Jason Day has all the right credentials for winning the Tour Championship but whether that will be enough to clinch the FedEx Cup and $10 million dollar bonus depends on the finishing position of other players. The top five in the standings can control their own destiny and a win in one equates to a win in another. Day is somewhat off the pace but tipped this week.
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Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Justin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm will win the FedEx Cup if they prevail in the Tour Championship. Players below the top five require a combination of outcomes to secure the post-season trophy by winning the Tour finale. Day is 15th in the table and probably too far back to overhaul all the players above him so the massive bonus looks out of reach. Winning the Tour Championship alone would be far less lucrative but welcome all the same.
Should any of the top 5 win at East Lake this week that player will be guaranteed the FedEx Cup title. Tiger Woods is only the multiple winner to date so Spieth would be joining a very select band of players who have won the honour and bonus more than once. The Open champion at his best beats everyone else but the host course is not the best fit for his game so he may struggle. He won’t be so lucky this time as he was when finding the practice range on a crucial hole at Royal Birkdale.
The East Lake course is relatively long for a par 70. The key skills for good scoring are total driving, strokes gained putting and greens hit. Spieth showed in the final round of the Open Championship at Birkdale that his driving is not the best part of his game. East Lake will be less forgiving and is a rare course in that both driving accuracy and distance are required. A player must have a good week off the tee to contend. In fact the course provides a good all round test.
Spieth is only the second golfer in the year history of the playoffs to arrive at the Tour Championship at number one in the standings without winning any of the three post-season tournaments. Only five golfers from outside the top 30 at the end of the regular season moved into the elite group of 30 players who have qualified for the Tour Championship. Points have been reset and only those five players have the final outcome in their own hands and one should win the FedEx Cup.
Day won the USPGA Championship in 2015 and reached the pinnacle of the game. Injury and personal issues led to a loss of form but he is now looking like his old self on the course. Two poor holes cost him in the PGA Championship and BMW Championship over the last month and mental errors were expensive. Day is attuned again to contending in big events and the Tour Championship is one of the biggest. Only the best players over the full season qualify to play.
The selection scores well for the key attributes and has one of the best skill’s profiles in the field. He was ranked 49th at the end of the regular season so has overachieved more than any other player. Day has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts and has made the top 10 at East Lake three times in the last seven years. Driving is a major strength and he is above average for GIR and putting. Day can complete his recovery from a career blip by winning the 2017 Tour Championship.
Back next Thursday.