After nearly eleven months and over 40 tournaments we have arrived at the Tour Championship, the final week of the 2018/19 PGA Tour season, while over on the European Tour we have the Scandinavian Invitation to get our teeth into.
Last week proved to be a great one for us as Justin Thomas delivered the goods, so let’s start this one by seeing if we can make sense of the new format at the Tour Championship and build on that success.
The Tour Championship is held once more at it’s traditional home, East Lake GC in Atlanta Georgia, a par 70 measuring 7346yds. But while the venue and the traditional 30-man field are familiar, the rest of this week is a venture in to the unknown as the PGA Tour, in an attempt to simplify and make more exciting a system that neither needed simplifying or making more exciting, have come up with a new handicap scoring system.
Under the new system the player leading the standings coming into the week starts on a score of -10, while the player in second starts on -8, the man in third -7 and so on down to those ranked 26th – 30th, who will start on Level Par, ten behind.
The player who then finishes the week with the lowest score including their starting handicap score will take home the Fedex Cup, the Tour Championship and a cool $15 Million. Not bad for a week’s work!
The man who arrives in Atlanta with that two shot advantage is last weeks hero for us, Justin Thomas. Starting two behind him is Patrick Cantlay, while Brooks Koepka sets out a further shot behind in third.
How the players will adjust their mindset to this new format is tough to work out and in all honesty I am reluctant to get involved in the market presented to us for the handicapped event.
Fortunately though, realising this market is a minefield Paddy have provided us with an alternative market for ‘the player who shoots the lowest 72 hole score’, and this is perhaps where the value lies.
My logic here is to side with a player who is far enough out of contention to win the main Fedex pot that they will purely be focused on shooting the lowest score they can, and the man who I really like most at the odds to do this is former Fedex Cup Champion Brandt Snedeker.
Sneds is a player it pays to follow when he gets hot as his history shows his wins come on the back of a strong run of results. With two top six finishes in his last two starts and starting on -2, eight of the pace, Sneds looks great each-way value to me to freewheel his way to the lowest score of the week on a course that he has good history on.
My second pick to go alongside Sneds in the same ‘lowest 72 hole score’ market is Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese star looked nearly back to his best last week at Medinah, shooting two rounds of 63, and I can see him carrying that momentum in to this week.
Over on the European Tour for the second year running we are at the Hill Golf & Sports Club a par 70 layout measuring 6865 yards on the outskirts of Gothenburg.
A short course with wind its main defence it proved on its debut last year to be a venue suited to shorter hitters and strong exponents of links style golf.
Home favourite Henrik Stenson is a tempting warm order here, however at short odds I shall pass him by and instead start my team with Robert McIntyre. McInytyre has already proven in his debut season on tour that he loves a course where wind is a factor and with two second-place finishes already a maiden win can’t be far away.
In addition to McIntyre I shall include Romain Langasque and Haydn Porteous. Frenchman Langasque is destined for big things and like McIntyre has shown since joining the tour that he is suited to this type of test, while South African Porteous was sixth here last year and has been in great form of late.