PGA Tour set for season finale
The PGA Tour's year-long schedule that began last October in California and featured tournaments that sent players from Hawaii to Mexico to Canada to England and back comes to a furious finish this weekend at the Tour Championship.
The tournament, which begins on Thursday, will be contested at venerable East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The Tour Championship is the last of four events of the FedExCup Playoffs and the finale to the PGA Tour campaign for the 11th consecutive season. The top 30 players in the FedExCup standings following the BMW Championship are on hand this week chasing a total purse of $8.75 million and a chance at a $10 million bonus that comes with winning the playoffs.
Those who got cut after the three previous playoff events receive a little bit of the FedExCup's $35 million bonus pool. Those who finished Nos. 125-150 in the standings each will receive $32,000.
The top five players in the standings -- Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman of Australia and Jon Rahm of Spain -- are in control of their chances to win the championship and would claim the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.
The winner of the tournament walks away $11.575 million richer if he also wins the FedEx Cup.
"There's a lot of money on the line here, but that's not what I'm focused on -- I want to win the Tour Championship and the FedExCup and the amount I can win is just a nice bonus," Johnson said. "I'm in the position I wanted to be going into the Tour Championship. I'm feeling good, and I feel my golf game is in good form and this is a golf course I really enjoy playing."
Rory McIlroy, the 2016 FedExCup champion, finished 58th in the FedExCup standings and did not qualify to play this year in the Tour Championship. Brandt Snedeker (2012) and Spieth (2015) remain the only FedExCup champions to advance the following year to the Tour Championship.
"I feel right now the way I felt the first two legs of the playoffs (he finished second in both The Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championship) and if we were starting a major championship I would be pleased with where I'm at," Spieth said. "This is essentially a major and we've had a very hectic schedule heading into this week, so I'm doing what I can to conserve energy and take as much energy as I can into the tournament."
Spieth is the only past FedExCup champion who made it to East Lake this year and is looking to join Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) as the only two-time winner of the FedExCup. Spieth also finished tied for second in 2013.
"I remember here in 2015 I had one of my worst ball striking rounds of the year but I found a way to kind of scrape it around," Spieth said. "I just chipped and putted so well that I was able to win. I don't want to have to do that this week -- I haven't been making a putts outside of 10 feet this year as consistently as I did then."
Patrick Cantlay, at No. 78 heading into the FedExCup Playoffs, came from the furthest in the standings to reach the Tour Championship this year with playoff finishes of tied for 10th, tied for 13th and tied for ninth, respectively, to reach the season-ending event. Cantlay is also one of two rookies, joined by Xander Schauffele, in the field.
In the 11-year history of the FedExCup, 32 players have played their way into the Tour Championship via the BMW Championship, with Tony Finau, Sergio Garcia of Spain, Schauffele and Cantlay accomplishing the feat this season.
Finau chipped in from nearly 18 feet on the final hole of last week's BMW Championship for a 7-under 64, moving from No. 39 to No. 24 to secure his first trip to the Tour Championship.
Cantlay made an 11-foot birdie putt on the final hole to secure his ticket to East Lake.
Other perks of finishing inside the top 30 in the FedExCup standings include one-year invitations to the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the Players Championship and guaranteed spots in the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions. The top 30 also get invites to the CIMB Classic, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage, the Dean & Deluca Invitational and the Memorial Tournament.
Established in 1904, East Lake is the oldest golf course in the city of Atlanta. The Tour Championship was first played at the venue in 1998. Last year, the front and back nine holes at East Lake were switched reversed for this event, providing significantly more drama on the finishing holes from past years.
East Lake was the home course of World Golf Hall of Fame member Bobby Jones, and much of its clubhouse serves as a tribute to his accomplishments.