FedEx Cup and PGA Tour reach climax
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2013 PGA Tour Championship | Preview | 18 Sep 2013
The Championship has bought together the leading 30 players from the season long FedEx Cup points table, that group determined at the completion of the BMW Championship in Chicago last Monday.
Eight players get to play the event for the very first time this week highlighting either a much better year for them or confirming their huge potential as newcomers to the PGA Tour.
The leading five players in the standings, Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar all control their own destiny in terms of the chase for the FedEx Cup. A win by any of those five will assure them of not only the FedEx Cup but the US$10 million in bonus money.
Of that group Woods and Scott are the only two from that list who have won the event previously although Johnson has had several good finishes including when runner-up to Woods in 2007.
For the balance of the field, even for the 30th ranked entrant, a win would certainly assist their cause but they would be reliant of the performance of others in order to win the first bonus prize.
Bonuses all the way down the list ensure that just making the final is financially rewarding in itself. A start in the event guarantees a US$175,000 bonus in addition to any prize-money won in the event itself that money increasing through to $US500,000 for the 10th placed player in the FedEx Cup list at week’s end, US$1 million for fifth, US$1.5 million for 4th, US$2 million for 3rd, US$3 million for runner-up and US$10 million for the winner.
Those monies are of course in addition to any money from the US$8 million purse for this week’s event itself.
Woods is a two time winner and four time runner-up, most of those finishes at this venue. There is no doubt that Woods is hard to pick at the moment in terms of consistency but his record is not all bad and with five wins this season and as the world number one he starts the deserving favourite.
Henrik Stenson gets to play this event for the very first occasion but has been such a feature in recent elite events he could do well despite that. The issue with Stenson is that he appeared to be suffering a little from fatigue last week in Chicago after being in contention so often of late and was a little disappointing. If he can lift for one more event then he stands a chance to finish off what has been his best season in style.
Adam Scott is a former winner of this event (2006) at East Lake but despite a brilliant season his last two events have been well below his best. Scott is the world number two however and like Stenson has a chance to convert his great season into something even more special with a win. Such a victory would take Scott’s PGA Tour earning for 2013 beyond US$6 million along with the US$10 million bonus. Nice work if you can get it!
Zach Johnson has been in great form of late even before his win last week. He has recorded six top tens in his last seven PGA Tour starts including last week’s win and importantly has played this venue well enough for him to be a winning chance once again.
Matt Kuchar might not have been at his absolute peak in recent starts but he has not been far short of it. He has not missed a cut in 13 months and although he has nothing to boast about in his three starts in this event he is such a good and consistent player now he could yet be a chance this week.
Brandt Snedeker was much improved last week after three or four events where he struggled to produce the form he displayed earlier in the year. Snedeker is the defending champion and also played solidly in his first appearance in the event the previous year.
Steve Stricker has been simply superb this season and although he has not won in 20 months he has been there or thereabouts so often he could again do well. The issue for Stricker is that he has not played this venue particularly well with only one top ten in his last seven starts at East Lake.
Luke Donald might have come right at just the right time. Donald just scrapped into the field with a 4th place finish at last week’s BMW Championship at his home course at Conway Farms and with a very good record in this event he stands some sort of chance of an upset. Donald has been inside the top five in four of his last five starts in this event.
Hunter Mahan has played this event well in each of the last two years and continues to play the big events well. He was a little distracted following the birth of his first child a few weeks ago but a 4th place finish last week in Chicago suggest that his mind is back on the job.
Jason Day is another to have played well last week and appears on the verge of his second PGA Tour victory. Day was 6th two years ago and 17th in 2010 and just seems to be peaking.
Can we give Sergio Garcia one more chance? Garcia has been so consistent in the last eighteen months or so but has struggled to finish events off. He did finish runner-up in this event in 2008 and 4th in 2007 and in his only other start since finished 15th last year. He deserves a victory and if he was to finish of the year in style then many would say there would be some justice.
The last event of the 2013 PGA Tour season promises something very special.