Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson have cemented their place as FedEx Cup favorites. How will that affect their approach to this week’s BMW Championship?
Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson all agree that the FedEx Cup and the Tour Championship are important events, ones that they are focused on in terms of a victory. In addition, they’ve made it clear that being the FedEx Cup champion has become significant to them. That is a seismic shift compared to pre-FedEx Cup days.
In fact, the FedExCup has done what the PGA Tour originally hoped it would do, keeping the top players playing until the last event in the year and motivating them to stay sharp and engaged. Never mind that the date of the end of the season has moved. The Tour Championship is the conclusion of the PGA Tour season, and it’s better to have the players people want to watch battle it out. Better yet, each one has a mathematical chance to win it all.
Many golf fans may not recall that in the years before the FedExCup, top players sometimes skipped the Tour Championship because it was in the first week of November. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were among those who did not show up some seasons.
By that time of year, top players had collected their majors or prime event victories and wanted some time off. Then after staying away from events for six weeks, it was difficult for them to get sharp enough or motivated enough to compete at the Tour Championship. Now things have changed.
"“There’s so much at stake making the Tour Championship. You get into all the Majors, you get into every event,” Spieth said in anticipation of the BMW and Tour Championship."
“Being the FedExCup Champion is something that I want on my resume,” Johnson revealed.
Last year, Johnson was in the position of having to hope that Rory McIlroy would not beat Ryan Moore in the playoff at the Tour Championship. McIlroy’s victory meant Johnson did not win the FedExCup. It also cost him $7 million.
"“If I would have played a little better there on the back-9 on Sunday (at the Tour Championship), I mean, I would have been the FedExCup Champion,” Johnson added.“The names that have won it have been very impressive,” Justin Thomas said. “It’s not like anybody had a bad year and then just slips in there and wins sort of thing.”"
Going into the last two events, Jordan Spieth is in the driver’s seat since he’s No. 1 on the points list. His plan to stay there includes conserving energy and staying in his routine after a long and successful season.
"“I’m motivated to stay where I am, and I’ve got two guys that I’m playing with that are very, very close on my heels,” Spieth explained."
He was talking, of course, about Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson. Naturally, they want the FedExCup title just as much because they haven’t won it yet.
"“I’ve won a Major. I haven’t won the FedExCup so — but to me they go pretty hand-in-hand,” Johnson said. “So, you know it means a lot. So, all the guys and for me, it’s something that I want to win, and I drive myself to win it.”More from Pro Golf NowGolf Rumors: LIV set to sign Masters Champion in stunning dealFantasy Golf: Grant Thornton Invitational DFS Player SelectionsBrutal return leaves Will Zalatoris looking towards 2024Stars You Know at World Champions Cup Starts Thursday at ConcessionFantasy Golf: An Early Look at the 2024 Masters Tournament"
“I want to go out here and have a chance to win come Sunday. I know I’m going to be in the Top-5 going into Atlanta,” Thomas noted adding that if he had a choice, he would rather win next week than this week. “It’s a huge deal. I always take it very seriously.”
The reason he would rather win next week is that a player in the top five who wins the Tour Championship will win the FedExCup. That keeps even the FedEx Cup No. 1 guy, Spieth, motivated.
"“If I finish runner-up this week, unless one of two other people won, I will have accomplished the goal of being No. 1 going into East Lake,” Spieth said. “No. 1 is a huge difference from No. 3 as you go into East Lake for the scenarios to win.”"
Spieth said that because after the BMW, all FedEx points for the year will be thrown out, and they are replaced by a new points list for the Tour Championship. The player with the most points starting the Tour Championship, with a good finish, can still win the FedEx Cup without winning the Tour Championship, depending on how the others play.
If he is No. 1 at the end of this week, Spieth will have an advantage over the field going into the last tournament. However, every player has a chance to win, depending on how all the others finish. Several, like Jim Furyk and Bill Haas, have won the FedEx Cup by winning the Tour Championship even though they were outside the top five. However, they had to overcome a lot of math to do it.
The odds favor Spieth, Thomas and Johnson. Will it remain that way after the BMW Championship?