TOUR Championship Picks and Predictions: Look For Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm To Find Success
TOUR Championship Picks and Predictions:
The top 30 players of the 2021-2022 PGA Tour season head to Atlanta for the finale of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the TOUR Championship. This event has gone through a number of structural changes, and beginning in 2019, the tournament adopted a staggered start. The number one player in the FedEx Cup standings will begin the week at 10-under par. The number two player will begin at eight-under par, and so on down the list. This format creates some interesting opportunities for bettors, as "Winner with starting strokes" and "Winner without starting strokes" are both markets that will be widely offered this week.
TOUR Championship Course Preview
East Lake Golf Club
East Lake Golf Club was originally designed by Donald Ross in 1913 but has received multiple recent makeovers by Rees Jones in both 2008 and 2016. Jones added more length, an excessive amount of bunkers, and pinched in the fairways as well. As a result, East Lake generally plays as one of the harder courses on the PGA Tour schedule. It features the most narrow fairways on the entire PGA Tour, and the penalty for missing is severe. East Lake consistently ranks inside the top-five on the PGA Tour in rough penalty, which can easily be explained by its sticky and unpredictable Bermuda rough.
Ultimately, East Lake requires all aspects of a player's game to be firing, but accurate driving and long iron play are absolutely paramount. Measuring over 7,300 and playing as a par 70, East Lake is one of the longest courses on Tour, and over 30% of approach shots come from over 200 yards. Tiger Woods described the challenge well, "In general, this is a ball-striker's golf course. If you drive the ball in the rough, you can't get the ball close. The Bermuda rough, you just can't control it. It puts a premium on driving." I will primarily be looking to target elite total drivers and long iron players, with an affinity for Bermuda-grass greens as an added bonus.
TOUR Championship Picks
TOUR Championship Key Stats
- Total Driving
- Long-term Proximity 200 yards plus
- Strokes Gained Total: Bermuda-grass courses
Let's dig into my outright TOUR Championship picks for the week.
TOUR Championship Picks and Predictions: Outright Winner
Rory McIlroy (16/1) (Bet $100 to Win $1,600) (Bet $100 to Win $1,600)
*Odds available on Bet365 at time of publishing.
Rory McIlroy faces an uphill battle this week, starting six strokes behind Scottie Scheffler. Still, he started five strokes back in this tournament by 2019 and ended up winning by four in runaway fashion. The four-time major winner has a sterling resume at East Lake. He's only finished outside the top-10 twice in eight appearances, with a runner-up and two wins, gaining strokes to the field in eight out of ten starts. From a strokes gained and overall consistency standpoint, McIlroy has been the best player in the world this year, yet all he has to show for it are wins at the RBC Canadian Open and CJ Cup. Still, no player has gained more strokes in the majors. The World No. 3 has put himself in position constantly this year, finishing top 10 in 50% of his starts this season, and he is coming off an elite ball-striking performance at the BMW where he gained 5.9 strokes off the tee and 2.4 strokes on approach. McIlroy's dominance off the tee is a given, but his iron play this season has also been remarkable. The 33-year-old has gained over a stroke and a half on approach in 10 straight starts. East Lake is a ball-striker's course through and through, and for my money, McIlroy remains the best striker in the world.
Jon Rahm (19/1) (Bet $100 to Win $1,900) (Bet $100 to Win $1,900)
*Odds available at Bet365 at time of publishing.
Jon Rahm's BMW Championship week was expected to be a massive disappointment on Friday afternoon, but he rallied to shoot the best score in the field over the weekend. I always want to identify players that improve throughout the week, and Rahm finished top-20 in strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained approach, and strokes gained putting. It was an extremely well-rounded performance from a player that has been the best driver of the ball in the world this year but underperformed in all other stat categories. The irons came firing back on Sunday, and this was Rahm's best-putting performance of the entire season as well, another area of his game that has failed him consistently all year. The World No. 6 shot the best score last year at East Lake and has shown a tendency to play his best golf this year when he's behind the eight-ball. Starting seven strokes back of Scottie Scheffler will be an uphill battle, but we have been trending towards a ceiling performance out of the disgruntled Spaniard for weeks now. I'll take my chances.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.