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By Ciaran Meagher
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Tour Championship ~ 2021

Last Week:

One subscriber messaged me after Cantlays tee shot on 17, saying where has Lady Luck been. Well, she disappeared again pretty damn quickly after that!! I still can’t quite believe that Bryson didn’t get the job done, on so many occasions did it appear a formality. Such is sport, but following on from Henley and Bubba, it was a mighty cruel blow. Matched at 1.02 on the 17th, I even allowed myself an exhale.

The back 9, and ensuing playoff was seriously high quality viewing. Cantlay just refused to be beaten, and his putter refused to miss. Bryson did very little wrong, he just ran into one of the best putting displays of all time. His bogey on 17 was unnecessary though, and was what kept the door ajar for Cantlay.

Thankfully Kevin Na did enough to take an 80% share of the Top 20 dividend, but yet again it feels like a week where we should have had much more return.


The finale of the 2021 season, and the event that determines the destination of this year’s lucrative FedEx Cup title, it’s the Tour Championship from East Lake. FedEx and the PGA Tour are continuing with the staggered start for this event, and for me it makes it a bit of a nonsense. It’s a cracking field on a seriously good course, but at least 10 have absolutely no chance of winning. That has to affect the mindset from the start. Considering they crave drama and close finishes, they are surely setting about it the wrong way.

East Lake is a 7350 yard Par 71, and with challenging rough off narrow fairways, it demands accuracy from the tee. Bryson DeChambeau has labelled it as one of the only venues where he can’t simply power it to death. A proper test, a shame about the staggered start!

As was the case last year, I will approach it in a slightly different manner. Hopefully we can get the same result as then, when Xander Schauffele landed us a 12/1 winner. Most bookies will have two markets, one for the Tour Championship Outright, and one for Best/Lowest 72 Hole Score. The latter market will not include the bonus strokes/starting scores which are listed below.

  1. Patrick Cantlay (1) -10
  2. Bryson DeChambeau (2) -8
  3. Tony Finau (3) -7
  4. Jon Rahm (4) -6
  5. Cameron Smith (5) -5

T6. Justin Thomas (6) -4

T6. Harris English (7) -4

T6. Abraham Ancer (8) -4

T6. Jordan Spieth (9) -4

T6. Sam Burns (10) -4

T11. Collin Morikawa (11) -3

T11. Sungjae Im (12) -3

T11. Viktor Hovland (13) -3

T11. Louis Oosthuizen (14) -3

T11. Dustin Johnson (15) -3

T16. Rory McIlroy (16) -2

T16. Xander Schauffele (17) -2

T16. Jason Kokrak (18) -2

T16. Kevin Na (19) -2

T16. Brooks Koepka (20) -2

T21. Corey Conners (21) -1

T21. Hideki Matsuyama (22) -1

T21. Stewart Cink (23) -1

T21. Joaquin Niemann (24) -1

T21. Scottie Scheffler (25) -1

T26. Daniel Berger (26) E

T26. Erik van Rooyen (27) E

T26. Sergio Garcia (28) E

T26. Billy Horschel (29) E

T26. Patrick Reed (30) E

Tour Championship Outright:

Courtesy of his never say die win on Sunday evening, Patrick Cantlay takes pole position into this week, which sees him begin the event on 10 under par, and have a 2 stroke lead over his closest rival Tony Finau. We are only in the third year of this charade, and while Dustin Johnson did close it out from the front 12 months ago, it is a strange position to be trying to convert from. Cantlay entered the 2019 edition in second place, yet in shooting 9 over par for his week’s play, he plummeted to 21st. Cantlay has seemed shaky with a lead in the past, and though he appeared granite on Sunday gone, I wouldn’t have this down as an ideal situation for him.

Tony Finau finally made his breakthrough for his second win, but again he obviously still has some question marks over his ability to take it out from the front. At just 15/2 to land the title, he wouldn’t be for me. That Thursday two ball of Cantlay and Finau has ‘stall’ written all over it for me.

Bryson DeChambeau! It has been very rare in the last 18 months that I have put him up, and was more than mildly pleased with myself for most of last week. That test really suited him, where he could just consistently let fly with the driver. That isn’t the case here, and is backed up by the fact that in 30 man fields he has finished 19/7/25 in his 3 appearances to date. He will need to be very much straighter here, and his approach play will need to be a deal better.

For all JON RAHM’s brilliance, and his clear position at the head of the world rankings, he hasn’t yet got the Tiger way of putting tournaments to bed from the front. Even in some of his wins, having seemed in a position of dominance, he has tended to leave the door ajar and offer hope to the chasers. I have no doubt he will rectify that in time, but for the moment he certainly seems at his best when doing the chasing. This week sets up very nicely for him in that regard, and I expect him to take this one out. 

He has been ridiculously consistent this year, nearly machine like, and though it was surprising how weak his weekend effort was last week, it is none too worrying for me. He had a tough week at Liberty and bounced straight back to the front just a couple of days later in the BMW, it’s not easy to keep that up. He got a bit heated at times there, but that’s just his nature. I did mention prior to the Northern Trust that he was coming into the Playoffs fresher than most,and that may ultimately benefit him this week. East Lake sets up very well for Rahm. 1st for Total Driving, 1st for GIR, he will be in his element here with how he is currently striking the ball. The early 9/2 has disappeared, but 7/2 is still a worthwhile play in my opinion. There are only a handful of realistic winners of this, and Rahm is perfectly poised to do so.

