This article is part of our Weekly PGA Preview series.
East Lake GC
The PGA Tour heads to Atlanta as the 2022-2023 season comes to an end with the TOUR Championship.
It's been quite the year on Tour with a pair of first-time major winners, Jon Rahm picking up major No. 2, Brooks Koepka grabbing another major championship -- and of course, news of the LIV merger that may or may not happen. In the end, though, we've got the usual suspects near the top as we enter the season's final event. I could get into the failings of this particular format, but it is what it is, so let's just enjoy the golf and hope that Scottie Scheffler doesn't run away with this thing.
It's not that I'm rooting against Scheffler, but with a significant stroke lead on most of the field, he could have this thing wrapped up by Saturday if no one makes a charge. That is the one thing that's fun about this setup, though, seeing if anyone can make a run with a noticeable deficit from the start. In years past Xander Schauffele made the leaders sweat, but this year we've got a few players that could be a threat, like Rory McIlroy, who just last year overcame a six-stroke deficit to win the FedEx Cup.
Who will take home the trophy this year?
All odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of 9:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Scottie Scheffler (13-10)
Scheffler was in the same position last year and fell just short as McIlroy played a brilliant four rounds of golf and overcame a six-stroke deficit. This time around, McIlroy is only four strokes back, but after losing out the year before I have to think Scheffler will be better prepared to play with the advantage. Add in the fact that he nearly won last week and I think we have the makings of a Scheffler win. The question is, are the odds good enough to make a play? That's not an easy one to answer. I think he wins, but at this number there's not a lot of incentive to place a bet.
Rory McIlroy (33-10)
McIlroy is certainly capable of making up four strokes, but can he do it again? It's not just Scheffler in his way; Viktor Hovland is two strokes ahead and some pretty good golfers are just a stroke behind. Everything fell into place a year ago for McIlroy, but I don't see that happening again. He can win but the value just isn't there.
Viktor Hovland (5-1)
In this case you are getting 5-1 odds that Hovland can overcome a two-stroke deficit and hold off McIlroy and the gang behind him. It's not a great number, but Hovland can do it, especially if he plays like he did last week. I'm usually hesitant to back the player that won the week before, but this time of year is different -- or at least it feels different, with the shorter fields allowing more margin of error. As such, Hovland is in play this week at this price.
THE NEXT TIER
Patrick Cantlay (18-1)
With just 30 players in the field and the starting strokes in play, there aren't going to be a lot of decent options beyond the first few guys. Hopefully we can find some a few reasonable ones. Cantlay looks like a decent play, as he starts where McIlroy did this past year. He won here in 2021, and while he didn't shoot the best score that week, he was just three strokes off Jon Rahm, who went 14-under. Cantlay doesn't have a great track record in this event, but he finished top-7 in his two most recent starts here.
Xander Schauffele (35-1)
It's fair to wonder how many TOUR Championship titles Schauffele would have under his belt had they not changed the format. He always shows up at East Lake and has been a consistent threat. The problem this year, though, is that he will start well off the pace. He nearly won in a similar position in the past, but he has not won when starting strokes are involved. He certainly could, however, and if you're betting on one guy to make up the strokes Schauffele should be the guy.
Matt Fitzpatrick (60-1)
The difference between Fitzpatrick and Max Homa at 35-1 is, well, interesting. Both players start six strokes off the lead, and both played well this past week, so why is Fitzpatrick getting far more favorable odds? Homa shot 15-under last year in his only start here, so we don't know if that was his form at the time or if he really likes this course. Whatever the case, when you have players of a similar caliber and one has a price well above the other, go with the value.
Brian Harman (70-1)
I'm closing out the picks with a couple of guys that have shown an ability to either separate from the field or make a charge when no one else is doing so. Harman showed he can run away a month ago at the Open Championship. It's not something he's known for, but the fact that he did it on the biggest stage against the best players in the world is a sign he could do it at East Lake.
Tommy Fleetwood (80-1)
What are the odds that a guy who hasn't won on the PGA Tour can win the TOUR Championship? Well, not very good according to the oddsmakers. No one near the bottom of the betting board has a good chance to win, but if someone can make up a few strokes on day one it's a different ball game. While Fleetwood does not have a PGA Tour win, he's shown the ability to play well when others aren't, and if he can do that this week he could jump into the mix.
Highly-chosen Pick: Rory McIlroy - I know a lot of OAD pools have already finished due to issues with this week's payouts, but I can't imagine there are many players with Scheffler available in leagues that are still going, so I'm guessing McIlroy could be the most popular play.
Moderately-chosen Pick: Xander Schauffele - He's starting from a tough spot, but if there's anyone that can make up a lot of ground it's Schauffele. Like above, I'm not sure there are many OAD players with Schauffele at their disposal, but if you are one of them and you don't have any of the Big 3 left Schauffele is a solid play.
Lightly-chosen Pick: Matt Fitzpatrick - You can't go too far down the board if you want to peg the winner, and this is about as far as I would look, even if you are trying to get a leg up on the competition. Fitzpatrick won a major last year and won a designated event this season, so he's no stranger to getting on top of big fields. Like many in the field he will need to start fast to have a chance.
Buyer Beware: Jon Rahm - One of the names missing above is Rahm, who is not among the top three favorites and does not qualify as a mid-tier option at 17-2. I'm not sure why he's even listed at those odds, though. Rahm is starting in a decent spot, just four back of Scheffler, but he hasn't won on a level playing field for four months, so how is he supposed to do that here?
