The 2014 PGA Tour season will reach its end this week in Atlanta. So who will leave East Lake with the Tour Championship - and maybe even the FedEx Cup? Our writers weigh in:
By RYAN LAVNER
Based on recent results he may need (at least) a four-shot lead heading into Sunday, but Jim Furyk is due for a victory – and returning to East Lake, site of his most recent title, certainly can’t hurt. Furyk doesn’t have off weeks anymore – he’s finished outside the top 25 just once since March – and he’s one of the few players who has a solid record at East Lake. Of the 29 players in the field, he has the best average finish (8.6) of any player who has teed it up there at least twice.
Like any good story, the FedEx Cup needs a finale that puts a bow on both the playoffs and the season. A victory by Furyk – who has come so close so often for so many years – would be a fitting finale.
By REX HOGGARD
In three short weeks Rory McIlroy has drifted from first on the FedEx Cup points list to fourth, some 579 points behind No. 1 Chris Kirk. During that same period, the Northern Irishman’s lead in the Official World Golf Ranking has gone from just over two average ranking points to 2.12.
Despite claims by the PGA Tour that the FedEx Cup is a season-long race, it is very much reactionary and ignores sustained play, a reality that has reduced McIlroy to an afterthought at this week’s finale at East Lake.
The FedEx Cup math seems to ignore the fact that McIlroy finished in the top 10 at two of the three playoff stops, with a tie for eighth at the BMW Championship and a tie for fifth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, and he didn’t exactly mail in his performance at the post-season opener in New Jersey (T-22).
The arithmetic also misses the fact that just two of his 12 post-season rounds have been over par and that, with two majors and a World Golf Championship on his resume this year, he’s the clear front-runner in the Player of the Year race.
McIlroy will win the Tour Championship and the What Have You Done for Me Lately Cup that eluded him in 2012 because he is still the best player in world, if not on the Tour.
By WILL GRAY
Give me Billy Horschel.
Give me the guy playing with sky-high confidence at the right time, coming off a bounce-back win at the BMW Championship. Give me the guy who has been solid tee-to-green all year, ranks fourth in GIR percentage, and is finally heating up on the greens as he heads to a course where tee-to-green consistency will be rewarded. Give me the guy who tied for seventh at East Lake a year ago in his Tour Championship debut, and give me the guy who, when he lifts both trophies on Sunday, will make Tom Watson wish that he had a Ryder Cup mulligan.
By JASON SOBEL
I'll take Jim Furyk to win the FedEx Cup this week. In a season where "been there, done that" has meant virtually nothing as far as predicting results, I'm playing one final hunch at East Lake.
If you've listened to players over the past week, you've heard grumbling about how tired they are after the recent grueling schedule.
So it makes some sense that I'll take a guy who never seems to wear out (supply your own 5-Hour Energy joke here) and still after 16 career wins has something to prove (no titles since winning this event four years ago will do that to a guy).
On the heels of Billy Horschel's redemption story of last week, Furyk picking up another $10 million check would be a redemption of his own. That motivation might be enough to give him the edge.
By RANDALL MELL
Billy Horschel calls himself a “momentum” player. He also likes to “stick it” to the critics who called him a choker at the Deutsche Bank. With “fatigue” a factor in this stretch run, nobody heads to Atlanta full of more momentum and gumption than Horschel. He’s coming off a T-2 and a win in these playoffs. He’s riding a hot putter and hot game. He was No. 1 in strokes gained putting winning the BMW Championship while also ranking No. 3 in hitting greens in regulation and No. 3 in scrambling. I like all of that leading Horschel to the FedEx Cup jackpot.