And so it all comes down to this. Here in Atlanta, Georgia, at the course that the great Bobby Jones grew up playing on, East Lake Golf Club. The Tour Championship, the fourth and final leg of the FedEx Cup playoff race. Five great players lead a field of 30, with only those five in full control of their destiny as this PGA Tour Season wraps up this weekend.
As much as $11.44 Million is available to those top five if any one of them holds up the Tour Championship trophy along with the FedEx Cup on Sunday. $1.44 Million for the Tour Championship, and the $10 Million bonus for capturing the Cup.
Right now the top five competitors in the FedEx Cup rankings are Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, and Matt Kuchar. Since the current points system was put in place in 2009, last year's champion, Brandt Snedeker is the only one who has won the FedEx Cup in a similar, destiny controlling, position. The other years have been exceptions, with one example being exceptional.
Just two years ago in 2011, Bill Haas came to Atlanta ranked 25th in FedEx Cup points. He defeated Hunter Mahan in a thrilling playoff. With that victory, and the help of so many ranked near the top not playing well, he captured the FedEx Cup Championship. It was a prime example of how anyone in the field this weekend can win with the right kind of help.
Still, ask any player in the field that isn't in the top five where they'd like to be as they tee it up this morning, and they'd all admit that that's where they'd like to be. Woods, Stenson, Scott, Johnson and Kuchar are the only five who have any realistic chance of capturing the FedEx Cup without winning this championship.
But still, Woods is the only one in the past four years whose won the Cup without winning the Tour Championship. In 2009, he landed in Atlanta just like this year, leading the FedEx Cup points race. Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship that year, but he didn't earn enough FedEx Cup points to overtake Tiger, so they both were on stage together at the awards ceremony.
What does this all tell us? That anything can, and probably will happen here at this historic venue.
There are certainly others with a strong chance of winning the FedEx Cup if they can win here at East Lake. The defending champ Brandt Snedeker stands in tenth place coming in. If he can win here again with just a little bit of help, he'd be the first to win in consecutive years. Others with a decent chance with a victory this week are Steve Stricker, Graham DeLaet, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Jim Furyk, and Nick Watney.
Don't overlook super rookie Jordan Spieth, who stands at 13th coming in. The young man, age 20, is a birdie machine at times, and if he gets hot, he'll end the week a lot wealthier a lot faster than he's destined to become anyway.
So let these great players tee it up and see what happens. This should be another showcase of PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem's grand vision that in retrospect has turned into a prophetic gem when he first conceived it just over a decade ago.
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