Tour Championship Preview – Jon Freeman

Later today at East Lake, Atlanta, 30 of the best golfers in the world will begin scrapping it out for the $10 million awarded to the winner of FedEx Cup.

These 30 are the ‘last men standing’ after a series of tournaments whittled down the numbers from an original 125. And in a complicated points scoring system, the winner of this final event, the Tour Championship, will not necessarily be the man who takes home the obscenely huge FedEx prize.

The Tour Championship is, in effect, a tournament within a much bigger tournament, but is still well worth winning for its own sake and even those players unlikely to gain enough points to scoop the FedEx jackpot will still be busting a gut over the next four days.

Tiger Woods may have found a 15th major beyond him this year, but he has otherwise enjoyed a wonderful 2013 on the golf course (rules controversies aside) and is unsurprisingly a solid 9/2 favourite with Coral to win this weekend.

As one of five players (along with Henrik Stenson (20/1), Adam Scott (10/1), Zach Johnson (18/1) and Matt Kuchar (22/1)) who will lift the FedEx Cup if they win this tournament, regardless of whatever anybody else does, the world number one is happy that his fate is in his own hands and is confident of giving it a big shot.

This is despite finishing seven shots behind Zach Johnson in last week’s BMW Championship, the penultimate FedEx Cup event. Woods actually played some of his best golf, but a two-shot penalty administered retrospectively after a keen-eyed viewer spotted his ball moving a centimetre or so in the rough did not help either his score or his mood.

Johnson was one of the big FedEx movers in the BMW, moving up from 27th into the all-important top five, while surges also came from runner-up Nick Watney (28/1) and fourth-placed Luke Donald (18/1) from outside to inside the top 30.

Donald is one of just two Brits to have made the final cut, the other being Justin Rose (16/1). Notable absentees include Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter and overall the Europeans have underachieved this time, but Sergio Garcia (28/1) has made it and is well capable of rising to a big occasion.

The last three winners of the FedEx Cup have all got through to the last day again, including 2010 champion, Jim Furyk, who, whatever happens over the next four days, will always be able to cherish the memory of a magic 59 in last week’s tournament.

But Woods has won this twice since its inception 2007 and few would put it past him to not only win it a third time, but to do it in style by cementing his triumph with a sixth tournament win of the season in this final big-bucks contest.

Written by Jon Freeman