This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
TOUR Championship Betting Strategy
The 2019-20 PGA Tour season is coming to an end, as the 30 remaining golfers head to Atlanta for the TOUR Championship. The Tour unveiled a new format for the finale last year, and fortunately we'll no longer have to worry about a multitude of ways to determine the FedExCup Champion. Dustin Johnson enters the week in first place in the Standings, which means he will start at 10-under-par and own a two-shot lead over Jon Rahm when he heads to the first tee.
Last Year's Results
Horses For the Course
East Lake Golf Club plays as a long par-70 at over 7,300 yards, with the winning score typically between 11- to 13-under-par. There have been a variety of golfers both long and short off the tee that have won here; and with many holes requiring mid-to-long irons coming into the greens, approach play will be a key factor in the finale.
The following five players have the lowest scoring average – with a minimum of two appearances – in the TOUR Championship since 2015:
Schauffele has scored better than any other golfer in the last five years at East Lake, coming in at nearly a half shot better than McIlroy. It shows in the results, as he's picked up a win, a runner-up and a T7 result in his three appearances. Finau has the most ground to make up of the players on the list, as he'll start two-under-par and eight shots behind Johnson. It's not the spot Finau envisioned himself being in, but a missed cut to start the Playoffs put him behind the 8-Ball.
Coming In Hot
The following six golfers have gained the most strokes on approach over their last five tournaments:
Strokes Gained: Approach will be a key stat for success this week, and Johnson has been the best iron player on Tour of late. Palmer is probably the most interesting inclusion, as he comes in only behind Johnson. It should come as little surprise that he quietly posted three top-10s over his last five tournaments. He's lost strokes on the greens over that stretch, so don't be shocked if he climbs the leaderboard if his putter heats up. Thomas is the only player in the top five in both scoring average at East Lake and SG: Approach over his last five tournaments. He entered as the leader last year but lost the lead during the first round and settled for a share of third place. All signs point to him contending for the title this time around.
Finding the Value
With two-thirds of the field starting seven shots or more off the lead, there are a limited number of golfers that can legitimately become the FedExCup Champion. Let's take a look at some that could do it.
Collin Morikawa 22-1: Morikawa is making his debut at the TOUR Championship, but that doesn't mean he should be overlooked. He hasn't played his best since winning the PGA Championship and even had a rare missed cut at The Northern Trust. Nevertheless, 22-1 is a great price for one of the best players in the world, and he is starting only five shots back. The course should suit his game well.
Daniel Berger 28-1: Berger starts with the group of golfers in the 6-10 range at four-under-par and six shots back of Johnson. It's not too big of a margin to overcome, as just last year McIlroy won despite starting five shots back and Xander Schauffele finished second after starting in the same position as Berger. It's no secret how well Berger has played since play resumed, as he has notched a win and three other top-5 results over seven tournaments.
Hideki Matsuyama 33-1: Matsuyama was unable to hold onto his first-round lead last week, but the T3-finish was his first top-10 result since the Tour's restart, so the upward trend is promising. He has plenty experience at East Lake, having qualified for the TOUR Championship each of the last six seasons. Matsuyama is the biggest risk of the three to win the tournament as he starts at four-under-par, but he is a good bet for a top-3 finish at 8-1 odds.
You don't only have to bet on the winner. You can also bet on a top-5 finish, and the next two golfers are good bets to get there.
Billy Horschel 16-1: Horschel has played some of his best golf at East Lake, shooting 11-under-par en route to a win in 2014 and nine-under in a runner-up result two years ago. He'll start the tournament at even par, but with eight-under making the top-5 a year ago, either of Horschel's previous scores would be good enough to win this bet.
Abraham Ancer 20-1: Ancer is starting in the 21-25 group at one-under and will likely need to shoot six- or seven-under to crack the top-5. Ancer's accuracy off-the-tee and precise iron play should fit well at East Lake. He's also 11th in bogey avoidance, which will be of increased importance this week.
Notes to Know
Rory McIlroy announced over the weekend that he and his wife are expecting their first child at any time, which he said has caused him to lose focus at times since the Tour's restart. He's still scheduled to tee it up as of now, but is a risk for an early withdrawal. While normally a great pick here, he's nothing more than a daily fantasy sports option if you're looking for a low-owned, high-salary pick with upside.
Harris English and Brendon Todd both head home to Georgia, where they played collegiately about an hour away from the host site in Atlanta – and where Todd currently resides. It's quite the turnaround for both players, who had to play well in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals last year just to secure their PGA Tour cards. It's probably too big of an ask to expect either to win this week, as English's last win came in 2013 and Todd begins seven shots back. Regardless, English enters the week playing arguably the best golf of his career, gaining 1.64 total strokes per round over his last five tournaments.