Tour Championship: In-form Reed to deliver in FedEx final

Patrick Reed ticks plenty of boxes for Steve this week
Patrick Reed ticks plenty of boxes for Steve this week

Steve Rawlings has everything you need to know for a winning bet at the Tour Championship where he fancies Patrick Reed to bring his fine form to the FedEx Cup final...

"Reed won the Wyndham Championship in 2013, which is a big plus, he sits inside the first five in the standings, which again is a huge positive, and he's one of only three men trying to win two of the four FedEx Cup events - something that's happened seven times previously. The last three winners of this event have sat second on the FedEx Cup standings coming into this week and that's exactly where Reed is."

Tournament History

Tom Watson won the first edition of the Tour Championship in 1987, when it was known as the Nabisco Championship. Originally played in November, it was designed as a showcase event to round off the PGA Tour season with only the top-30 on the money list in attendance and the event saw its fair share of drama. The four editions that followed Watson' inaugural victory all went to a playoff and some stellar names are on the trophy but at the turn of the century, getting the very best in the world to turn up was proving difficult.

Nobody could really blame the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for not turning up. The majors were all done and dusted and they felt it was wind down time but something had to be done as it was starting to look a bit farcical. Having an event to showcase the year's stars when the stars weren't willing to line-up was a problem that needed solving and so the FedEx Cup Playoff Series was born.

First staged in 2007, the FedEx Cup Playoff Series consists of four events. The top-125 on the Fed-Ex Cup standings line-up in the first event of the series, The Barclays, and they're whittled down to 100 for the second event - the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top-70 in the standings then move on to the BMW Championship where we lose another 40 and then, after a week to recuperate, the top-30 in the standings play for the FedEx Cup in this event.

After the first two FedEx Cup Series' turned into damp squibs, with Tiger Woods in 2007 and Vijay Singh in 2008 entering the Tour Championship with unassailable leads, the format was tweaked to make it more competitive. The scores are reset before the Tour Championship and if any of the top-five in the standings win the Tour Championship, they'll also win the FedEx Cup. It's a little more complicated for those ranked 6-30 but they can still win the FedEx Cup if others above them perform poorly. It's more unlikely the further down the standings you begin the week though and Charl Schwartzel in 30th place needs all sorts of help from those above him.

Here's a link to all the different scenarios of how each of the 30 can win the FedEx Cup.

The changes made have had the desired effect and the last six Tour Championship winners have also won the FedEx Cup.

Initially a nomadic event, taking in such splendours as Pinehurst, Pebble Beach and Hilton Head, to name but three, the Tour Championship has found its permanent home at East Lake and that's been the venue since 2004.


First Nine FedEx Cup Winners

2007 - Tiger Woods
2008 - Vijay Singh
2009 - Tiger Woods
2010 - Jim Furyk
2011 - Bill Haas
2012 - Brandt Snedeker
2013 - Henrik Stenson
2014 - Billy Horschel
2015 - Jordan Spieth


Venue

East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia


Course Details

Par 70, 7,307 yards
Stroke index in 2015 - 70.38

Dating back to 1904, East Lake has been remodelled by some renowned architects over the years. In 1913 Donald Ross completely reworked the course and then George Cobb tinkered with the place before the 1963 Ryder Cup. The club was neglected after that though, when the majority of its members switched to nearby Atlanta Athletic Club, but it was restored once again in 1994 by Rees Jones and it's thrived ever since.

In 2007, Zach Johnson shot the course record of 60 and Tiger Woods amassed an incredible 23 under-par total in the same year but it's been much tougher since, thanks to a change to the greens. With a move in the calendar to September, the committee chose to change the greens to Bermuda and the effect had been dramatic. The scoring has been much tougher but three of the last four winners have managed to get to double-figures under-par.


Weather Forecast


TV Coverage

Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting on Thursday


Last Five Winners

2015 - Jordan Spieth -9
2014 - Billy Horschel -11
2013 - Henrik Stenson -13
2012 - Brandt Snedeker -10
2011 - Bill Haas -8 (playoff)


What Will it Take to Win The Tour Championship?

In contrast to the last two events, which very much suited the longer hitters, Driving Accuracy is far more important than Driving Distance at East Lake.

Last year's winner, Jordan Spieth, was the fifth in six years to rank outside the top-ten for DD and the odd man out, Bill Haas, only ranked ninth. Spieth ranked seventh for Driving Accuracy and he was sixth winner in seven years to rank inside the top-eight for that stat so straight trumps long on this track.

Spieth ranked ninth for Greens In Regulation so Haas (who ranked 11th in 2011) is the only winner in 16 renewals at East Lake to rank outside the top-ten for GIR and six of the last 11 to succeed ranked number one for that stat so it's an important indicator.

Jordan's Putting Average ranking was only ninth and that was quite high given seven of the previous ten winners had ranked first, second or third, but then his GIR ranking was higher than most winners too. He did however rank number one for Scrambling as well as first for Strokes Gained Putting so it was his incredible game around the greens that won the day.


Is There an Angle In?

Form at other Donald Ross courses often transfers well so check out the result of The Barclays at Plainfield last year, the 2013 USPGA Championship result from Oak Hill Country Club, the 2010 and 2011 renewals of the AT & T National at Aronimink and consider also results at Pinehurst Country Club, which hosted the US Open in 1999, 2005 and again in 2014 but concentrate your efforts hardest on the Wyndham Championship as that has by some distance, been the best guide.

