Tour Championship: Fowler can land FedEx Cup jackpot in Atlanta

Rickie Fowler can round off a superb season by hitting the jackpot in Atlanta
Rickie Fowler can round off a superb season by hitting the jackpot in Atlanta

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and each-way tips for the FedEx Cup play-offs finale - the Tour Championship at East Lake...


Favourites: Back Rickie Fowler @ 12.011/1

"What we do know from Fowler these days is that when he’s in contention, he has that ability to hit stunning, tournament-defining shots. Quite simply, if Fowler wins the tournament, he wins the FedEx Cup and that $10m jackpot. The goal is clear."

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 4 places

Favourites: Back Rickie Fowler @ 12.011/1

It would easy and probably justified to put all this week's stake on Jason Day and be done with it.

He's won four of his last six tournaments and back-to-back victories in these FedEx Cup play-offs are commonplace. It's been done five times in the eight completed editions and three of those have been the final-two combo of BMW and Tour Championship. A Day win would make it four.

The 7/2 is obviously short though so I'm going to use similar logic and back Rickie Fowler at 11/1.

Seven times a player has won two of the four FedEx Cup play-off events in the same season and Fowler is in the running to make it eight after capturing the Deutsche Bank Championship.

That was his own third win of the season (two on the PGA Tour along with the European Tour's Scottish Open) so he's having a pretty spectacular campaign himself.

Around those wins Fowler has also finished runner-up in the Quicken Loans National, 10th in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and fourth in last week's BMW. His last eight rounds in the play-offs now read: 69-66-66-69-68-67-67-67.

Still, he sees room to grow and said at Conway Farms last week: "Just need to tighten a few things up, make sure the driving is on point. Been hitting my irons well, short game has been pretty good, and need to get the putter going again. I've made some good putts, but I need to make more."

What we do know from Fowler these days is that when he's in contention, he has that ability to hit stunning, tournament-defining shots.

We also know that he can shine at East Lake. After getting his eye in when T23 in 2012, the Californian shot 69-68-67 to be fourth with a round to go last year. He eventually had to settle for eighth spot after a 71 but it's not hard to envisage him getting even closer, and hopefully winning, this time.

One thing Fowler focused on at East Lake last year was playing the par 3s well. "Typically the guys that win here or play well here have a good par 3 performance week. That being because there's not very many par 5s. The par 3s have a little bit more of an impact on your score and if you're able to play those well, you can jump past a lot of guys in the way."

Fowler played them well last year and this season is 15th in Par 3 birdie or better leaders.

Finally, as he sits third in the FedEx Cup rankings, he controls his own destiny this week.

Quite simply, if Fowler wins the tournament, he wins the FedEx Cup and that $10m jackpot. The goal is clear. Go get it Rickie!


Mid-range 1: Back Paul Casey @ 51.050/1
Mid-range 2: Back Paul Casey to be first-round leader @ 34.033/1

Paul Casey's decision to focus on the PGA Tour this year has certainly paid off as he's reached the Tour Championship for just the second time in his career.

The first occasion was five years ago and he certainly took to the East Lake course, shooting 66-71-69-69 to finish in tied fourth place.

He arrives this time at 22nd on the FedEx Cup list and to win the jackpot he'd have to lift the trophy and rely on many other scenarios such as Jason Day finishing in a three-way tie for 13th or worse.

Realistically, Casey will just be trying to focus on winning the tournament and he's certainly due a victory after a season of near-misses.

The Englishman has lost play-offs at the Northern Trust Open and Travelers Championship while also finishing T3 at both the Honda Classic and the Wyndham Championship and T6 at The Masters.

Looking at those latter two events, the Wyndham came on another Donald Ross track while The Masters, of course, isn't too far from East Lake (both in Georgia) so there are some good form lines to suggest that Casey should go well.

His latest finish was T23 at the BMW Championship where he shot 67-69-71-68 so there were no signs of the sore back which caused him to pull out of the Deutsche Bank Championship a couple of weeks earlier.

Casey is 4th for greens in regulation this season (was ranked 1st in GIR at last week's BMW), 5th in ball-striking and 11th in scoring average so has some great numbers.

Beyond the stats, he's also put his strong year down to limiting his schedule after becoming a father.

"I dearly love the position I'm in right now and loving my life on and off the golf course," he said at The Barclays. "With Lex, who is almost a year old now, I've certainly not over-practised. Spent a lot more time at home. And it's worked out very, very well. I've struck a nice balance.

"I want to get to Atlanta. I want a chance to win the FedEx Cup. I had the chance in 2010 and would dearly love that again."

Well, he's there and he has that chance and, at 50/1, he looks a nice price too.

Also have an each-way bet on Casey being first-round leader.

For starters, he did just that on his debut at East Lake in 2010 when he topped the round one standings after a 66.

More recently, his last nine R1 scores read: 67-74-66-66-70-68-70-66-67.

He's only been worse than T27 after the opening day once in that period while he was 5th after Thursday's action at The Barclays and 6th after R1 of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Back in January, Casey opened with a 62 to be the first-round leader at the Sony Open.

He often comes out of the gate fast; back him to do so again.


Long-shot: Back Scott Piercy to be first-round leader @ 51.050/1

With just two players at three-figure odds this week, I'm limited to Sangmoon Bae and Steven Bowditch if I apply the usual long-shot rules of 100/1 more or higher. I don't really fancy either.

So, instead, I'll pick out someone outside the top 20 in the betting and back him each-way for first-round leader instead.

I think there are too many players who will beat Scott Piercy over four rounds but in a one-lap sprint he could outpace them all.

The American was the day one leader after 18 holes of April's Houston Open following a 63, and an opening 68 in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits also saw him nestled in the top three at the end of Thursday's play.

Piercy also kicked off with a 67 at the BMW last week to sit 11th after R1 and fuelled his confidence by finishing fourth there.

With just 29 rivals to beat this week, topping the day one leaderboard is easier than normal even though these are (mostly) the best players of the year he's up against of course.

Piercy has always been able to shoot low and in recent times closed with a pair of 65s to win July's Barbasol Championship while he also shot a second-round 65 last week.

In his one previous start at East Lake in 2012, he posted a 67 in his first round and that put him in tied third spot after day one so he already has experience of doing what we're asking him to achieve now.

Assessing his year at last week's BMW, Piercy reflected: "For me it feels like it's been a really up-and-down year. I win, I have a second, a couple top 10s, and then the weeks in between, there will be flashes of brilliance and then a 60th finish, a 50th finish. So for me I feel like when it's been good, it's been really good, and when it's been off, it's been a little frustrating for me."

Those words are ideal really. To have success in this market you want a volatile player capable of a really low one rather than a steady-eddie churning out a string of 68s.

Understandably, we won't get his outright odds of 66/1 but the 50/1 for 1st round leader is well worth taking on an in-form player.


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Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveTindallGolf


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