The Tour Championship Preview and Picks

Tournament: The TOUR Championship
Date: Thursday, Sept. 25 - Sunday, Sept. 28
Location: East Lake Country Club - Atlanta, Georgia
Television: The Golf Channel/NBC

Summer is officially over and the PGA season comes to a close with the TOUR Championship this week from Atlanta. East Lake Country Club hosts the final event in the FedExCup Playoffs which will be missing some drama due to Vijay Singh locking up the Playoff crown should he simply finish all four rounds in this no-cut tournament. Still, the 30 most successful players from ’08 are out to claim their share of the $7 million purse and bragging rights for a year as winner of this very prestigious title. Thursday and Friday action can be seen on The Golf Channel with NBC picking up the weekend coverage. XM 146 carries coverage and updates throughout the week.

The East Lake Country Club has become the permanenthome of the TOUR Championship and will crown a new champ this year as Tiger Woods will not repeat his ’07 win. The course plays at par-70 and measures 7,154 yards for the week. The finishing hole is a bit of an oddity on Tour as few courses end with a par-3. The 18th is no gimme, measuring 235 yards and sporting a two tiered green. The hole is ripe for Sunday fireworks with bunkering and the possibility of a three putt. As always, greens in regulation will be key to lower scores and a hot putter will find it’s way into the winner’s circle.


BET ON PGA EVENTS (HEAD TO HEAD AND GOLFER TO WIN TOURNAMENT)
USING YOUR CREDIT CARD AT PLAYERS
ONLY

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and make a pick to win from a short, middle and long odds look. We’ll also pick a few head to head match winners as well. This week’s odds are courtesy of the board at 5Dimes.

Vijay Singh
11 to 2 to win and 1 to 1 for a top-5 finish(including ties)
Singh is your ’08 FedExCup Champ on the strength of back to back wins at the Barclays and Deutsche Bank. A made cut at the BMW sealed the deal for Singh and the $10 mil is his even with a last place finish. Singh isn’t the type to mail it in and is rightly the favorite here, especially given the two weeks off he received due to Ryder Cup scheduling. Singh is 8th in greens hit and has moved his putting average into the top-80 to erase his only iffy stat line. Vijay is the ’02 winner here and ran T7 last year.

Phil Mickelson
9 to 1 and 7 to 4
Mickelson has T19, T23 and T17 finishes in the Playoffs, and that has pretty much summed up Lefty’s season. Phil has a ton of top-25’s yet has dissapointed a bit with no hot streaks and no wins with Tiger out. Mickelson has the goods to win this week with top-35 ranks in driving distance, greens hit and putting average. The driver needs to be straighter to contend, but no one is better than recovering from jail than Phil. Lefty leads the Tour in scoring average at 69.52 and is the 1st ranked All Around player.

Sergio Garcia
9 to 1 and 7 to 4
Sergio was streaking into the break with T2, T5 and T20 finishes in the Playoff events, but might be fuming a bit after a less than successful Ryder Cup. Don’t put too much weight on any of the Ryder Cup participants results as there is no connection between medal and match play, especially in that atmosphere. Garcia is strong off the tee and is 25th in GIR%. Sergio has also solved the yips a bit, bringing his putting average down to 119th after lingering outside the top-150 for much of the season. Garcia owns the 2nd ranked scoring average on Tour and was solid here in ’07 with a solo 4th.

Jim Furyk
11 to 1 and 7 to 4
Still looking for a win this year, Furyk has been a rock in the Playoffs with T12, T7 and T3 finishes. Furyk is the ’06 runner-up at East Lake and gets it done with accuracy, hitting the 24th most fairways and 22nd most greens. Ranking 21st in total birdies has Furyk 10th in scoring at 69.94 strokes on average.

Anthony Kim
12 to 1 and 7 to 4
Kim is no longer under the radar given his two win season and Ryder Cup performance. The youngster looks ready to challenge the best in the game with 300+ yard drives and a top-20 putter. A few more fairways hit each round could make the 4th All Around player nearly unbeatable as the rest of the game is way above average. Kim has two top-15’s in the Playoffs and a T27 as his only non-contending run. Kim has shown no nerves in the strong field events and will be a good pick to win for years to come.

Camilo Villegas
14 to 1 and 9 to 4
Camilo stormed up the points list with a T3 at the Deutsche and a win at the BMW Championship. Villegas can go low with an 18th ranked putter and cashes in 3.81 birdies per 18, good for 3rd on Tour. A solid overall game has Villegas 6th in the All Around stat and he currently ranks 7th in scoring. Villegas has some TOUR Championship success, with a T9 in last year’s event.

Stewart Cink
20 to 1 and 5 to 1
Cink has not had the success of some others in the Playoffs, managing only a T33 as his best finish. Still, Cink has been solid all year, including a Travelers win and is our middle odds pick this week. Cink ran 11th on ’07 and is top-30 in driving distance, greens hit, putting and birdie average. That strong of a stat sheet is only a break here or there away from a victory.

Steve Stricker
33 to 1
Stricker makes our list as the longshot pick of the week with an uncomparable Playoff record that has not seen him outside the top-20 in any of his seven Playoff starts. Steve has T19, T13 and T10 runs this year and was T17 at East Lake in ’07. Stricker has struggled off the tee, ranking 200th in total driving, but has made up for it with a solid iron game and a dependable putter that keep the scoring average at 20th on Tour. Stricker isn’t a Tiger-like closer, but owns the second best final round scoring average at 68.93.

For the Win

Short: Anthony Kim - 12 to 1 - Kim is probably the most talented player in the field in terms of raw skill.

Middle of the Road: Stewart Cink - 20 to 1 - The scuffles should end on a favorable layout.

Longshot: Steve Stricker - 33 to 1 - Steady players tend to fare well in star-studded events.

Head to Head Matches (our pick)
(all matches are for entire tournament. Check your favorite golf sportsbook for daily matchups.)

Vijay Singh (-130) v. Phil Mickelson (EVEN) (Mickelson)
Can’t resist Lefty here as even money. Vijay is certainly hot, but the layoff could cool Singh while Phil could ride a Ryder Cup high.

Jim Furyk (-110) v. Anthony Kim (-120) (Kim)
This smells like a bit of a trap with Furyk motivated to win yet in ’08 but Kim is just too good right now to bet against.

Good Luck this week and stay in touch as we’ll keep up with the picks for the fall series of tournaments.