The Tour Championship has always been an exclusive event, and after a format change in 2018, it’s also one of the most unique on the PGA Tour.
Since its inception in 1987, the field has been limited to 30 golfers. From the inaugural tournament through 2006, the top-30 golfers on the earnings list were invited to attend. Since the inception of the FedEx Cup in 2007, the top-30 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings vie for the championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
Prior to 2019, only the top five in the FedEx Cup standings would be guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup with a win at the Tour Championship. Most famously, Tiger Woods won this event in 2018, but the Cup went to Justin Rose.
Now, the current format gives stroke advantages based on where golfers enter the event in the standings. The Tour Championship score factors in those advantages along with what the golfers shoot over 72 holes; this way, the tournament winner is also the FedEx Cup champion. It’s important to note that when betting on this event, the bonus strokes are factored in, so you’re wagering on the total score, not just what a golfer shoots on the course.
There’s a huge haul on the line here. Winning the tournament and the FedEx Cup means a $15 million bonus and a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Second place earns $5 million, and the top-eight finishers will all take home over $1 million in prize money.
The points paid out in the two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs are made to reward the winners of those two events. Patrick Cantlay (BMW Championship victor) and Tony Finau (The Northern Trust winner) go into the finale in the top-two spots in the standings and have the biggest advantage going in. The scoring bonuses are as follows, so this is essentially the leaderboard going into the tournament:
10 under: Patrick Cantlay
8 under: Tony Finau
7 under: Bryson DeChambeau
6 under: Jon Rahm
5 under: Cameron Smith
4 under: Justin Thomas, Harris English, Abraham Ancer, Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns
3 under: Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im, Viktor Hovland, Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson
2 under: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka
1 under: Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama, Stewart Cink, Joaquin Niemann, Scottie Scheffler
Even par: Daniel Berger, Erik van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia, Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed
Starting with some longshots, Reed qualified in the final spot despite missing the last two weeks’ worth of tournaments with pneumonia. He will be playing at East Lake but faces an uphill battle, looking up at everyone else on the scoreboard. Van Rooyen (+5500) is one of the biggest longshots, but he finished in the top-10 at both The Northern Trust and the BMW Championship. Stewart Cink is the longest of longshots at +7500, but he’s won twice on tour this year, marking his first victories since 2009.
Cantlay, with his two-stroke advantage, and Rahm, who was the top points-earner during the regular season, are the co-favorites at +400. East Lake has notoriously tough greens, but Cantlay was a master with the putter in the final round, including a six-hole playoff, to outlast DeChambeau to win the BMW Championship last week. Rahm led most of the way at the BMW Championship before faltering on the back nine on Sunday and was fourth in the 2020 Tour Championship. Also playing in Cantlay’s favor is that in seven of the last nine years, the Tour Championship winner also won one of the two FedEx Cup playoff events leading up to it. That stat also applies to Finau (+700) as well.
DeChambeau tees off Thursday at +450, perhaps with a chip on his shoulder after missing a couple good chances to win last week. The big hitter, however, hasn’t fared all too well at East Lake over the course of his career.
Those four have very low odds based on the advantage they get from the scoring system. Further down, Justin Thomas sits at +1500. He’s been a two-time runner-up at East Lake, including in 2020, and has a FedEx Cup title to his name. Dustin Johnson (+2000) is the defending champion, finishing at -21 last year and winning by three strokes over Thomas and Xander Schauffele. Johnson, however, has several golfers to jump on the leaderboard since he will be starting seven strokes behind Cantlay.
Schauffele, the Olympic gold medalist from last month’s Tokyo games, won here in 2017 and is a good value bet at +3000. He seems to perform well in limited-field, no-cut events, with the Olympics being proof.
Jordan Spieth’s bounce-back year puts him with a group of golfers at +2500. He won at the Valero Texas Open (his first victory since 2017) and was the runner-up at The Open Championship in July. He’s been pedestrian, however, in the first two events of the FedEx Cup playoffs, recording 73rd and 34th-place finishes in the last two weeks. But he does have a victory at East Lake, coming in 2015.
Rory McIlroy, also at +2500, is looking to be the first three-time FedEx Cup winner. He won in 2016 as well as in 2019, which was the first year under the new scoring system. Cameron Smith (+2500) lost to Finau in a playoff at The Northern Trust, so he could be starting this event much better position, but he yanked his drive on the first playoff hole out of bounds, which handed the tournament to Finau.
Here are the latest odds from JazzSports for the 2021 Tour Championship and the 2020-21 FedEx Cup champion. Remember, these odds take into account the starting strokes that each golfer has going into the event.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE 2021 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Rory McIlroy / Abraham Ancer||+2500|
|Harris English / Xander Schauffele||+3000|
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