This article is part of our Golf Picks series.
Tour Championship Betting Preview
The 2021-22 season comes to a close in Atlanta with the TOUR Championship.
All 30 players that have made it thus far are exempt into next year's four major championships and will be fighting for a massive payday this weekend with the winner taking home $18 million. The format for the season ending tournament is different than any other on Tour, with Scottie Scheffler starting at 10-under with a two-shot lead over Patrick Cantlay. Full starting positions can be found here. Will Zalatoris (back) is the lone player not teeing it up this week as the field consists of 18 of the top 20 players in the Official World Golf Rankings. Last year, Patrick Cantlay held onto his pre-tournament lead, defeating Jon Rahm by one stroke for his first TOUR Championship.
East Lake Golf Club has been the host of the final event since 2004 and has traditionally played as one of the most difficult tests on Tour with the best score since 2007 being 15-under. A par-70 at over 7,300 yards, water is in play on a few holes and the course's defense includes narrow fairways and length as six par-4s play over 450 yards and the par-3s require mid-to-long irons between 195-235 yards. That provides limited scoring opportunities with only a pair of par-5s and the thick rough puts a premium on finding fairways. Approach play tends to not be as big of a factor as at a typical setup, with golfers using driving play and scrambling to score well at East Lake.
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Exceptional at East Lake
These players, with a minimum of two appearances, have the lowest scoring average at East Lake since 2017.
- Xander Schauffele: 67.3
- Justin Thomas: 68.0
- Rory McIlroy: 68.1
- Viktor Hovland: 68.1
- Scottie Scheffler: 68.3
Starting in third place and four shots back is Schauffele, and if there's anyone that can make up the deficit based on their form at East Lake, it's him. The 2017 FedExCup champion also finished runner-up in 2020 but was unable to make up a seven-shot deficit to start the week. Schauffele loves the Bermuda greens at East Lake, where he's gaining .84 strokes putting over 20 career rounds. Starting six back is McIlroy, who has used his elite driving play for success at the course as he's led the field in strokes-gained off-the-tee in three of his last five appearances at the event. McIlroy is coming off a top-10 at the BMW Championship in which he led the field in strokes-gained tee-to-green but lost 4.6 shots on the putting surface.
Drive For Show
The following five golfers, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes off the tee over their last 20 rounds.
Scheffler starts the week with a two-shot lead and that's not the only thing to like about him this week as he's the lone player to show up on both lists. In 2020, he led the field in strokes-gained approach en route to posting the second lowest score that week. He's also been dominant with his driver as of late, which should be a key advantage on East Lake's tight fairways. Beginning much farther down the leaderboard at one-under is Conners, who is always a prime target at a place that requires length and accuracy with driver as he's averaging over 300 yards off-the-tee while ranking 21st this season in driving accuracy. He's gaining a solid .67 strokes off-the-tee in his two TOUR Championship appearances.
TOUR Championship Bets: Outright Picks
How many players can realistically win this week? Most likely, it's only a handful. Last year, Kevin Na started eight back of the lead and shot 14-under (tied for the lowest gross with Jon Rahm) but still came up five short of Cantlay. Anyone starting less than four-under would need a record-breaking performance to become the FedExCup champion. As a result, I'm mainly looking at bets that don't factor in starting strokes to get better payout potential.
Justin Thomas (12-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Thomas has a great track record at East Lake with two runner-up finishes, one of which was prior to the new format. At three-under to start the week, it's hard to imagine he'll be able to make up enough ground but is more than capable of posting the low gross. Thomas is an impressive third in strokes-gained tee-to-green this season.
Matt Fitzpatrick (18-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Fitzpatrick enters as the eight choice on the board -- not bad for a guy who has emerged as an elite driver and is one of the best all-around golfers in the world. He's making his first trip to East Lake but there's little reason to think his game won't fit the course, as he plays his best golf under difficult setups.
Billy Horschel (35-1 Without Starting Strokes)
Horschel has an affinity for the event, winning it in 2014 and coming up two short of Tiger's triumph in 2018. He's in the midst of his best season statistically over the last four years and will look to use his strengths of driving accuracy and short game to work his way up the leaderboard this week.
TOUR Championship Bets: Other Wagers
Top-5 Finish With Starting Strokes: 11-2
Niemann is probably going to have to shoot around 12-under to get into the top five, which should be within his range of outcomes. While he hasn't shown much previously at East Lake, he comes in with great form having gained 1.68 strokes from tee-to-green per round during the FedEx Cup Playoffs thus far.
Top-5 Finish Without Starting Strokes: 7-1
Impressive to see Stallings qualify for his first TOUR Championship at the age of 37, but who is to say that the momentum can't continue for another week? He's one of the hottest golfers on Tour with a top-15 finish in five of his last six starts.
Be sure to stay on top of this week's event with everything RotoWire has to offer including the latest PGA odds, the most up-to-date PGA injury report, the TOUR Championship tournament field, and our expansive PGA stats database.