There’s so much talent at the top of the Tour Championship leaderboard that it’s almost sinful. Who will sweat out a victory in Atlanta and win the FedEx Cup?
It’s likely that the winner of the FedEx Cup will be one of five players: Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, or Jon Rahm.
Yes, Keegan Bradley has an outside chance. But, even though he’s played well, he has been missing from top, top competition for several years, due to the switch in legal putters, his long putter couldn’t be braced against the body. He had to find a new way to putt. It hurt him for many seasons.
For Rory McIlroy to win the FedEx Cup, he would need more than Leprechaun Luck. His right side is still bothering him, so that means he can’t hit shots the way he wants to.
“I was probably half a club off my numbers,” McIlroy said after the second round. “It’s just hard to sort of get my right side through the ball. It actually feels better with the longer clubs because I’m more upright in my posture. When I sort of get down to the shorter stuff, trying to stay in my posture is a struggle.”
Not a good sign if you are a Rory Fan and millions are.
However, he had the longest drive on Saturday. It was an amazing 393 yards.
“I need to go out and try and put as much pressure on him tomorrow on that front nine as I can and hope for the best.” – – Xander Schauffele
Viktor Hovland, as people like to say, is on a heater. Perfectly appropriate for the weather this week. He just won the BMW, and he had to stomp all over Matt Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy, and Scottie Scheffler to do it.
If he’s not out of killer instinct mode, he has a great chance to win the FedEx Cup. His iron shots have been significantly closer to the hole than they were last year.
“It’s hard to win the FedExCup if you haven’t played well the last few weeks,” he said after round three. “It’s just a great list of names that’s won the tournament, and we would — it would be awesome to have my name on there.”
He was headed for an ice bath.
Collin Morikawa finally found the missing link to making his game work. He set a 36-hole tournament record of 135 with rounds of 61-64. We still don’t know what the missing link was, but we now know when it happened.
“We were searching Tuesday afternoon,” he said. “I went down this rabbit hole of just kind of — I hit one bad shot in the practice round, tried to figure it out, was out on the range two more hours.”
But he did figure it out. Then his game became laser sharp, No. 1 in strokes gained approach, tee to green, and tied for the top spot in strokes gained total and driving accuracy.
“I would trade the money for another win and more majors,” he admitted. “People don’t understand how good it feels.”
That’s $18 million he would trade this week. That’s how much it means to win.
Xander Schauffele has won here before. Unfortunately, it was the year that Justin Thomas won the FedEx Cup, which at the time was separated from winning the tournament. It was also before Schauffele won his Olympic medal. Thomas got all the press, not Schauffele.
He might have a want-to-win the FedEx Cup that’s pretty big.
“I need to go out and try and put as much pressure on him tomorrow on that front nine as I can and hope for the best,” Schauffele said.
He said the only way to make it easier on himself was to be closer to the top coming into the week. Also, he noted, Hovland has been working hard on his game.
“I was out late, and he was one of the guys I always saw until dark as well. So, no surprise,” Schauffele added.
Jon Rahm may be a victim of his own success. As one golf writer said this week, if you win the lottery, do you keep buying lottery tickets?
With Rahm winning the Masters, a tournament that is huge in Spain because of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, has it been hard for him to get back on the horse and charge forward for one more big victory? He might need some downtime to relish it, and he hasn’t gotten any yet.
However, his competitive nature makes him go out and do what he is able to do after winning a tournament that meant so much.
And that leaves Scottie Scheffler. He needs a nickname like Big ‘Un or Happy Feet or something. He won The Players, which deposited $4.5 million more in his bank account which has grown exponentially this season.
It’s interesting to ponder how many tournaments he might have won this season if his putting was just a touch better. He’s 145th for the season. For the week, he’s 25th in strokes gained putting out of 30 players. But his ball striking is keeping him in contention.
He’s second in driving distance and T4 in greens in regulation. And when it seems like he’s out of contention, you blink and whoops, he’s right back in it. After losing to McIlroy last year, he has to want this one. He just needs to start making some 6-7-8 footers.
But we can’t feel sorry for Scottie. He’s won more than $21 million already this season with two victories and a ton of top tens. He doesn’t ever have to think about money again in his life. Like most top players, he doesn’t. He thinks about winning.
Based on what we have seen so far, it looks more like Viktor Hovland will march into the victory circle on Sunday. But it’s golf, and anything can happen. The closest pursuer is Schauffele who is six back. That’s some missed putts and a couple drives pulled into the trees. Golf is never easy, and when there’s $18 million on the line, no matter what any of them say, it’s attention-getting.
Everybody gets nervous over putts that mean something. A putt to win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup means a lot, even to guys who never have to worry about finding their next meal.