The 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs conclude this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Who will win the $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship? The GolfChannel.com writers make their picks.
By REX HOGGARD
You know the drill. If a player inside the top 5 on the FedEx Cup points list wins this week’s Tour Championship, the cup and cash prizes of $11.4 million are his. It’s simple math and, well ... a contrived reset. But that’s a column for another day.
So it stands to reason that our pick for FedEx Cup champion would go to a member of 2013’s “Big 5” – Matt Kuchar.
Kuchar, who has ranked inside the top 5 since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February, arrives at East Lake fifth in points following a solid, if not understated, playoff run that has included top-25 finishes at The Barclays (T-19), Deutsche Bank Championship (T-4) and BMW Championship (T-24).
Kooch also has plenty of history at East Lake. In 2010, he began the week of the finale first on the points list but struggled to a tie for 25th and watched Jim Furyk win the Tour Championship and clip him by 252 points in the season-ending cash grab.
Last year the Georgia Tech grad, who spent much of his college career practicing at East Lake, finished tied for 10th in Atlanta, but began the week outside the top 15 on the points list and came up short again.
This time, however, it seems the FedEx Cup stars and dollar signs are finally aligning in Kuchar’s favor.
By RYAN LAVNER
Tiger Woods. OK, so the FedEx Cup doesn’t always identify the best player of that particular season. In fact, it rarely does. But here’s thinking Woods will get what he deserves this week in Atlanta. Five wins, a serious contender in two majors, the clear-cut (for now) Player of the Year, Woods will begin the season finale with a 250-point head start in the race to capture golf’s biggest prize. That’s not a huge cushion, given the volatility of the points system, but Woods has traditionally fared well at East Lake. In his last five starts there, he has won once, been runner-up three times, and never finished worse than eighth. He’ll have a reasonable chance of capturing the FedEx Cup with a top-5 finish. Motivated to lock up the Player of the Year award, that shouldn’t be an issue.
By JASON SOBEL
I'm sticking with Zach Johnson.
That's right – sticking with him. As in, I picked him. To win the whole thing. Before the playoffs started. Even knowing he'd miss the first event for his brother's wedding.
Hey, for a guy hovering around last place in the Golf Channel fantasy standings all year, I've gotta gloat when I get the chance.
Johnson has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet over the last two months. His win at the BMW Championship moved him up to fourth in the FedEx Cup, safely inside that all-important top-five number which controls their own destiny.
Now he'll head to East Lake, a course which totally suits his game and one where he once posted a 60. I'm not sure that he can put together back-to-back wins, but I do think he'll play well enough to hold off the other contenders and win the $10 million grand prize.
Besides, even if I didn't, this is no time to jump off the bandwagon.
By WILL GRAY
Henrik Stenson. The Swede was my pick to win it all at the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and I see no reason to switch with one week to go. Stenson fell a bit off the radar after struggling at Liberty National but bounced back to win the Deutsche Bank Championship; I’m expecting a similar reversal of fortune from Stenson – and his new driver – after his tie for 33rd at Conway Farms.
Despite a frustrating week that led to him shattering a club in the 72nd fairway, Stenson’s season-long stats are among the best around: first on Tour in GIR percentage, second in total driving, fifth in scoring average. He has been among the best tee-to-green players for much of the summer and has proven time and again his ability to successfully take on fields filled with upper-echelon players.
Entering the week second in the overall standings behind Tiger Woods, Stenson has a myriad of scenarios through which he could leave Atlanta $10 million richer. Though it’s his first start on the difficult layout, that won’t stop the Swede from hoisting the FedEx Cup by Sunday evening to cap what has already been a remarkable comeback season.