2022 Tour Championship: Top 10 power rankings at East Lake

FedEx Cup, Tour Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
FedEx Cup, Tour Championship,Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 2021-22 PGA Tour season all comes down to this.

The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, caps the 48-event season and three-event FedEx Cup Playoffs.

The top 30 players from the FedEx Cup standings are in the field this week. They won’t begin on equal footing.

This is the fourth year the PGA Tour has implemented a staggered leaderboard to begin the tournament. It rewards the top players in the standings by letting them start under par.

Scottie Scheffler will begin in the lead at 10-under-par with last week’s BMW Championship winner, Patrick Cantlay, in second at 8-under.

The leaderboard continues with Will Zalatoris at 7-under, Xander Schauffele at 6-under, and Sam Burns at 5-under.

Tied for sixth at 4-under are Cam Smith, Rory McIlroy, Sepp Straka, and Sungjae Im. At 3-under are Jon Rahm, Scott Stallings, Justin Thomas, Cameron Young, and Matt Fitzpatrick.

The group at 2-under includes Max Homa, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Joaquin Niemann, and Viktor Hovland.

At 1-under are Collin Morikawa, Billy Horschel, Tom Hoge, Corey Conners, and Brian Harman. Finally, at even par are K.H. Lee, J.T. Poston, Sahith Theegala, Adam Scott, and Aaron Wise.

East Lake is a 7,346-yard par-70.

The Donald Ross design opened in 1904 and was Bobby Jones’ old stomping grounds.

The club hosted the 1963 Ryder Cup and the Tour Championship in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004-present. The course is relatively straightforward with length being an asset.

Key stats to watch include strokes gained tee to green, performance on par-4s over 450 yards, proximity from 150-200 yards, and performance on Bermuda greens.

East Lake tends to rank in the upper third as far as course difficulty on the PGA Tour in a given season.

Weather for the week looks warm and rainy. Soft conditions should be beneficial for bombers.

Let’s get down to business with this week’s power rankings:

Tour Championship, East Lake Golf Club, FedEx Cup, PGA Tour, FedEx Cup Playoffs, Rory McIlroy
Cam Smith, Tour Championship, Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports /

Was it really a hip injury? Or did Cam Smith just want to avoid the awkwardness of last week’s BMW Championship and preceding players’ meetings re: LIV Golf and the future of the PGA Tour?

A lot of us in the golf world were doing our best Brian Windhorst impressions trying to figure out what was going on in Wilmington.

Smith has proved to be fairly tight-lipped about these sorts of decisions, so we likely will not truly know.

Regardless, the 2022 Champion Golfer of the Year feels spry enough to give it a go at the Tour Championship.

I couldn’t outright deny Smith a spot in the power rankings given the incredible year and recent form he’s shown. However, East Lake is not a great course fit for Smith who has finished middle of the pack or worse in three appearances.

Most recently was last year, when Smith finished T-14th on the official net leaderboard and T-17th in gross scoring. He posted rounds of 68-68-73-69.

The 29-year-old Aussie is known for his putting.

That continues to be strong. Smith ranks seventh on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting per round (.618).

He was in the top 10 in putting last year, too. The big step up has been in his iron play. Smith is up from 63rd in SG approach (.291) to third (.863).

Smith is making his second start since the Sunday 64 to win at St. Andrew’s. The 29-year-old also went crazy low to win this year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and survived in tough conditions at the Players Championship.

A win this week would tie Smith with Scheffler for most wins on the PGA Tour this season (4) and would make the PGA Tour Player of the Year vote a bit more contentious.

That’s not the scenario Jay Monahan wants to see, but it would make for interesting theater.

I don’t see it playing out that way, but Smith will post his best result at East Lake in perhaps his final appearance.