Who wouldn’t love to get 10 strokes?
This weekend, the top ranked golfers on the PGA Tour will play in the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. The winner will take home a whopping $18 million bonus. That’s a lot of money! The format of the tournament can be a little confusing, so here’s a little breakdown of how it works.
The Tour Championship is the only PGA Tour event that uses a Starting Strokes format, which was first introduced in 2019. This is a staggered system whereby the golfer in the top position will start the Tour Championship at 10 under, the No. 2 golfer will start at 8 under and so on from there. This system was established to give players at the top of the points list the reward of a starting advantage in the Tour Championship.
This year points leader, Scottie Scheffler will begin at 10-under par on Thursday, which is 2 strokes ahead of Patrick Cantlay, who is starting at 8 under. Xander Schauffele will start 6 under and Sam Burns will begin at 5 under. The next five players will start the tournament at 4 under, regressing by one stroke every five players until those ranked Nos. 26-30 are at even par.
Will Zalatoris withdrew due to an injury so there will only be 29 players in the field. He would have started at 7 under. Players go off in groups of 2, with No. 30, Aaron Wise playing as a single the first day.
While it’s good to have an advantage going into the tournament, we all know that a two-stroke lead can disappear quickly. As history shows, the winner doesn’t always start with a 2-stroke lead.
In 2019, Rory McIlroy started at 5-under par, 5 strokes behind Justin Thomas, 3 strokes behind Patrick Cantlay, 2 strokes behind Brooks Koepka, and 1 stroke behind Patrick Reed. McIlroy won the Tour Championship by 4 strokes ahead of Xander Schauffele (who had started at 4 under) and took home the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus.
In 2020, Dustin Johnson started the Tour Championship at 10-under par and won by 3 strokes over Xander Schauffele. He also won the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus.
In 2021, Patrick Cantlay was in the No. 1 position going into the Tour Championship. He had started at 10-under par and ended up winning by one stroke over Jon Rahm and claimed the $15 million FedEx Cup bonus.
Who will win it this year? Will Scottie Scheffler hang on to the lead like Johnson and Cantlay the previous two years? Will Cantlay make FedEx Cup Playoffs history by winning two in a row? Or will Xander Schauffele finally win it this year after coming so close in 2019 and 2020?
By the way, the top 10 finishers in the field all make at least $1 million and the last place finisher takes home $500,000. That’s not a bad way to finish the season! Enjoy watching.