Cameron Smith starts a shot further back, and given how well he plays Augusta you would expect to improve on his two poor performances here to date sooner rather than later. But giving shots to Rahm in the Spaniard’s current vein of form is a monumental task, and for that reason I don’t really feel the need to look much further at this market. 

Best 72 Hole Score:

This, the more traditional way of doing things, is again the more interesting market for me.

It has proved tough for the FedEx leader to keep the pedal down and produce the goods here, so I am leaving Pat Cantlay aside fairly quickly. Tony Finau also isn’t yet one for careering away, so he too would offer little appeal here. I am not so sure that East Lake will ever be the happiest hunting ground for Brsyon DeChambeau.

I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off a 1pt stake save on Jon Rahm producing the low 72 holes at 7/1, but as it stands I have had three bets here.

It was once again tempting to just side with Xander Schauffele in this market. He clearly loves it here, thrives in these limited field events, and continues to be a real horses for courses type player. I just wonder if he has been to the well once too often though. There has been a combination of the good, the bad and the ugly from the Olympic Gold Medallist in recent weeks, and signs are that he may just need a break. Shorter in the market than players like DJ and JT, he certainly hasn’t been missed,and I can let him run here.

It is DUSTIN JOHNSON that I turn to now. I had been quick enough to sidestep him of late, suggesting he just didn’t seem to be fully focussed on the task at hand. But there had been shoots of promise at The Open and WGC, and though they along with missed cuts at the 3M and Northern Trust weren’t enough to interest me ahead of the BMW, his showing last week has swayed me into his corner. There was much to like about his game there, and though 7 shots back of the lead of Cantlay starting out here, he will have designs on defending his title. Indeed it wouldn’t totally surprise me where he to be the one who Rahm had to worry about most come Sunday evening. 

From the point of view of this market, I prefer to take players from the middle of the pack. Not right in the hot seat, as they are likely to play (by design or not) a slightly different game. Slightly more cautious at times. Those that start at Level par, if they don’t get a hot start, there has to be a risk that they then become too adventurous or simply go through the motions and collect a nice paycheck. DJ knows he has the ability to win from where he has, he is on a bit of a freebie as such, and I fancy him to make a good stab at it. His wins in the past have typically been flagged up by a decent preceding week, and last week definitely suggested he was trending in the right direction. 

My second selection here is JORDAN SPIETH. It is hard to believe the 2015 winner hasn’t qualified for East Lake since 2017, but such had been the slump that he was in, it will be a victory in itself to the 3 time Major winner that he has made it this time. I have often thought of East Lake as a layout similar in ways to Augusta. This is a comparison that Jordan himself has made also, and that alone is a big pointer to his prospects here. He has been slightly off the boil the last few weeks, but most were tests not made to measure, and I would expect him to be far more comfortable back here. It’s a strange thing to say about such a prolific winner, but like Rahm and Finau, I would view Jordan as happier hunting than being the hunted. He starts from an ideal position here, no real pressure attached, and I envisage a very good week.

Rory McIlroy will be popular here, and rightly so, he has a superb record on the course. But his comments of feeling a long season still ring in my ears, and have put me off getting involved here. Justin Thomas too has a fine previous here, and he is another to consider. I just prefer DJ and Jordan at the prices.

At bigger odds, I have made KEVIN NA my last selection in this market. Given how much of a benefit power was last week, his display there deserves to be upgraded slightly. This will be a more ideal test, and I would absolutely love to see him win this to throw the cat among the pigeons in regard to a Ryder Cup slot. He probably wouldn’t get the pick anyway, but given his recent run of form, there are worse candidates that might. Na has plenty of experience of making it to East Lake, and in truth has never really produced his best. But from a starting position of very little expectation, given his recent excellent play, the 70/1 on offer in a 30 man field just seems too big to ignore. 

Other Musings:

It really is a nonsense of an event to be trying to find a bet in. The limited field leaves sub markets like top nationalities having very few runners, and the Top 10/20 markets don’t offer much in the way of value.

I will however look to lay both Collin Morikawa and Hideki Matsuyama in the Top 20 market on betfair. I would be hoping to get Morikawa in the book at 1.36-1.38 and Hideki at 1.74-1.76. Both to me look to be just going through the motions.

Morikawa has clearly been affected by the injury picked up at the Olympics, and Matsuyama just appears to be done for the season. He also has a pretty poor record around here, only twice on 7 occasions finishing inside the top 10. Given his talent, and the very limited field size, that is a poor return.

I had hoped to have a look at both in a To Finish Last Market, but bookies seem to have done away with this since the inception of the staggered start.

Those that do fancy another flutter on the event, Jordan Spieth is shaping up to be a circa 2.4 shot on Betfair for a Top 10 Finish, and Kevin Na approx 2.2 for a Top 20. Both would represent value in my opinion. 


Winner – Tour Championship Outright:

7pts Jon Rahm 7/2 (General) 

72 Hole Strokeplay (Without FedEx Cup Starting Strokes) 

2pts ew Dustin Johnson 14/1 (¼ odds 4 places, PP/BFSB) 

1.2pts ew Jordan Spieth 25/1 (odds 5 places, Coral/Lads) 

.5pt ew Kevin Na 70/1 (¼ odds 4 places, 365) *60/1+ to 5 places is fine

Running Totals 2021:

Staked: 711.15pts

Returned: 571.95pts

I will be back in three weeks time with a preview of The Ryder Cup.


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By Ciaran Meagher

[email protected]