The Tour Championship preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
After an orgy of big money attritional golf we come to the mother lode for the Tour Championship at Eastlake CC, Atlanta.
We know the drill – 30 players – can’t lose if you’re top 5 in the Fed Ex points – 10 billion dollars to the winner – plus the actual winners prize.
There is also the not inconsiderable sideshow of the last Ryder Cup place up for grabs and Bubba seems to be the man clinging to some chance. He looked particularly and uncharacteristically gregarious at the BMW suggesting that he might have been currying favour with his fellow pros – the US selection policy having come down to a popularity contest. Good luck with that Bubba.
The dynamic scenarios around how and who has to do what to win are too tedious to get into here suffice to say Rory is 6th and that is a bit like 31st after the BMW.
Jordan won this last year and sits 7th and like the top six you couldn’t rule him out. Paul Casey is the surprise package, ironically hitting his best form for years bang on Ryder Cup time when he’s not eligible.
Eastlake hosts this event for the 16th time and that includes all ten Fed Ex finals. A Par 70 at 7,385 with the nines switched to give us a Par 5 finish (it was a Par 3) the 18th has produced just one eagle at each of the last three events so its possible someone could do it and take home the lot.
The course has undergone lots of small changes and now stands as the second longest Par 70 on tour outside the Majors. The rough is listed as 2.5 inches so hitting fairways is a must.
Jordan killed it on the greens last year (surprise) but with his somewhat wayward game and less than awesome putting this season you have to feel he is the lay at the top of the market despite having a 2nd and a win in his three outings. He has also shot an 80 here and you feel that he’ll get it going, only to drop away, then come again, but fall just short, as he has been doing of late.
The list of winners here suggests that its not power that is a pre-requisite rather accuracy and gaining the reward for hitting fairways. Speith, Sneds, Jimmy The F etc. Billy Horschel is a case in point as he was on fire his year but is hardly long in the Jason and Rory etc class.
Rory would be a serious candidate but for his price now being half what it was prior to The Barclays. Dustbin the same and Scott is 3rd in the GIR stats but his putting seems to let him down. Day strikes me as running on fumes with only his sheer class getting him through.
Paul Casey: 16/1
Emiliano Grillo: 45/1
Paul Casey is flying and comes here off the back of consecutive runners up. Unencumbered by the Ryder Cup and clearly having fun in the Play Offs its no surprise he’s doing well. Second on the list of GIR’s with 70.56 and with some healthy strokes gained putting stats over the last two events he’s this years Billy Horschel. Going back to the PGA when he hit 86.11% of the greens his play since then – tee to green – has been rock solid. Now he’s adding some positive putting numbers and in a restricted field at 16/1 he gets our vote.
Emiliano Grillo is the hot new thing from Argentina. A winner on Tour in his first full year he’s comfortably made the Tour Final and looks set to be a serial winner in years to come. As well as his win he finished second at The Barclays behind a rampant Rory. Grillo has got to where he is because he has a killer swing that results in 67% of fairways and 68% of greens. Better his current form exceeds these figures with only his putting letting him down. Tied for 13th at the PGA he posted a 0.905 strokes gained putting figure and then at The Barclays it was 1.255. So he can putt. His ball striking has got even better since then but he has subsequently posted two negative strokes gained putting figures. He seemed to make a change after The Barclays perhaps in search of something better but it hasn’t worked. We are risking a return to putting form but the chance seems warranted for such a sublime talent at such a huge price.