- Daniel Berger (7) – Man, he has looked bad in the playoffs. 33-33-61 in three events isn’t the Daniel Berger we fell in love with not many months ago. His putter must have gone on vacation with Matsuyama’s putter, and Berger is hoping it returns to the bag for the Bermuda surfaces of East Lake. In two trips to Atlanta, Berger has given us T12-T15 and five of the eight rounds have been at 69 or better. If you want to take a ‘C’ gamble, his class is there and he could come from nowhere to surprise. I just won’t be betting on it.
- Patrick Cantlay (10) – Cantlay is an incredible story. In just 12 starts this year, he’s playing for the FedEx Cup. T10-T13-T9 in three playoff starts is ridiculous, and he leads the field in playoff Scrambling and is tied with Spieth for the GIR lead. Though he has almost no chance to win the playoffs and the money, a top-10 finish in his tournament debut isn’t a stretch. So far, there isn’t anything this kid can’t do, and the rest of the Tour should be on notice. I’m not sure yet who is riding shotgun with Rahm, but Cantlay is at least in the car.
- Jason Dufner (8) – Seeing Dufner at 30th in the standings and watching him back in with playoff finishes of 20-69-58 will drive most away. Dig a little deeper… and it still doesn’t look good. If I could find any reason to take the risk, I’d go for it, primarily because of his top-10 finishes in his last two trips here. I just can’t do it.
- Tony Finau (4) – Finau doesn’t have a lot going for him besides a T7 finish last week. He hasn’t played competitively at East Lake, and he comes in with T54-T65 before the BMW. He sits ninth in the playoffs in SG:Tee, but he hasn’t been accurate and his putting and scrambling have been putrid. Finau has had many good finishes on Bermuda greens, and he could shock everyone by overpowering the course, but I would be amazed to see him in the top-five. If you want to wager on length, take the ride.
- Sergio Garcia (3) – I just can’t tell if he cares. Sergio has had the year of his life, capturing the Masters in April and marrying his girlfriend over the summer. He’s already rich beyond his dreams, so the $10 million isn’t a major driver. Nobody in the field has played here more than the nine trips Sergio has made, and while the course hasn’t been terribly kind to him, T9 in each of his last two trips is pretty solid against an elite field. He’s still 13th in SG:T2G for the season and fired all four rounds in the 60s last week. I just think he’s content, and that won’t be good enough this week.
- Brian Harman (10) – Harman was a great story earlier in the season when he seemed to contend everywhere, including at Erin Hills, which should have been way too long for him. That said, his recent history is sour, including T65 at the Dell Technologies Championship and T40 last week. This is his first trip to East Lake, and I don’t envision he will leave with a top-10 finish.
- Russell Henley (7) – In Henley’s only trip to East Lake, he posted T12 in 2014. The trend is fading in the playoffs, with 25-40-47 on the board so far. Henley is a bit of a par-70 specialist, but nothing supports a surprise victory this week. I simply don’t need him.
- Brooks Koepka (4) – It has been a tale of two seasons for Koepka. He was broken early in the year, then fixed something in his mechanics and went on a torrid run, which included winning the U.S. Open and contending every week for some time. He seems to be fading again, although his 63 last Sunday helped him backdoor a T12. He’s fifth in SG:Tee in the playoffs, and there is no denying his class, but I’m torn on whether he’ll step up this week on a course where he finished T18 in his only trip two years ago. Koepka is on the short list.
- Pat Perez (9) – Perez is hot, showing up on the heels of T6-T12 in the playoffs. He begins his maiden voyage at East Lake ranked seventh in SGP during the last three weeks. The rest of his game looks solid as well. He has four top-25s on Bermuda greens this season, and many other high finishes on the surface over the years. With many other safer ‘C’ choices, I’ll fade Perez… but I hope he wins this weekend because the post-round interview would be great.
- Jon Rahm (2) – I should be fired for not using Rahm for all four playoff events, as he has given us 3-4-5 in three weeks. I saved four starts to run him through the entire FedEx Cup Playo…. never mind. Just use him this week. Besides having elite distance and ball-striking, he leads the 30 pros remaining in SGP and sits second in Scrambling. The kid is already a superstar, and a victory this week brings him a huge payday and likely a move near the top of the OWGR. Like several above, no further thoughts required. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!
- Xander Schauffele (10) – T17 at the Northern Trust was impressive, and his T20 last week was solid, but it remains exceeding difficult for a rookie to take home a trophy in the playoffs. This year’s rookie class was solid, and Schauffele was one of the best, but I’ll leave the Tour Championship to the big boys and look for him to return to the dance next year.
- Kyle Stanley (7) – Still one of the best strikers of the ball in the world, Stanley has hit a rut. He has no top-20 finishes in his last eight starts, and he could only muster up a T47 last week to prepare for East Lake. There are many better options in the ‘C’ group.
2017 Tour Championship Yahoo! Roster
- A – Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler
- B – Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, and Hideki Matsuyama
- C – Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay
The ‘B’ groups scares me a bit, as I fear leaving Kuchar and Chappell out. Matsuyama has a better chance to win than those two, so he earns the fourth spot. I’m pleased to have one start left for DJ, Fowler, Rose, and Casey, as I’m thinking not many of those who still care will have all four in action. Thomas and Matsuyama are also nice to have available, and I’m expecting to trot Rahm out there for all four rounds.
As for the victor? It should be a wonderful finish, as Spieth, DJ, Fowler, Rose, and Thomas could all be fighting for the lead come Sunday. If Leishman is able to reign victorious, he would pull off an improbable FedEx Cup Championship, and Rahm could still find the winner’s circle and the lump of cash. If I had to gamble on it, I’d take Spieth, DJ and Fowler as my podium finishers.
I will Tweet out my starters on Wednesday night – right now, it doesn’t look like weather will be a huge factor, but that could change quickly. Make sure to hit me up @commishjoe with questions, comments, or emotional outbursts. I want to thank everyone once more for reading this piece all season, and I hope this space has been helpful! thegolfnewsnet.com is one of the best golf sites on the planet, and I hope you will become a member to experience all it offers.
Next year, assuming Yahoo! decides to bring back the game, I’m considering opening my own fantasy golf group and hosting readers for a “Beat The Pro” league. That seems a bit arrogant, but it could be a lot of fun! If you are interested, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you on a list. The game usually opens up in December and starts with the Tournament of Champions, so we have time to organize it.
Enjoy the Tour Championship!