This is it, folks.
The 2018-19 PGA Tour season wraps up this week with the winner-take-all Tour Championship at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club.
This year brings along an interesting format in that there’s a leaderboard with scores on it before the tournament even tees off on Thursday. Since Justin Thomas is the No. 1-ranked player in the FedExCup standings entering the event, he will begin the Tour Championship at 10-under par, two strokes better than Patrick Cantlay, the No. 2-ranked player. Scores are staggered all the way down to players ranked 26-30, who will start the week at even par.
That brings into play what could be an interesting scenario. We’ll let our friends at Golf Digest explain…
What if Jason Kokrak shoots 14-under for the week, and Justin Thomas shoots five-under but has the lower total at 15 under? Kokrak can beat Thomas by nine shots over four days and lose?
That’s right. If Kokrak shoots rounds of 65, 67, 68 and 66 to post 14 under for the week, and Justin Thomas goes 69, 69, 70 and 67 to get to 15 under, Thomas would be the winner even though Kokrak was nine shots lower for the week. That is the advantage Thomas earned himself with his BMW victory that got him the No. 1 spot.
Simply put, everyone in the field not named Justin Thomas will have to — at the very least — overcome a two-stroke deficit to have a chance at the $15 million first prize.
With that in mind, which players do our caddies like? Since the field is short, just 30 players, we asked three caddies to provide one winning pick apiece. Here are their picks…
- Rory McIlroy. “Rory plays well there! He tied for seventh last year, won in 2016 and tied for second in 2014. I’ve said previously that he would be No. 1 in the world by year’s end. At No. 3 in the world, currently, I need him to win every time he plays for that to happen! He’ll start this week five back — a tall task, but one I think he can handle.”
- Justin Thomas. “That’s the easy pick, right? Given the big lead and the fact he’s coming off a win on Sunday, clearly in great form, how could you not give JT the nod? I have to go with him.”
- Patrick Cantlay. “This is tough, but I’m going with Patrick Cantlay. He’s only two back to start the tournament – that sure is strange to say – and obviously he’s playing really well. JT just played a little better at Medinah. But I think the conditions in Atlanta, barring weather, East Lake is a harder course and suited more toward Patrick’s game. JT got the best of Patrick in Chicago and I think Patrick returns the favor this week.”