The top contenders at the Tour Championship in Atlanta

By Ron Furlong
paul casey
Paul Casey (Photo: Torrey Wiley)

paul casey

The Fed Ex Cup play-offs are down to the final event, the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The field will be limited to the top 30 players in the Fed Ex Cup standings from the PGA Tour.

Several notable players did not make the final 30, including the world’s number one ranked player, Tiger Woods. In addition to Woods, names such as Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Vijay Singh failed to make the cut.

Here are fifteen names (half the field) that have a legitimate shot at winning the event to be played at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, which was the home course of Bobby Jones:

15. Camilo Villegas: The Columbian is one of only four players who made the final 30 at Cog Hill in the last tournament. He has played well of late and could be a surprise factor in Atlanta. Villegas won the Honda Classic earlier in the year.

14. Ryan Moore: Moore, like Villegas, played his way in with a strong showing at Cog Hill. He finished third at the Chicago tournament, which barely got him into the top 30; he sits 26th heading in to the final.

13. Zach Johnson: Playing very well since about mid-September. In fact, he played himself onto Cory Pavin’s Ryder Cup side. Johnson sits 19th in the Fed Ex Cup standings and has been climbing ever steadily.

12. K.J. Choi: Choi also played himself into the final with a third place finish at Cog Hill. It boosted him all the way to 23rd in the standings. Choi could pull this off. The course is fairly short with big penalties for missing the fairways. This could favor his game.

11. Retief Goosen: Goosen has made the cut in exactly half of the 18 tournaments he has played in so far this year. An impressive statistic. Although, on the downside, nothing better than a third place—he’ll compete, but probably not win.

10. Ernie Els: A great start to the year but the veteran South African has cooled down the stretch. Still has an outside shot at player of the year should he win here.

9. Phil Mickelson: The year started out well for the world’s number two player, with a win at The Masters in Augusta, but has not been the dominant year we normally see from Mickelson. No other wins and a few missed cuts thrown in. Did play well at Cog Hill. Can win this tournament, but unlikely to win the Fed Ex Cup itself or player of the year.

8. Justin Rose: Rose had everything going a few months ago, but that train has slowed a bit, if not quite derailed. Although he can no longer win player of the year, he can win this tournament. Played well at Cog Hill.

7. Bubba Watson: Watson has had good year, but this course does not suit his “smash it” approach off the tee. He has also cooled a bit the last couple of events.

6. Luke Donald: No wins this year, but two seconds and two thirds. Donald is overdue and would like nothing more than to head into the Ryder Cup with the Tour Championship trophy.

5. Tim Clark: Good on a shorter track, which could make him a factor. Quietly has had a very strong year and could pull this win off.

4. Dustin Johnson: Winner at Cog Hill and still has a chance for player of the year. Seems to have overcome collapse at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Second in Fed Ex Cup points.

3. Steve Stricker: Mr. Consistency on the PGA Tour. Always a factor. Fourth in Fed Ex Cup coming into the final.

2. Matt Kuchar: Odds-on favorite to win player of the year, although this is still wide open. Could pull of the tri-fecta: Tour Championship win, Fed Ex Cup point winner and player of the year.

1. Paul Casey: The biggest Ryder Cup omission in the history of the Ryder Cup, Casey could really make Colin Montgomerie, who left him off the European team, sweat by winning this tournament. He has been playing brilliantly for the last couple of months and has as good a shot as anyone in the field.

The winner of the Tournament will bag around $1.3 million. The winner of the Fed Ex Cup will also be determined, and he will take home $10 million American.

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