Tour Championship Betting Preview
Brandt Snedeker is set to defend his title at the 2013 Tour Championship this week, as a limited field of 30 players will compete for the 2013 FedEx Cup and the $10 million first place prize at East Lake.
2013 Tour Championship Fact Sheet
- Course: East Lake Golf Course
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Yardage: 7,319 yards, par 70
- Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker
- Five Consensus Favourites: Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose
- Thursday – 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Friday – 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
- Saturday – 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 12:00 PM to 3:30 PM ET (NBC)
- Sunday – 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (NBC)
Key Storyline This Week
We’re in the final week of the 2013 PGA Tour season, and the $10 million FedEx Cup purse is up for grabs this week at East Lake. The FedEx Cup playoffs haven’t exactly been the success that the PGA Tour had hoped it would become when they introduced it a few years ago, but it does add a little bit of excitement to a time in the year when golf isn’t exactly in the forefront of people’s minds. The best players in the world are now playing later into the year, so it does give the tour a little bit of a boost. We started the playoffs with 125 players, and now we’re down to just 30 in the final event, all of whom have a chance to grab that enormous pay cheque, albeit some will have to do more than others. How big of a gap are we talking about? Tiger Woods is ranked first, while Dustin Johnson just barely got into the event in 30th position. Here’s what both guys can do to win the FedEx Cup, courtesy of PGATour.com:
- If he wins the TOUR Championship he wins the Cup
- Has a reasonable chance of winning with a top-5 finish
- Can finish as low as 29th and still have a mathematical chance of winning
- Wins the TOUR Championship and…
- No. 1 (Tiger Woods) finishes 29th* or worse
- No. 2 (Henrik Stenson) finishes in a three-way tie for 6th or worse
- No. 3 (Adam Scott) finishes T-4 or worse
- No. 4 (Zach Johnson) finishes T-3 or worse
- No. 5 (Matt Kuchar) finishes in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse
- No. 6 (Steve Stricker) finishes T-2 or worse
- *Tie for the FedExCup
You can see the rest of the scenarios at this link. Outside of that, it’s a chance to watch 30 of the best players in the world on one of the more difficult venues on the PGA Tour schedule.
East Lake Golf Course
East Lake was built in 1908 by Tom Bendelow, but has seen many changes through the years. From simple renovations to bigger redesigns, the course has been touched up four times since the original Bendelow design, but it has been a consistent fixture on the PGA Tour, housing this tournament every year since 2004, but also in 1998, 2000 and 2002. It also hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup and the 2001 U.S. Amateur, and is probably most famously known as Bobby Jones’ home course.
At over 7,300 yards and a par-70, East Lake is a beast and has become one of the most difficult courses that the tour visits each year. After Tiger Woods destroyed the course to the tune of 23-under 257, Rees Jones came in to redesign the track, most notably changing to Bermuda grass. In the five years since, the winning scores have been significantly higher, coming in at -7, -9, -8, -8 and -10. The two holes that should get the most attention are a pair of par-3’s.
The island sixth can play at 213 yards, and is usually severely exposed to wind that pushes balls towards the lake. Players can choose to bail out long into the rough or left into the bunker, but both can lead to difficult chips back onto the green.
The closing hole is also a par-3, which many players and fans despise, but it has also typically played as one of the toughest holes on the course. The water isn’t in play, but at 235 yards into the wind, it can be a very long hole. Miss right or left and it’s in one of the greenside bunkers. Even if the approach finds the putting surface, players will find the most severely sloped green on the course, which has led to many three putts over the years.
Thoughts On The Favourites
- Tiger Woods: Like most places, Tiger has a great track record at East Lake, finishing inside the top-20 in each of his starts, and inside the top-10 in seven of eight appearances, including his win back in 2007. Coming off of a decent performance at the BMW which was marred by a bit of an up-and-down finish on Monday.
- Adam Scott: Scott won here back in 2006, but outside of that, he’s seen mixed results. We really shouldn’t be surprised, as that’s pretty much what Scott does, as he’s not the most consistent player out there. Tied for 28th last week at the BMW, and if you believe in geographical significance, remember that he won the Masters in the Georgia area a few months ago.
- Henrik Stenson: It’s hard to believe it with the way he’s played this season, but Stenson is one of eight players in the field this week that has never played East Lake as a professional. That’s usually a bad omen, at least from a gambling standpoint, so I’m staying away. Never had it last week at the BMW, but didn’t play poorly either.
- Phil Mickelson: Wins here in 2000 and 2009, Lefty has been pretty consistent in his performance at East Lake, never finishing worse than 22nd in ten trips to the course. Keep in mind that he’s not exactly on a run of good form here, but as always, you can never be surprised if he just starts to play well, especially at a course where he’s had a good bit of success.
- Justin Rose: Finished as the runner-up to Snedeker last year, and has generally faired pretty well here in the past. In his last 20 rounds, Rose has been over 72 just once, and that was his uncharacteristically bad 77 in the third round of the PGA.
Hunter Mahan (Best Odds 20-1 at Paddy Power)
Mahan’s got a good track record at East Lake, including a runner-up finish to Bill Haas, plus he’s coming off of a good finish last week at the BMW where he ended up tied for 4th. He’s had a decent year in 2013, but hasn’t picked up a victory since Houston last year. He’s a pretty streaky player, and you could be catching him on the upswing.
Luke Donald (Best Odds 20-1 at Betfred)
To say Donald has had a bad year would be an understatement, but he looked a lot better last week at Conway Farms. Granted, that could be because he’s a member at the course, but I’m not putting all of the performance on that one fact. His run at East Lake is pretty incredible too, having finished no worse than third in each of the last three years. In 24 career rounds at the course, Donald has been over par just six times.
Brandt Snedeker (Best Odds 22-1 at Stan James)
Snedeker’s been up and down all year, which would explain why he’s actually in tenth place in the FedEx Cup despite a pair of victories on the season. He was solid all week at the BMW, ending up inside the top-10 after an opening round 63. Just 3 of his last 32 rounds have been above 72, and don’t forget that he won the tournament here last year.
Jason Day (Best Odds 23-1 at Betfair)
Day has top-25 finishes in each of the last four events, including a T-4 last week at the BMW. He’s got more talent than pretty much anyone in the field, and he did finish tied for sixth here last year.
Charl Schwartzel (Best Odds 33-1 at Ladbrokes)
Schwartzel has never played East Lake before, which some people would be surprised at, but keep in mind that he’s played a lot of tournaments in Europe over the first part of his career. Tied for eighth last week at Conway Farms, so I’m thinking he could be getting hot again, and when he’s hot, there are few in the world better than him. Slightly concerned about lack of course experience, but love the price of 33-1.