It's the 2014 PGA Tour season finale and five guys have the 10 million dollar bonanza within their grasp at East Lake. Only Chris Kirk at 41.00 - Billy Horschel at 21.00, Bubba Watson at 15.00, Hunter Mahan at 26.00 and Rory McIlroy have the lucrative prize in their own hands. A win for any of these first five in the Fedex Cup rankings would guarantee top spot. Mathematically any of the 29 players teeing it up in Atlanta can still win one of golf's most coveted prizes.
Rory McIlroy - 5.00 - is the big favourite for both the Tour championship and the Fedex Cup in the build up to the event. A couple of four-putts cost him a chance at Victory last week and he'll be keen to put that right and round up what has been a career year for the Irishman ahead of the upcoming Ryder Cup trip to Gleneagles. Jim Furyk - 12.00 - winner in 2010 at East Lake - is in the form of his life with five top 10s in seven and the veteran course specialist may be the one most likely to put it up to Rory here.
The course - East Lake
Playing circa 7,300 yards to a par 70, East Lake was restored to its original fast and firm test after green renovations in 2008. Bermuda grass replaced Bentgrass and it also now lines the fairways and surrounds the surfaces. A general major type test, East Lake did play a little easier in 2013 after the widening of 8 landing areas so the bombers currently have a little more room to manoeuvre. Approaches into large, firm surfaces will be key this week. From my notes, finding the right part of the greens or missing in the right place on errant approaches so as not to short side yourself, is imperative ala Muirfield Village for the Memorial.
Two to challenge
Bubba Watson - 15.00 or 3.25 - is in a confident mood ahead of the season finale, a stark contrast to the last few majors where he all but talked himself out of contention before a ball was hit. Bubba didn't play here in 2013 but will enjoy the extra room off the tee on the back of a T2 at Cherry Hills where he led the field in strokes gained from tee to green and closed with three successive 66s. Bubba was tied for 5th at East Lake in 2012 and just missed out at the Memorial to my second pick...
Hideki Matsuyama - 46.00 or 8.00 - snatched the Memorial title from the clutches of Bubba Watson down the stretch on the Sunday and this was in large part due to excellent accuracy with his irons. Indeed Hideki has carried this on, ranking 4th in proximity to the hole at the BMW Championship to card a -4 total - finishing strongly - and push himself on to Atlanta. Matsuyama actually tops the charts in both approaches from 100-125 yards and 150-175 yards and looks to me to be about to hit 1st gear once again. He's excellent value in just a 29 man field.
Morgan Hoffmann is in the form of his life right now off the back of a top 10 in New York followed by a T2 at Cherry Hills. Hoffmann began each of the Fedex events outside the projections but rallied over the past three weeks wrapping up with an astonishing weekend 62-63 to force himself into the Atlanta field. He says he's striking it beautifully, and he could be a dark horse at 51.00 or 9.00 the top five finish.
Cameron Tringale was tied 2nd at Ridgewood and it's taken him a little time to readjust. A pair of closing 68s though at Cherry Hills hints Cameron may be about to end the season with a strong performance. Tringale went to college at nearby Georgia Tech so will be familiar with the area. Capable of birdie streaks he may be worth siding with in the first round leader market where he's 15.00 to occupy a top five slot on the leaderboard after 18 holes.