money at the Ryder Cup. I wonder for the elite players at what point do titles and trophies mean more than money?
Golf is fundamentally an individual sport and it is only played as part of team in matches like the Ryder Cup. The United States won last time but Europe won six of the seven previous Ryder Cups. Team members will be trying to beat each other in the Tour Championship and then playing for the same cause in the Ryder Cup the following week. Six Europeans are playing in both events and all but one of the US Ryder Cup team are playing in the Tour Championship. The odd man out is Jordan Spieth who missed the Tour Championship by one place.
East Lake was the Tour Championship host course for the first time in 1998 and has been the permanent home since 2004. The course is above average in length for a par 70. The bentgrass greens are difficult to read and overall the course provides a sound test. There is plenty of course form to assess and Rose was the runner-up in 2012 and 2015 but he can go one better this year and clinch the FedEx Cup.