World’s best line up for Tour Championship

The 2012 FedExCup Champion will be determined this Sunday when the Tour Championship returns to East Lake Golf Club for the final big name event on the PGA Tour calendar this season.

Rory McIlroy remains atop the FedEx Cup standings following a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood at the BMW Championship, the third event of the FedExCup Playoffs.

McIIroy prepares to make his first appearance at the Tour Championship and will be aiming to create history in becoming the first leading player in the standings entering the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup title.

Rounding out the top five in the FedExCup standings are Tiger Woods (No. 2), Nick Watney (No. 3), Phil Mickelson (No. 4) and Brandt Snedeker (No. 5).

Any of the top-five players are guaranteed to win the FedExCup title should they win the Tour Championship.

Should McIIroy secure a top-5 finish the Irishman has a reasonable chance of claiming the title – yet he could mathematically finish as low as 29th and still have a chance.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy leads the 2012 FedEx Cup heading in to the Tour Championship (Credit: Anthony Powter)

With a victory, McIlroy would join Chad Campbell (2003), Bart Bryant (2005) and Haas (2011) as the only players to win the Tour Championship in their first appearance.

Adam Scott qualified 21st along with John Senden at 29th to be the only Australians remaining.

With the points reset following the BMW Championship, all 30 players in the field at the Tour Championship have a mathematical chance to win the FedExCup.

Crunching the numbers means Scott will need to win this week, with McIIroy finishing 13th or worse, Woods securing a 5th place finish or worst, Nick Watney finishing in a 6-way tie for 2nd or worse, Phil Mickelson recording a 3rd place or worst and Brandt Snedeker and Louis Oosthulzen finishing tied 2nd or worse.

A similar scenario also requires Senden to win this week to have any chance of taking out the FedExCup Series and the US$10,000,000 bonus money distribution.

These sort of mathematical scenarios and ‘what-if’s’ remain a drawback to the series.

Volatility is nice, but not when it gives way to the improbable based on the likelihood of a particular scenario playing out. There are simply too many factors at play to consider what might eventuate come this Sunday.

Those criticisms will certainly get their airing over the next few days. On paper, following the reconfiguration of points, anything is possible and often the impossible does happens.

Whilst the FedEx Cup series has plenty of flaws, it also gets plenty right. It brings the PGA Tour’s top players to the same table for an entire month of dates as they battle for the richest prize money on tour.

At The Barclays, Nick Watney emerged from a poor season as Sergio Garcia ran out of steam in his quest for back-to-back victories.

At the Deutsche Bank Championship, McIlroy made up a three-shot deficit to Oosthuizen in the first five holes of the final round, then hunted the Masters runner-up down the stretch for the victory.

Woods was another shot back and kept the pace alive as we waited for another “Tiger” comeback that we all are so patiently awaiting. In the process Johnson and Brandt Snedeker sealed their selection on the US Ryder Cup team.

McIlroy struck again at the BMW Championship, winning a sprint to the finish, which again included Tiger, with Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and our own Adam Scott getting attention.

This sixth edition of the FedEx Cup has produced the kind of star power envisioned when PGA Tour officials decided the season needed a final series showdown.

For the avid Tour follower this creates tremendous pulling power and so far these series have been very satisfying. The next four rounds at East Lake Golf Club starting Thursday promises to be no different.