GOLF fans are expecting big things from the 2012 Tour Championship this week with the stars aligning for what should be a momentous battle at the historic East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The season long FedEx Cup race is down to the final 30 competitors and there’s a lot to like about the makeup of the field and the form many of the top competitors have been displaying.
The mechanics of the US PGA Tour Playoff event has also been fine tuned in its relatively short history to ensure an open as possible end to the points race.
That aspect is best illuminated by the fact that that overall leader Rory McIlroy, winner of two of the three playoff events, can finish second on Sunday and still not win the FedEx Cup. In earlier years he would have had a cake-walk.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this type of feel, this type of excitement, this type of understanding of the championship’s significance,” said Rob Johnson, Tournament Chairman, this week, revealing every ticket for the event sold out in advance.
The field comprises all 21 golfers at the top of the world rankings and will again be led by the delicious pairing of McIlroy and Tiger Woods. Finishing first and second in the Playoff rankings, the pair are automatically bracketed together for at least the first two rounds.
If either of these two golfers, or the remaining players in the Playoff top five rankings – Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker – win this event they take not only the $US1.4 million winner’s cheque and trophy but also the FedEx Cup and its massive $US10 winner’s bonus.
If there is any other tournament winner then who the Cup and bonus cheque goes to depends on where others finish.
Australia’s two participants, Adam Scott (21st) and John Senden (29th), will need a minor miracle to take home the major cheque.
Scott, for instance, needs not only to win but have McIlroy finish 13th or worse, Woods fifth or worse, and other results to fall neatly into place.
Scott was talking up his chances this week, saying that despite the fact he hasn’t had a win this year (the only golfer in the world top 16 not to do so) he is playing the best golf of his career and success is not far off.
Scott will be paired in the first two rounds with British Open nemesis Ernie Els, and the result at Royal Lytham earlier this year is a stark example of how close the Australian has been to fulfilling his long term goals.
“Cumulatively I shot better than anyone in all four majors and I was one putt away on the last green at the US Open and PGA from a top 10 in all of them,” the 32 year old said in Atlanta.
“I have enjoyed the way I have gone about it the last year and a half a lot and it’s been an enjoyable experience and a satisfying one but at some point you have to flick the switch back to winning, that’s the way you are going to be world No.1.
“Now the short-term focus is back to this week and I’d really like to win just for the pure satisfaction of beating everybody.
“I still have five or six tournaments to play this year including this one and I feel like I can win a few of them the way I’m playing.”
2012 Tour Championship Australian TV Times
The Tour Championship is being telecast live in Australia on Fox Sports beginning Friday. There are the usual daily replays.
LIVE. 1st Round: 3am – 8am. 2nd Round: 3am – 8am. 3rd Round: 2am – 8am. Final Round: 2am – 8am.
2012 Tour Championship Leaderboard2012 Tour Championship Leaderboard
FedEx Cup Live Projected Standings