This week brings the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, but the tournament will have a new look. The PGA Tour has implemented a revised format: players will start the event anywhere from even par to 10 under par, based on where they are in the FedEx Cup standings. In years past, we have sometimes had two “winners,” with one player receiving the Tour Championship trophy and another taking home the FedEx Cup. This year, however, the winner of both the event and the Tour Championship will be one and the same.
This format change makes things interesting for both DraftKings and One-and-Done leagues. Players more than five shots back will most likely need to career it to have a chance at the title. It’s bad enough giving up five or more shots to one pro. But starting various margins back of the the Rorys, Brookses, and JTs of the world? That makes your task almost impossible.
Moreover, it’s not easy to come from behind at a course like East Lake. Unless conditions become very soft, it is hard to make a lot of birdies there. The greens tend to be firm and the rough tends to make approaches hard to control. In the past 11 years, the lowest winning score has been -13. I would be surprised, therefore, if the winner came from outside the top 10 in the current standings (-4 or better). Since those players are the most expensive and also obvious picks, let’s take a look at some relative dark horses for our lineups.
Prices are heavily depressed for any players outside the top 10. This is because the DraftKings pricing model is mostly based on odds to win. We do need to realize, however, that with everyone playing four rounds this week, we should consider guys who play this course well and make a lot of birdies. The difference between finishing fifth and 20th is only nine points, equivalent to three birdies over the course of the event. Sure, I would like all my players to finish in the top 10, but that may not even be feasible this week given the salary structure.
So here are some players outside the current top 10 to consider:
Paul Casey $7,500
Casey is a tee-to-green specialist who has had great under-the-radar success at East Lake. In his five appearances, he has finished 11th or better every time and in the top five four times.
Justin Rose $6,900
I expect Rose to be the highest-owned golfer this week. His price is super low for such a high caliber player—not to mention on who has had great success at East Lake. He has finished in the top 10 in each of his past six trips to the course. His game is based on tee-to-green consistency, which helps explain why he has done well here year after year. At $6,900, he is criminally underpriced and a near must-play for me.
If your league is still going this week, the choice is fairly simple. Play your best available player. I wouldn’t worry that much about ownership percentages, as most people probably picked your player at some point earlier in the year. Odds are you probably don’t have many, if any, of the top players left: JT, Rory, Koepka, Cantlay or Rahm. That likely leaves you choosing from those who need to catch fire for a chance to win, as they are trailing the top players by multiple shots entering the event.