FanDuel PGA: TOUR Championship Picks and Strategy

FanDuel PGA: TOUR Championship Picks and Strategy

This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.

TOUR Championship

Course: East Lake Golf Club (7,346 yards, par 70)
Purse: $75,000,000
Winner: $18,000,000 and FedExCup

Tournament Preview

Since its inception in 2007, every FedExCup title has been decided at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. The club was established back in 1904 and was the home course of Bobby Jones. The format for the TOUR Championship has changed over time. It was often hard for fans to keep track of all the projected points as the tournament was going on to see not only who would win the TOUR Championship, but who would take home the FedExCup trophy. In 2019, the PGA Tour elected to go with a starting strokes format based on FedExCup points earned throughout the season. This way it ensured the winner of the TOUR Championship would also win the FedExCup and eliminated the need for scanning point projections after every hole. The No. 1 seed in the FedExCup, who starts with a two-stroke lead at 10-under-par, has won each of the last two TOUR Championships despite not having the lowest aggregate score of 72 holes. Rory McIlroy won the first starting strokes tournament in 2019 as the No. 5 seed. He would begin the week at five-under-par and shoot the lowest aggregate score as well.

In 2022, the Player of the Year frontrunner Scottie Scheffler will be the No. 1 seed after his T3 finish at the BMW Championship. Starting two strokes behind him at 8-under-par will be the defending FedExCup Champion Patrick Cantlay, who was also able to defend his BMW Championship title last week at Wilmington Country Club. The Fedex St. Jude Championship winner Will Zalatoris was slated to be the No. 3 seed, but he will miss the next few months due to two herniated disks in his lower back. It's a shame that -- barring another WD -- he will finish 30th in the FedExCup because he was really one of the five best players in the world this year. East Lake wizard Xander Schauffele will start at 6-under-par as the No. 4 seed after a T3 finish in Wilmington, while fellow three-time winner this season Sam Burns will round out the top-five and begin his quest for the FedExCup at 5-under-par. After not playing last week at the BMW Championship due to what he called a nagging hip injury, Cameron Smith will tee it up at East Lake in a PGA Tour event for the what will likely be the last time for the foreseeable future with his expected defection to LIV Golf. Rory McIlroy will also begin the week at 4-under-par as the No. 7 seed and look to be the first player to win the FedExCup three times. Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, and Billy Horschel all have the chance to join McIlroy and Tiger Woods as the only multiple winners of the FedExCup, but will have to come from well back to do so.

Making the TOUR Championship is a goal for every player to start the season. It signifies that you were one of the best players that season and gets you into all the big events next season. There is also $75,000,000 in bonus money that will be paid out based on how these 29 players finish the TOUR Championship. First place will collect a cool $18,000,000, while every player that finishes top-10 will bank at least seven figures. Even if someone has the worst tournament of his life he is still guaranteed at least $500,000.

Recent Champions

2021 – Patrick Cantlay (-21)
2020 – Dustin Johnson (-21)
2019 – Rory McIlroy (-18)
2018 – Tiger Woods (-11)
2017 – Xander Schauffele (-12)
2016 – Rory McIlroy (-12)
2015 – Jordan Spieth (-9)
2014 – Billy Horschel (-11)
2013 – Henrik Stenson (-13)
2012 – Brandt Snedeker (-10)

Key Stats to Victory

  • SG: Tee-to-Green
  • GIR Percentage
  • Scrambling
  • Par-4 Scoring

Champion's Profile

Ever since Woods lit this place up in 2007 when he won by eight at 23-under-par, East Lake has been one of the most challenging courses on the PGA Tour no matter what the weather conditions are. The best 72-hole score to par over the last 14 years was 15-under-par by Schauffele in 2020, but he ended up three strokes shy of winner Dustin Johnson due to the starting strokes format. The challenge of East Lake starts from the tee. Most of the holes call you to shape the ball a certain direction and are defined by large trees. The Bermuda rough is not long, but very tough to control coming into the greens. We also won't see as much rollout in the fairways as we saw last week in Wilmington, which will lead to some longer iron shots into the greens.

Scrambling is also another big factor at East Lake. All parts of your short game will be tested here whether it be tight Bermuda lies on fairways short of the greens, thick Bermuda rough around the greens or deep bunkers, you need to be good in all of those challenges to be able to hoist the FedExCup. East Lake is a tough course to make a bunch of birdies on, so being able to get up-and-down goes a long way. This has been a tournament that statistically favors those that rank high in SG: Tee-to-Green over SG: Putting. Every year the top two or three in ball-striking for the week end up being the ones that are challenging for the title on Sunday.

