Expert Picks: Tour Championship


This week the FedEx Cup playoffs come to an end with the Tour Championship from East Lake GC. Bill Haas won last year's event, but did not make it into this year's field of 30 players and therefore will not have an opportunity to defend his title. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams and staff writer Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: The Ulsterman has won three of his last four starts, just three of his last 20 Tour rounds have been over par and he's peaking just in time to give U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III night sweats.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: After a pedestrian summer stretch, Lefty has finished T-4 and T-2 in his last two starts and has won twice at East Lake (2000 and 2009). Whatever he calls his new putting grip, it seems to be working.

Group 3: Brandt Snedeker: After enduring an inevitable letdown after getting the 'phone call' from Love and finishing T-37 at the BMW, Snedeker rebounds with a solid week in Atlanta before heading to his first Ryder Cup.

Group 4: Robert Garrigus: He played his way into East Lake for the first time with his tie for fourth at the BMW using a putter that was straight off the rack. As long as he is comfortable with the putter, he's dangerous.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Enough of this talk about Rory supplanting Tiger, who just may be the most overlooked three-time winner in history. I think he improves on his stellar record at East Lake, completes a clean sweep of the FedEx Cup playoffs and, for a few days at least, silences the growing chorus of critics.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: After struggling for months, Lefty finally seems to have turned it around, finishing in the top four in each of his past two playoff starts. A winner at East Lake in '00 and '09, he'll be in the mix come Sunday.

Group 3: Nick Watney: A win at the Tour Championship would make Watney $11.44 million richer. In other words, enough cash for him to forget what otherwise has been an unfulfilling season, save for The Barclays title.

Group 4: Jim Furyk: He's been in the top 13 at the Deutsche Bank and BMW, and what better way to prep for the Ryder Cup than at a venue at which he's had, ahem, a wealth of good memories (2010)? 

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Hmm...Tiger or Rory? Rory or Tiger? Flip a coin. Mine landed on the side of experience at East Lake.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: Just have this sneaking suspicion that Lefty could put a major dent in the Tiger/Rory headlines.

Group 3: Matt Kuchar: Loves the Tour Championship. Picking Kuchar in Group 3? Yes, please.

Group 4: Ryan Moore: Played some good golf in the FedEx Cup playoffs to reach the season finale.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Tiger Woods: Tiger and Rory dominate the FedEx Cup, with Tiger winning it all on a track where he excels. Woods has a win and three runner-up finishes in his last four East Lake starts.

Group 2: Steve Stricker: He'll show he's ready to team with Tiger again at the Ryder Cup next week.

Group 3: Matt Kuchar: Being back in Atlanta brings good vibes to the Georgia Tech alum.

Group 4: Robert Garrigus: On a nice little FedEx Cup roll with a lot of momentum and confidence going for him.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Tiger Woods: If anyone is going to put a stop to Rory's reign right now, it's Tiger. Woods won the inaugural FedEx Cup trophy here in 2007 and has finished runner-up four times at East Lake. He's in great form and controls his own destiny; it couldn't be a more perfect storm.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: I'm staying old school this week, following up Tiger by taking Phil in Group 2. He's made a massive move in the playoffs, his form peaking again in perfect time for a mega-event and just before the Ryder Cup. He's won twice at this venue, most recently in 2009.

Group 3: Brandt Snedeker: After riding the high of the captain's pick at the BMW Championship to a disappointing T-37 finish, he's ready to continue his hot streak that has him ranked fifth in points, meaning a win this week nets him the $10 million top prize.

Group 4: Jim Furyk: To the dismay of some, Furyk joins the U.S. squad next week at Medinah, but he could really shine this week at the Tour Championship. He's won here before, back in 2010, and is trending well after leading the field at the BMW Championship in strokes gained putting.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Tiger Woods: 2nd-2nd-1st-2nd. Those are his most recent results at East Lake (going back to 2004). And as I stated a few weeks ago, I'm not going to be beaten by him, so if any of my competition rides Rory McIlroy to victory, so be it.

Group 2: Phil Mickelson: Only two-time champion at East Lake in the field. Tied for fourth at TPC Boston and shared runner-up honors at Crooked Stick. 

Group 3: Sergio Garcia: Hasn't played East Lake since losing in a playoff in 2008, the first year the course was played with Bermuda greens. Won at Sedgefield a month ago, and then chased it with a T-3 at Bethpage. Always a dicey investment, but the pros outweigh the cons, especially in a limited field.

Group 4: Jim Furyk: Given the multiple heartbreaks this year, it would be poetic for him to emerge at East Lake. He won in his last appearance (2010) and has finished no worse than T-11 in his last five trips.