Top 30 vie for world’s richest golf prize in Atlanta

Just 30 golfers remain in the hunt for the FedExCup title starting this Thursday and the top 5 entering the week are Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson, and Justin Thomas.

Rose has the opportunity to reconfirm his number one world ranking with victory in the Tour Championship, which would hand him FedEx Cup crown along with another $12 million to his bank balance.

Justin Thomas Justin Thomas won the 2017 FedExCup Playoffs (Credit: PGA Tour)

A fortnight ago, Rose’s second place at the BMW Championship saw him take over from Johnson as golf’s world number one and with all players enjoying a week’s rest, the season ender should be a great finale for the year.

Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club will again play host this week. It has been the course used exclusively for the Tour final since 2004 and since the FedExCup Playoffs era began in 2007.

Donald Ross designed the layout back in the early 1900s with some modernisation work done by Rees Jones since that time.

As is often the case with classic designs in the southern US, the course is tight and tree-lined, which will suit the straight driver of the ball as the biggest obstacle is keeping it on the fairways.

The stats show that the field on average has hit just 54% of the fairways since 2010. On top of that, players must also deal with the thick, bermuda rough that lines the course and punishes any wayward strokes.

Arguably the best thing about the Tour Championship is that every one of the top 30 golfers has a chance to win the FedExCup with a victory at East Lake.

Even No. 30 Patton Kizzire, although he will need a lot of help to do so. That makes it the most interesting event of the season, and the perfect end to a year that has seen plenty of drama.

Many consider the format the best four days in golf all season long with various scenarios unfolding across the weekend as the world’s best vie for golf’s richest prize.

Nine of the 30 players in this week’s event went winless this season yet have qualified for the season ender via consistent results and now have the chance to pocket some serious cash.

Last year, Xander Schauffele won this event, and Thomas finished second to claim the FedExCup title. Schauffele has a chance to defend his tournament title, and Thomas also has the opportunity to win the Cup again.

No player has won this event twice since it became the final event of the playoffs in 2007, and only Woods has managed to win the Cup twice (2007, 2009).

Tom Watson won the first edition of the Tour Championship, back in 1987, when it was known as the Nabisco Championship. Originally played in November, it was designed as a showcase event to round off the PGA Tour season with only the top-30 on the money list.

Favourites to follow this week include Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, but also keep an eye on Aussie Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and of course, Tiger Woods, who could surprise us all.

The last five winners have been Xander Schauffele (2017), Rory McIlroy (2016), Jordan Spieth (2015), Billy Horschel (2014) and Henrik Stenson (2013).

Jason Day and Marc Leishman are the other two Aussies competing this week in Atlanta.