FedExCup win probabilities for the top players at the TOUR Championship

The road to East Lake concludes with this week’s TOUR Championship, where 29 players (minus Will Zalatoris, back injury) will compete for a massive bonus payout. Merely qualifying for this field is a tremendous achievement, and nine players will be making their first career TOUR Championship start.

Scottie Scheffler’s robust body of work in 2022 (four wins, including the Masters) gives him a head start this week at East Lake, but the FedExCup is far from decided. To get an idea of ​​how quickly a lead can evaporate on the PGA TOUR, just look at 18-hole leads on TOUR over the last 15 seasons. In that time span, players who led by two shots after the first round only went on to win 14 percent of the time. Of the 10 players who held a lead of four shots or more after round one since 2007, only three went on to win.

Twenty First Group ran 10,000 simulations to shake out the probabilities of every possible outcome this weekend in Atlanta. By the numbers, eight players have at least a 4 percent chance of winning it all.

Sam Burns
Starting strokes: -5
FedExCup win probability: 4.1%

When Burns knocked off world no. 1 Scottie Scheffler in a playoff at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May it was his third win of the 2021-22 season and moved him to second in the FedExCup. He’s cooled off since then and ranks 31st in Strokes Gained: Total since the US Open began on June 15. That could be changing, though, as Burns is coming off back-to-back top-20 finishes and has a 68.2 scoring average in his last nine rounds.

Statistics of the season: Burns and Cameron Smith are the only two players ranked in the top 15 this season in both Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting.

Tony Finau
Starting strokes: -4
FedExCup win probability: 4.1%

His opening-round 77 at the BMW Championship was a random smudge on an otherwise flawless mural. In Finau’s last 19 TOUR rounds he has a scoring average of 67.6 and has only failed to break par once – that ugly Thursday 77 at the BMW. Finau has a steep hill to climb this week in Atlanta, but he gained more than three full strokes Tee-to-Green in the final round last week, a positive harbinger for East Lake.

Statistics of the season: After ranking 66th on TOUR in greens in regulation percentage last season, Finau is ranked 5th in 2021-22.

Jon Rahm
Starting strokes: -3
FedExCup win probability: 4.3%

Nine players have multiple wins this season on TOUR. Surprisingly, Rahm isn’t one of them – his lone victory came at the Mexico Open at Vidanta in the spring. Rahm hasn’t played poorly (he’s third on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Total), but the bar for him is justifiably sky-high. When he dipped to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking earlier this month, it snapped a streak of 138 straight weeks in the top five.

One reason to believe Rahm might make a run at it this week: He was 10 under and bogey-free for the weekend at the BMW Championship.

Statistics of the season: Rahm is averaging 10.4 more yards off the tee on measured drives this season than last. He leads the TOUR in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee.

Starting strokes: -4
FedExCup win probability: 4.5%

Health is the biggest question facing Smith, as he missed the BMW with a hip injury. There are no questions, though, about the state of his game – his approach play has grown to rival how good he’s always been on and around the greens. Smith has improved his Strokes Gained: Approach ranking by 50 spots this season, from 53rd to 3rd. He is also the TOUR leader in birdie average after ranking outside the top 100 just three years ago.

Statistics of the season: Smith is the second player to win THE PLAYERS and The Open in the same season. Jack Nicklaus did it in 1978.

Rory McIlroy
Starting strokes: -4
FedExCup win probability: 7.6%

Only one player in the field this week – Adam Scott – has more previous starts at East Lake than Rory McIlroy does (this will be his ninth). Despite starting six shots behind Scheffler, Twenty First Group gives McIlroy between a seven and eight percent chance of winning it all this week, which would make him the first man to win the FedExCup three times. Among those with 10 or more rounds played at East Lake over the last decade, McIlroy leads all players in birdie average (4.82).

Statistics of the season: In the four majors this season, McIlroy accumulated 53.6 Strokes Gained: Total. That was the most in a season by a player without a major victory in that season since Ernie Els in 2004 (60.2).

Xander Schauffele
Starting strokes: -6
FedExCup win probability: 8.4%

Probably unbeknownst to him, Xander Schauffele had a putt on the final hole Sunday afternoon at the BMW Championship that would have reshaped this week’s championship. If Schauffele had made his birdie putt on 18, he would have finished alone in third place, pushing Scottie Scheffler back to fourth. That difference would have put Patrick Cantlay in the top spot entering this week instead of Scheffler. It was the latest example of just how close this season-long race can be.

In 20 career TOUR Championship rounds, Schauffele has never shot over par. His career scoring average of 67.3 is by far the best of any player in the last decade.

Statistics of the season: Schauffele has not shot over par in the final round of a TOUR event all season. In fact, he hasn’t done that since September of 2020.

Patrick Cantley
Starting strokes: -8
FedExCup win probability: 20.1%

Cantlay became the first player in FedExCup Playoffs history to successfully defend a title at a specific event at the BMW. He can do one better this week by defending his TOUR Championship title to become the first to win the FedExCup in consecutive seasons. The numbers give him a better than one-in-five chance to pull it off.

In eight starts since the PGA Championship, Cantlay has finished inside the top 15 seven times. Since June 1, he ranks 16th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, 9th in Strokes Gained: Putting and 4th in Strokes Gained: Total.

Statistics of the season: Cantlay ranked 64th on TOUR in putting inside 10 feet last season. He’s 3rd in 2021-22.

Scottie Scheffler
Starting strokes: -10
FedExCup win probability: 29.1%

The PGA TOUR Player of the Year award has been given out since 1990. Never has a player been winless to start a season and gone on to earn that distinction – something Scheffler could wrap up with a victory this week in Georgia. The last time the world’s best gathered in the Peach State, Scheffler was making his first career start as world no. 1. We all know how that turned out.

The single biggest statistical factor in Scheffler’s ascent has been his approach play, which went from good to extraordinary in 2022. Scheffler jumped from 83rd on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Approach last season to 4th this year, an improvement of about +2.73 strokes per 72 holes in that discipline alone.

Statistics of the season: Scheffler hit world no. 1 just 42 days after securing his first career win on either the PGA or DP World Tours, the fastest-ever rise to the top. The previous record was 252 days by Tiger Woods in 1997.

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