The Tour Championship
Atlanta, GA – With $10,000,00 on the line this week in Atlanta, we can be assured all 30 players and caddies will be primed and fully focused on the task at hand. This week, Jordan Spieth can cement his Player of Year season, while a win by Jason Day will at least make that an interesting conversation. Will 2 Majors mean more than 6 wins and 1 Major? The debate is fun, but really, there is no comparison considering Jordan has also won 2 other events and finished 2nd at St. Andrews, and 4th at the PGA Championship. But this will certainly be the topic most discussed on radio and tv.
We are going to take a look at the 5 players everyone should be keeping an eye on this week, with no prediction of the final outcome of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. There are just too many variables to consider and as caddies, we are focused solely on winning this tournament.
As we look at the course here at East Lake Country Club, two stats jump out as the most important. Unlike most PGA venues, driving distance will not be the focal point. Greens in regulation and Putting Average have consistently been the two most important stats for the winner of this tournament since the course moved to Bermuda greens. This course is also comparable to Plainfield Country Club, home of The Barclays, and Sedgefield Country Club, home of the Wyndham Championship. Performance and these two courses can indicate possible success here in Atlanta.
Favorites to Win
Obviously, we would be fools to not put Jason Day as our #1 pick. His dominance the last two months is remarkable, and we don’t see that stopping this week. What he was able to do the first two days at Conway Farms showed exactly what complete control of your game can produce. He had that tournament won on Friday and everyone knew it.
Day climb up the rankings the last two months has been a direct reflection of the Aussie’s 6th Place ranking in Greens in Regulation and 2nd Place ranking in Putting Average. If he continues to hit greens and make putts at these rates, we really don’t see anyone taking the title from him.
Since his victory at St. Andrews, Zach Johnson has consistently put himself in contention. Placing 4th at The Barclays this year and closing out the BMW Championship with 5 straight birdies bodes well for Johnson and his veteran caddie, Damon Green. These two have been here before and the pressure of this tournament should have little effect on this team.
Zach’s ability to stick his wedges will give him an advantage here this week and places him 13th overall in Putting Average this year.
Henrik Stenson would be the guy everyone is talking about right now, if not for Jason Day. Having finished 2nd at both The Barclays & Deutsche Bank Championship and an 11th place finish at the BMW Championship, there is really only open player in the world better than Stenson at this moment.
Although Stenson’s Putting Average is only at 142nd, we feel that this is a direct reflection of his 1st place ranking in Green in Regulation. If you are hitting more greens from further out, you are more likely to have longer first putts. Either way, Stenson and his caddie Gareth Lord are playing great golf and there are no reasons to think that will stop this week. Add in the motivation that a win this week will garner the duo a $10,000,000 pay day, everything seems to line up for a great performance.
If there is anyone on Tour right now that has something to prove, it is Bill Haas. The controversy surrounding his President’s Cup selection should add some fuel to fire. What better way to shut everyone up, than to go out and win this tournament for the 2nd time in 4 years. Remember, Haas won this event in 2011 so he has good memories at East Lake. Never count out a guy that has something to prove.
Every year we watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament, we are reminded that the eventual champion had to overcome some hurdle. Well, there is no one in the field this week who has overcome a bigger hurdle than Harris English. Having finished 31st and 32nd the last two years and barely missing out on the Tour Championship, Harris and his caddie Brian Smith squeaked in at the 30th spot this year. English’s caddie, Brian Smith remarked following the BMW Championship, “Big hurdle for us to get over.” We expect to see a relaxed and confident Harris English this week.