Now that this venue and Sedgefield Country Club, home of the Wyndham, both have Bermuda greens, form at the two events should crossover very nicely and that's been the case over the last couple of years. Last year's winner, Jordan Spieth, was been beaten in a playoff at the Wyndham, Webb Simpson, who finished fourth 2013, is a former winner of the event and Justin Rose, who has recent form figures reading 2-6-4-2 in this event has lots of Donald Ross form, including a fifth-place finish at the Wyndham and a win in the AT & T National at Aronimink.

In 2012, three of the first five home here had all previously won the Wyndham and Luke Donald, who finished third, finished runner-up in the Wyndham this year. And to cement the correlation even further - check out the result of the 2015 renewal of the Wyndham Championship - 2008 Tour Championship winner, Villegas, beat the 2011 winner, Haas, with the 2012 winner, Brandt Snedeker, back in a tie for 5th!


Is There an Identikit Winner?

Strong current form really has been the key here. As already stated, the last six winners of the Tour Championship have also won the FedEx Cup and the last four winners all began the week inside the top-five in the standings so they were all in red-hot form. In fact, the last three winners began the week ranking second in the FedEx Cup standings.

Prior to the final round 12 months ago, Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler sat first, second and third on the leaderboard, having begun the week ranked second, fourth and third in the series standings. The incentive of winning the big bucks most definitely has the top-five focussed and ready to roll.

Being in the top-five has been a big plus so that's one positive for Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey. Johnson and Reed tick another trends box - in each of the last four years, and on seven occasions in total, someone has won two FedEx Cup Playoff events.


In-Play Tactics

Stenson, in 2013, and Billy Horschel, a year later, both won here wire-to-wire and Spieth was always there or thereabouts last year. He sat five off the lead in fifth after round one, was three adrift in second at halfway and in front with a round to go but a fast start isn't the be all and end all and winners can come from some way off the pace.

Phil Mickelson was seven back and in 26th place after an opening round of 73 before going on to win in 2009 and like 2012 winner, Snedeker, and the 2008 champ, Villegas, he was five adrift at the halfway stage. Bill Haas was three off the lead with a round to go in 2011, Lefty was still four back, and Villegas made up a five stroke deficit in the final round before beating Sergio Garcia in a playoff.


Market Leaders

Dustin Johnson bids to become the fourth man to do the BMW Championship-Tour Championship double. Tiger Woods, in 2007, Villegas a year later, and Billy Horschel, in 2014, have all won the last two FedEx Cup events but I'm not convinced DJ is worth supporting this week.

Johnson has won three FedEx Cup events now and on the two previous occasions he's headed to East Lake with a chance of winning the series he's been very disappointing. After winning the BMW Championship for a first time in he was a well-beaten 22nd here and in 2011, after he'd won The Barclays, he finished one place worse. His last three appearances have yielded form figures that read 10-5-5 but he's never really looked like winning here and I'm not sure it's his sort of venue.

In company with Johnson, Rory McIlroy has also won three FedEx Cup Series events (they're the only two, other than Tiger, to have won more than two) and also like Johnson, he's flopped here when holding a chance to win the series. Having won both the Deutsche Bank and the BMW in 2012, Rory came to East Lake with a great chance to take the pot but he could only finish 10th. In his only two other appearances, he finished runner-up here in 2014 and 15th in 2016 so it's hard to know what to expect.

Although only sixth on the standings and with his fate in the hands of others, Rory still has a great chance to win the series. As long as DJ finishes tied second or worse, McIlroy would be triumphant. He'll be desperate to end what's been a fairly disappointing year in style but I'm not convinced he's value either. He was sensational when winning the Deutsche Bank Championship in his penultimate start but I have to wonder if that marvellous week with the putter was a flash in the pan. He ranked number one in Boston, averaging 1.6, but his Putting Average climbed to 1.85 in the BMW Championship last time out where he ranked 64th of 70, finishing 42nd.

Jordan Spieth, who's seventh in the standings, has a realistic chance of becoming only the second man to win the FedEx Cup twice (Tiger won it in 2007 and 2009) and the first to win it two years in-a-row. He plays East Lake well and has form figures here reading 2-27-1. He putted better than he's done for weeks last time out and I wouldn't put anyone off him.

Jason Day's form figures at East Lake read 17-6-14-4-10 so it's a bit of a mixed bag and not enough to encourage me to back him given he withdrew at the BMW last time out siting a back injury. He's threatened to win a number of times since he won the Players Championship in May but he's been a little disappointing in-contention and I'm happy to leave him out.

Adam Scott is a former winner of the event and he's hitting the ball sublimely. He's finished fourth in the first three Playoff events and he sits third in the standings. He has a great chance to win the Series for the first time but his putting leaves a lot to be desired and I can't back him because of it.


Selections

Patrick Reed was 19th on debut here in 2014 and he was only 27th last year so his course form figures are uninspiring, but he wasn't playing well in either year and he did at least shoot 67 in his first competitive round here which saw him sit just one off the lead.

Obviously, he'll have to improve considerably on those two efforts but he ticks the trends boxes nicely and I think he's worth chancing at a nice price. Reed won the Wyndham Championship in 2013, which is a big plus, he sits inside the first five in the standings, which again is a huge positive, and he's one of only three men trying to win two of the four FedEx Cup events - something that's happened seven times previously. The last three winners of this event have sat second on the FedEx Cup standings coming into this week and that's exactly where Reed is. I was happy to take 23.022/1.

My only other pick is this year's Wyndham Champion, Si-Woo Kim. The 21-year-old Korean is very much a small and speculative play on his East Lake debut but he's a very impressive young player who could be anything and he looks value at 80/1 with five places on the Sportsbook

Selections:
Patrick Reed @ 23.022/1
Si-Woo Kim @ 80/1 (Sportsbook each-way)


*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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