FanDuel Value Picks

The Chalk

Patrick Cantlay ($12,700)

Cantlay was having a great year statistically, but just struggled to get into the winners circle in an individual event. Well that confidence is back at the end of the season again after he held off a number of world class names at the BMW Championship on Sunday. Cantlay ranked third in SG: Off-the-Tee, second in SG: Tee-to-Green and second in scrambling at Wilmington. All that bodes well for him as he looks for another victory at East Lake.

Xander Schauffele ($12,400)

Clearly East Lake suits Schauffele's eye considering his worst finish in five starts is a T7 and he owns an eye-popping scoring average of 67.3. The three-time winner this season will start only four back of the lead and from a statistical standpoint is great in all areas. An odd T57 in Memphis is his only finish outside the top 18 in his last 10 starts.

Justin Thomas ($10,700)

Thomas is another player who has a fantastic record at East Lake. In six career starts, he has two runner-up's and a worst finish of T7. It's no surprise given Thomas' ball-striking prowess and affinity for Bermuda. This season he ranks third in SG: Tee-to-Green, third in birdie average and first in par-4 scoring. Even after a few indifferent results recently, Thomas still has the ability to make a run on this course.

Sungjae Im ($10,600)

Im has now made the TOUR Championship in each of his four seasons on the PGA Tour. There is a lot to like about his game, as Im is gaining at least .25 strokes per round in all measured categories. The 24-year-old ranks top-11 this season in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Tee-to-Green, GIR percentage, scrambling and par-4 scoring average. Im has gone T2-T2-12th-T15 his last four starts.

Longer Shots with Value

Joaquin Niemann ($9,500)

Niemann has flown under the radar a bit, but his game is trending very nicely. The Genesis Invitational winner is coming off a T8 showing at the BMW Championship, which was his seventh top-25 in his last 10 starts. Niemann's ball striking has been tremendous this season, as he ranks 15th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 19th in SG: Approach and ninth in SG: Tee-to-Green. His short came can't be overlooked either, as he led the field in scrambling at Wilmington.

Hideki Matsuyama ($8,900)

I saw enough out of Matsuyama last week in Wilmington coming off the neck injury to take a chance on him at East Lake at a very nice price. Matsuyama ranks ninth in SG: Approach, 16th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 21st in scrambling, 14th in birdie average and 10th in par-4 scoring. This will be the ninth straight season that Matsuyama has made it to East Lake where he owns a pair of top-5s and five top-15 finishes.

Scott Stallings ($8,800)

There are some other heavy hitters in his group starting the week at three-under-par, but Stallings is way down the board compared to those players. You could easily make the case he has the best form of the bench as well coming off a solo second at the BMW Championship which was his fifth top-13 finish in his last six starts. Stallings ranked first in SG: Approach, third in SG: Tee-to-Green and second in GIR's at Wilmington.

Aaron Wise ($7,600)

Wise might have been the last man into the TOUR Championship, but he still has a great chance to make his way up the leaderboard over 72 holes. Wise is coming off his second top-15 in the last three weeks in Wilmington. He has missed just one cut in his last 11 starts, a stretch that includes seven top-27 finishes. Wise ranks top-26 on Tour in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, GIR percentage, birdie average and par-4 scoring average.

Strategy Tips This Week 

Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap

This and the WGC-Match Play are really the two most unique events of the year for DFS purposes. You have to recognize that you're essentially paying big money for a few extra shots if you want to take Scheffler or Cantlay. At the end of the day, your points for eagles, birdies, pars, etc. are going to make up a much larger portion of your total than finishing position. With only now 29 players at East Lake after Zalatoris' WD, you are going to be rostering over 20 percent of the field. Your best shot at cashing is to take a chance on a couple guys at even-par or a couple under and hope they can make some birdies and move up the leaderboard. Last year, Horschel entered as the No. 29 seed and shot 10-under over 72 holes to finish T9, which was the biggest move since the inception of the starting strokes format.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Ryan Andrade plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Ku_Bball_Fan, FanDuel: ku_bball_fan.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ryan  Andrade
Ryan has covered golf and college basketball for RotoWire since 2016. He has also written articles for ProGolfNow.com.
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