Tour Championship 2019 : This is a weird week. We’re not talking about the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship format. This isn’t the column for those debates. We’re talking about wagering on this new Tour Championship setup. How significant is Justin Thomas’ two-shot lead, and who realistically has a chance?
Let’s look at the data we have available to us. Of the 18 standard stroke-play tournaments since the Masters, only three times has the first-round leader gone on to win (Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship, Nate Lashley at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and Justin Thomas last week at the BMW Championship). In fact, there have been four times where the eventual winner of the tournament was six strokes back of the first-round lead, or more (Matthew Wolff was seven back, Kevin Na, C.T. Pan and Brooks Koepka at the FedEx St. Jude were six back). Keep in mind, this exercise looked at how far back the winner was after 18 holes. The Tour Championship will have a full 72 holes to play … so could someone like Hideki Matsuyama or Tony Finau, who are both seven back of Thomas, actually win? Using this season as a sample set of data, it suggests it’s a definite possibility.
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Our expert picks this week, just like it has each week this season, include a PGA Tour caddie offering insight from the range and putting green at East Lake Golf Club, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; picks from Sobel from, a senior writer at The Action Network, which is becoming the leader in sports betting and handicapping analysis, and it’s growing its presence in golf; two of the most respected experts in the daily-fantasy community, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports, which tracks DFS ownership and sentiment; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
PGA Tour Caddie Guest Picker of the Week: Patrick Cantlay (+475 — $100 wins $475) — He’s only two back to start the tournament, and obviously he’s playing really well. JT just played a little better at Medinah. But I think the conditions in Atlanta, barring weather, East Lake is a harder course and suited more toward Patrick’s game. JT got the best of Patrick in Chicago and I think Patrick returns the favor this week.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Rory McIlroy (+950) — We know Rory loves East Lake. And with some people still talking about Rory’s year like it was somehow disappointing, he’d love to prove them wrong by taking home the $15-plus-million dollar check.