PATRICK CANTLAY is in great shape to be crowned FedEx Cup champion for the second year running – after winning a week later than we wanted him to!
Cantlay flopped for the first time in months at the first play-off event, the St Jude Invitational – when he was the top tip here – but bounced back to win the BMW Championship last week.
That hoisted the defending FedEx champion up to second in this year’s rankings behind world number one Scottie Scheffler, and the baffling handicap system in Atlanta means they will enjoy a head start over the rest of the field.
Cantlay is in the mood to overturn the two strokes deficit he has to concede to Scheffler. But betting on that handicap nonsense is both messy and confusing.
I prefer to concentrate on the 72 hole market, which has everyone starting level, as they would in every other event.
Rory McIlroy, who was a convincing winner here in 2018, heads the market yet again. His previous form at East Lake, and the fact that there are only 29 players in the field after the injured Will Zalatoris pulled out, suggests 7-1 is not a bad price.
But my money will be going elsewhere…
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Hot shot: Xander Schauffele, 13-2
Like Cantlay, Schauffele shrugged off a disappointing outing in the St Jude Invitational by finishing tied third last week – and the East Lake specialist practically begs to be supported here.
He won in Atlanta when he made his Tour Championship debut four years ago, was seventh the following year, and he has been first and third in the 72 hole market since they introduced the handicap system two years ago.
With last week’s close call coming on the back of wins at the Travelers Championship and the Scottish Open, he will do for me.
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Mid price: Tony Finau , 20-1
You have to wonder where that opening 77 in Delaware last week came from, as Finau was in sensational form leading into the play-offs, with back-to-back PGA Tour wins.
The big-hitter bounced back with three rounds in the sixties to claim a share of fifth place, and that will have done wonders for his confidence.
Finau’s record at East Lake is not great, but he has usually arrived under pressure to show he is worthy of a place among the world;’s top golfers. No questions on that score any more, so I expect a big improvement.
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Long shot: K.H. Lee, 250-1
Lee suffered the agony of finishing 31st on the FedEx standings last year, just missing out on the huge guaranteed pay day for every competitor at East Lake. Last place this week is worth a cool $500,000.
It looked like the Korean star might suffer the same fate until a final round 65 at the BMW lifted him into joint fifth place, and pushed him up to 26th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Lee is too far back on the handicap ratings to have any realistic chance of adding to this year’s Byron Nelson Classic victory, but he looks the type to do well in the 72 hole market.
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