2021 Tour Championship odds, preview, and course notes
The 2021 PGA Tour “super season” will conclude this week at the Tour Championship, with a $15 million cash prize and the FedEx Cup Playoffs title on the line.
The final leg of the three-tournament playoff, the Tour Championship will return to East Lake Golf Club for the 17th year and will host a field of the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings.
Last week’s BMW Championship winner, Patrick Cantlay (who defeated Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff) will get the benefit of beginning this weekend’s tournament at 10-under par.
Since 2019, the Tour Championship has adopted a handicapped leaderboard format, in which the player with the most FedEx Cup points will start at 10-under. The golfer with the second most FedEx Cup points, Tony Finau (+750), will begin at 8-under, while DeChambeau (+500) and Jon Rahm (+300) will tee off Thursday at 7-under and 6-under, respectively. The starting-strokes pattern continues down the FedEx Cup standings. Players ranked 26th through 30th begin at even par.
TOUR Championship 2021
Sun, September 5 2021, 8:00 PM
Tour Championship course notes and relevant statistics
Since 2004, East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta has been home to the 34-year-old Tour Championship.
Updated by Donald Ross in 1913, the par-70, 7,346-yard course includes 12 par 4s (between 389 and 520 yards), four par 3s (197 to 235 yards), and a pair of par 5s (525 and 590 yards). It also features zoysia fairways, Bermuda greens that average 6,000 square feet, and three inches of Bermuda rough.
Finding fairways and making putts on what should be slower-than-usual putting surfaces — because of Hurricane Ida rainfall earlier in the week — will be key to success.
In 2019, the first year of the starting-strokes format, Rory McIlroy (+2200) began the week at 5-under, five strokes behind leader Justin Thomas (+1600), but finished Sunday at 18-under, for a four-stroke victory over Xander Schauffele (+3300).
In 2020, Dustin Johnson began at 10-under in the first round and concluded the event at 21-under, with a three-stroke lead over runners-up Schauffele and Thomas.
The week of their victories, Johnson and McIlroy both ranked in the top two in driving distance. McIlroy also tied for third in driving accuracy, but Johnson finished 28th in that category.
Both golfers also tied for fifth in greens in regulation and ranked in the top seven in ball striking and strokes gained off the tee. They also ranked in the top nine in birdie or better conversion putting and in the top 12 in strokes gained approaching the green and proximity to the hole. Strokes gained around the green, bogey avoidance, and par 4 scoring were also statistics they excelled in at East Lake.
Best bets for 2021 Tour Championship
Any player starting with a seven-stroke deficit or greater Thursday is unlikely to see their name atop the leaderboard Sunday, but it is not impossible for one of those men to catch fire and make a push for second or third.
In 2020, Schauffele was seven strokes behind Johnson at the start of the opening round and finished second, with an aggregate score of 265 for the tournament.
Nonetheless, DJ's starting strokes kept him safe, even though the two-time major winner scored 269 for the event.
Rahm is the better choice among the co-favorites in this tournament. Though, if you're looking for more value, back Thomas.
The 28-year-old has struggled at times this season, by his standards, but he is still one of the best in the game. If he can find a bit more accuracy with his driver, he'll be in prime position to score a win at a course he loves to play.
Game on.— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) August 31, 2021
Thomas has tied for second twice (2017, 2020) at the Tour Championship and has finished no worse than seventh in five appearances.
Schauffele (+3300) is another golfer with excellent course history at East Lake and undoubtedly will be in contention for a top-five spot by the end of the weekend.
For a longer shot capable of cracking the top 10, look to Scottie Scheffler (+12500 to win). In his only appearance at East Lake, last season, Scheffler finished fifth, after he tied for second in greens in regulation and co-led in bogey avoidance at the tournament.
How to watch the 2021 Tour Championship
The winner of the 2021 Tour Championship will be crowned the FedEx Cup champion and will receive $15 million of a $60 million purse.
You can catch the action Thursday and Friday, 1-6 p.m. ET, Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. ET, and Sunday, noon to 1:30 p.m. ET, on the Golf Channel. CBS will provide live coverage Saturday, 2:30-7 p.m. ET, and Sunday, 1:30-6 p.m. ET.