THIS week is the culmination of the PGA Tour Championships for the Fed-Ex Cup at the East Lake GC in Atlanta … and it looks like it’s going to be a thriller.
The East Lake has been the permanent home of this competition since 2004 and since 1998 there is only one person who has won it more than once – Phil Mickelson (2000 and 2009). The Tour Championship has in the past thrown up winners who were not an obvious selection, such as Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, Bill Haas, and Camillo Villegas.
Will this week be another surprise winner? I don’t think so. The top of the field is so strong and the way new world No.1 Jason Day is playing he will be a hot favourite and be hard to beat.
Jordan Spieth is getting his mojo back after two missed cuts and Rory McIlroy with his T4 last week is back in good form after his ankle injury. It would be great if they finished 1-2-3 in any order.
Day is a best 7-2 at Paddy Power, McIlroy 13-2 at Betfred and Spieth 9-1 at Betfred. As most people know I prefer to take bigger prices each-way although one of my choices in the 11-1 fifth favourite.
My first pick is Justin Rose. With six top 20s in his last seven outings and no worse than a sixth in his last three starts at East Lake the Englishman arrives with solid form. He is ninth in GIR with 70.70%, eighth in strokes gained:tee to green and if his putter is working there is no reason why he can't be up there at the finish.
Rickie Fowler has come into some great form recently with four top-10s from six, including winning the Deutsche Bank Championship when my tip Henrik Stenson went swimming on the 70th hole. With GIR just below 70% and driving accuracy around 68% in the past two tournaments his game seems to be on the way back. He hasn’t scored more than 69 in his last two outings and should improve on his eighth-placed finish here last year.
Zach Johnson has been up and down a bit since winning The Open at St Andrews but has played solid golf over the last few weeks. At the weekend he came storming back with a seven-under 64 after a third-round 72. With driving accuracy of 71.37% (7th), GIR of 68.34% and 13th in strokes gained:tee to green he definitely has the ability. Since East Lake changed to Bermuda grass he’s had mixed results here but I think that will change this week.
My final pick is Matt Kuchar, who since the US Open (T12) every alternate week has had a top-10 finish. As he had a bad week last week he should do well at East Lake (hell of a way to pick a winner I know). He hasn’t won this year and if he fails to win this weekend it will be the first time since 2011 he has failed to collect a Tour event title. That could just spur him on and with GIR and driving accuracy in the mid 60s and putting average of 1.732 (10th) he could just surprise a few.
Over on the European Tour the Porsche European Open is being played at the Bad Griesbach resort in Germany. It took me a long time to make my selection with this one but I am leaning toward Maximilian Kieffer. The 25-year-old German has hit some sort of form over the past couple of weeks and he got his maiden Tour win in his home country.
Maximilian Kieffer 1pt ew (35-1, Betfred)