East Lake Golf Club – Par 70 – 7,346 yards
Field – 29 entrants
Purse – $75M
The stage is set for the grand finale of the PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season as East Lake Golf Club once again plays host to the TOUR Championship, inviting those among the top 30 in the eligibility points list after advancing through the first two legs of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The field in Atlanta is limited to just 29 entrants upon Will Zalatoris’ withdrawal due to a back injury, widening the gap near the top of the event’s unique staggered start. Speaking of which, Yahoo indicates that “scoring for final placement for the Tour Championship will include the weighted scoring when the tournament begins,” but the DFS penalty for a starting stroke disparity is less severe the further down the leaderboard you travel. The gap in fantasy points received near the bottom is minuscule, especially with four rounds of actual scoring still to be played. The difference between the bonus for a player finishing 11th vs. finishing 30th is worth only three fantasy points, or less than a single birdie over the course of 72 holes. Whereas the difference between a golfer finishing in first place vs. fourth place is 17 fantasy points. So, it’s as important as ever to roster the eventual champion, but grinding the starting-strokes conundrum near the bottom of the leaderboard doesn’t have to be as trivial as it might sound.
2021 – Patrick Cantley
2020 – Dustin Johnson
2019 – Rory McIlroy
2018 – Tiger Woods
2017 – Xander Schauffele
2016 – Rory McIlroy
2015 – Jordan Spieth
2014 – Billy Horschel
2013 – Henrik Stenson
2012 – Brandt Snedeker
Key Stats to Victory
Yahoo Value Picks
Based on a $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Rory McIlroy – $42 (four under par)
Yahoo’s generally softer pricing is entertaining because it usually lends gamers an opportunity to select more than one upper-tier talent, so when you factor in the weighted-scoring advantage this week, top seeds Scottie Scheffler ($49) and Patrick Cantlay ($44) are going to be incredibly popular as lineup anchors. Instead of stating the obvious by recommending them, let’s examine McIlroy, who begins the week with a six-stroke disadvantage despite a fairly hefty $42 salary. The hope in allocating some exposure to McIlroy is that his rostership deflates a bit due to the six-shot deficit yet expensive price tag, while it’s entirely feasible and encouraged to combine Scheffler-Cantlay and then drop down. But, McIlroy obviously owns an impressive East Lake resume with two wins here since 2016, and he’s no. 1 in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green over his last 24 measured rounds. He put on a driving clinic in Wilmington last week as he paced the entire field in SG: Off-the-Tee, ultimately tying for eighth at the BMW Championship despite losing 4.6 strokes with the flat stick.
Xander Schauffele – $40 (six under par)
Rebounding from a lousy ball-striking performance en route to a 57th-place finish at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Schauffele picked up a collective 8.6 strokes off the tee and with his irons at the BMW Championship to place third last week. He’s now second to none in proximity from 200-plus yards over his last 24 rounds, and he’s finished T7 or better in five straight East Lake appearances dating back to his win here in 2017.
Jon Rahm – $38 (three under par)
Rahm nearly cracked the $40 mark despite the beginning of the week seven strokes back of Scheffler, but the Spaniard has gained an average of 4.5 strokes from tee to green per visit to East Lake and he’s statistically the best driver of the golf ball this season, which he showcased throughout the first two legs of the playoffs.
Sunjae Im – $23 (four under par)
Im’s $23 salary is much too low as he rides a scorching-hot putter into his fourth career TOUR Championship outing, though he’s also fifth in SG: Off-the-Tee throughout his past 12 rounds. Im has never gained strokes off the tee at East Lake, however, so it could be a first if he’s able to maintain this current driving process.
Corey Conners – $20 (one under par)
Conners has gained at least 3.2 strokes off the tee in four consecutive measured starts, and he just picked up 8.8 strokes on the field with his ball striking at the BMW Championship where he placed fifth. The upside that accompanies Conners’ exquisite tee-to-green play is too great to ignore at the minimum $20 salary when we’re targeting consistent birdie opportunities.
Scott Stallings – $20 (three under par)
The 37-year-old East Lake debutant has been on fire this summer with five top-15s in his last six starts dating to a T8 at the Travelers Championship. Across his last 24 rounds, Stallings ranks sixth in SG: Approach, seventh in Birdie or Better percentage and seventh in par-4 efficiency. He definitely won’t go under the radar after earning solo runner-up honors in Wilmington last week, where he broke 70 all four days and averaged five birdies per round.