This Week: Rory McIlroy - It hasn't been a great year, but the one thing I did right was save McIlroy for this tournament. Would I rather have Scheffler? Of course, but how many OAD players still have Scheffler at their disposal? I would guess not many. That's probably the case for McIlroy as well, but if you have Rory make sure not to click on someone else. He loves winning this event and he's done it three times in his career. He hasn't gone back-to-back here, but maybe this is the week he pulls it off.
|BMW Championship||Jordan Spieth||T34||$122,000||$13,221,623|
|FedEx St. Jude Championship||Brian Harman||T31||$116,000||$13,099,623|
|Wyndham Championship||J.T. Poston||T7||$223,060||$12,983,623|
|3M Open||Hideki Matsuyama||T30||$46,744||$12,760,563|
|Open Championship||Cameron Smith||T33||$84,112||$12,713,819|
|Genesis Scottish Open||Ludvig Aberg||MC||$0||$12,629,707|
|John Deere Classic||Sepp Straka||1||$1,332,000||$12,629,707|
|Rocket Mortgage Classic||Chris Kirk||T14||$160,000||$11,297,707|
|Travelers Championship||Harris English||T60||$44,600||$11,137,707|
|U.S. Open||Brooks Koepka||T17||$284,167||$11,093,107|
|RBC Canadian Open||Tommy Fleetwood||2||$981,000||$10,808,940|
|The Memorial Tournament pres. by Workday||Collin Morikawa||WD||$0||$9,827,940|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||Justin Rose||T12||$178,350||$9,827,940|
|PGA Championship||Tony Finau||T72||$26,500||$9,649,590|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||Adam Scott||T8||$277,875||$9,623,090|
|Wells Fargo Championship||Matt Fitzpatrick||T35||$99,600||$9,345,215|
|Mexico Open||Brandon Wu||3||$531,300||$9,245,615|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||Billy Horschel||T11||$93,633||$8,714,315|
|RBC Heritage||Cameron Young||T51||$49,133||$8,620,682|
|Masters Tournament||Scottie Scheffler||T10||$432,000||$8,571,549|
|Valero Texas Open||Matt Kuchar||T3||$525,100||$8,139,549|
|WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play||Tyrrell Hatton||T59||$76,500||$7,614,449|
|Valspar Championship||Adam Hadwin||MC||$0||$7,537,949|
|THE PLAYERS Championship||Xander Schauffele||T19||$275,000||$7,537,949|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational pres. by Mastercard||Keith Mitchell||T24||$163,000||$7,262,949|
|The Honda Classic||Shane Lowry||T5||$288,120||$7,099,949|
|The Genesis Invitational||Max Homa||2||$2,180,000||$6,811,829|
|WM Phoenix Open||Jon Rahm||3||$1,380,000||$4,631,829|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Joel Dahmen||T41||$31,950||$3,251,829|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Jason Day||T7||$282,750||$3,219,879|
|The American Express||Sungjae Im||T18||$110,000||$2,9327,129|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Corey Conners||T12||$138,908||$2,827,129|
|Sentry Tournament of Champions||Russell Henley||T30||$208,500||$2,688,221|
|The RSM Classic||Mackenzie Hughes||MC||$0||$2,479,721|
|Cadence Bank Houston Open||Taylor Montgomery||T57||$19,236||$2,479,721|
|World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba||Tom Hoge||MC||$0||$2,460,485|
|Butterfield Bermuda Championship||Seamus Power||1||$1,170,000||$2,460,485|
|THE CJ CUP in South Carolina||Rickie Fowler||T34||$54,180||$1,290,485|
|ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP||Maverick McNealy||T12||$222,310||$1,236,305|
|Shriners Children's Open||Matthew NeSmith||T2||$712,000||$1,013,995|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Denny McCarthy||T39||$31,995||$301,995|
|Fortinet Championship||Sahith Theegala||T6||$270,000||$270,000|
|Wyndham Championship||J.T. Poston||5|
|3M Open||Tony Finau||4|
|Open Championship||Cameron Smith||3|
|Genesis Scottish Open||Thomas Detry||2|
|John Deere Classic||Zach Johnson||1|
|Rocket Mortgage Classic||Tom Kim||0|
|Travelers Championship||Brian Harman||4|
|U.S. Open||Brooks Koepka||3|
|RBC Canadian Open||Corey Conners||2|
|The Memorial Tournament pres. by Workday||Sahith Theegala||1|
|Charles Schwab Challenge||Jordan Spieth||0|
|PGA Championship||Xander Schauffele||14|
|AT&T Byron Nelson||K.H. Lee||13|
|Wells Fargo Championship||Rickie Fowler||12|
|Mexico Open||Jon Rahm||11|
|Zurich Classic of New Orleans||Patrick Cantlay||10|
|RBC Heritage||Cameron Young||9|
|Masters Tournament||Scottie Scheffler||8|
|Valero Texas Open||Matt Kuchar||7|
|Valspar Championship||Sam Burns||6|
|THE PLAYERS Championship||Justin Thomas||5|
|Arnold Palmer Invitational pres. by Mastercard||Tyrrell Hatton||4|
|The Honda Classic||Shane Lowry||3|
|The Genesis Invitational||Adam Scott||2|
|WM Phoenix Open||Hideki Matsuyama||1|
|AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am||Maverick McNealy||0|
|Farmers Insurance Open||Luke List||3|
|The American Express||Andrew Putnam||2|
|Sony Open in Hawaii||Harris English||1|
|The RSM Classic||Jason Day||0|
|Cadence Bank Houston Open||Russell Henley||0|
|World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba||Billy Horschel||4|
|Butterfield Bermuda Championship||Russell Knox||3|
|Shriners Children's Open||Matthew NeSmith||2|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Denny McCarthy||1|
|Fortinet Championship||Chez Reavie||0|