The PGA Tour wraps up another competitive and lucrative season this week as it visits East Lake Golf Club for the 2023 Tour Championship. The winner of the Tour Championship will also win the FedEx Cup and the $18 million payout that comes with it. Last place will take home $500,000 at the end of the week, which is nothing to shake a stick at.
East Lake Golf Club will play as a Par 70, 7,346 yard layout for this year’s edition of the Tour Championship. The course was originally designed by Tom Bendelow and served as the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones. Following this year’s tournament, East Lake will be undergoing a major overhaul, courtesy of architect Andrew Green, who will have the course primed and ready to go again for next year’s season finale.
Last year’s edition was won by Rory McIlroy, who came from six strokes back on the final day to beat Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im by one strokes to win his third Tour Championship and third FedEx Cup. The event begins with a staggered start based off of the FedEx Cup standings entering this week. Scottie Scheffler will open up with a two stroke lead over Viktor Hovland, with Rory McIlroy sitting three strokes back, Jon Rahm four back, and Lucas Glover five back.
Player to Fade:
It’s tough to fade a player who is coming off of back-to-back top 10 finishes, but that’s what we are going to do this week with Corey Conners. Conners has had a solid season, with 1 win, 5 top 10’s, and 14 top 25 finishes in 23 starts, but East Lake has proven to be a conundrum for him in his career, as he has yet to register a top 20 finish here in 3 Tour Championship starts. We don’t expect things to change this week, as we predict that Conners will finish outside the top 20 here yet again.
It’s tough to call anyone in this field a dark horse, but we believe that Russell Henley may be the epitome of that right now. Henley comes into the Tour Championship sitting 12th in the FedEx Cup standings, thanks to 1 win, 5 top 10’s, and 12 top 25’s in 23 starts this season. Henley has been sneaky good of late, entering this week on the heels of 3 straight top 10 finishes. Henley may be making his first start at East Lake since 2017, but his track record here is quite solid, finishing in the top 12 in both of his prior appearances. He may be starting too far back to be a legitimate threat for the win, but a top 10 finish would be the perfect bow on a resurgent season for Henley.
The defending FedEx Cup champion, McIlroy is having arguably the most consistent season of his career, with 2 wins and 12 top 10’s in 17 starts. A three time winner of the FedEx Cup, McIlroy’s track record at East Lake is second to none, with 3 wins and 7 top 10’s in 9 Tour Championship starts. Ranking inside the top 10 in 5 of the 6 major Strokes Gained categories, McIlroy’s game is solid across the board this season. McIlroy comes into the Tour Championship with 9 straight top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour and will start the tournament just 3 strokes behind Scottie Scheffler. McIlroy will be a threat to win his fourth FedEx Cup and Tour Championship this week, but a top 10 finish is a lock.
Scottie Scheffler is having a season for the ages, with 2 wins, 16 top 10’s, 20 top 25’s, and 0 missed cuts in 22 starts, as well as a cool $21,014,342 in prize money. Scheffler was the leader coming into the Tour Championship last year and would have held on for the victory if not for an amazing final day charge from Rory McIlroy. Even so, Scheffler has had 2 top 5 finishes in 3 career trips to East Lake and his game is firing on nearly all cylinder right now, ranking 1st in 4 of the 6 major Strokes Gained categories. Scheffler has had all of this success this season in spite of a balky putter, ranking 145th in Strokes Gained: Putting. If Scheffler can have a half decent putting week, he will be tough to beat. We predict that Scottie Scheffler will find redemption at East Lake this week and take home the Tour Championship, the FedEx Cup, and an $18 million payday!