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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Finally... the Finals!

At long last we've arrived! It's time for the 30 top players in the FedExCup rankings to tee it up at East Lake. Let's take a few moments to see just what's on tap this week.

First, a brief comment... Tiger's penalty at the BMW is apparently still a topic of discussion this week. I'd just like to bring up one aspect of the debate which I have yet to hear mentioned. TV commentators frequently point out that CAMERA IRISES make a scene look much brighter than it really is... and Tiger's ball was in a very shaded area. Take a good look at the copy released by the PGA Tour:

Look at how dark this is, even with the camera! Just compare the skin on Tiger's hand against the background. There's mud on the ball. And when Tiger walks out of the bushes, you can tell the sun's behind the clouds.

When Tiger says he didn't see the ball move, I think that's entirely believable. In fact, even knowing the movement is there, I missed it some of the times I watched the video -- it happens so quickly that it's easy to miss, especially since it's in a dark area.

Enough said. Let's move on, shall we?

The Top5 in the rankings "control their own destiny" since, if they win the Tour Championship, they also win the Cup:
  1. Tiger Woods
  2. Henrik Stenson
  3. Adam Scott
  4. Zach Johnson
  5. Matt Kuchar
In some ways this list is a bit of a surprise. Given how they were playing when the Playoffs began, I thought Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker would likely be in this group. Instead, Mickelson's #8 and Sneds is #10. Stenson, while his win may have been a bit unexpected, certainly wasn't a surprise given his play over the last couple of months. But I'm amazed that Tiger is still in first place, given his back problems over the last couple of events.

My original choice to win the Cup, Jordan Spieth, is a bit of a long shot now since he's dropped from #8 to #13. Still, he's playing well enough to have a shot at the Tour Championship; he'll just need some help to win the Cup. (Most problematically, he needs Tiger to finish T8 or worse.)

So who has the best chance to win the Tour Championship? (Let's face it, Tiger's the odds-on favorite to win the Cup because the #1 rank always is. If he just plays decently, there are probably only 6 or 7 guys with a realistic chance to beat him.) My picks, in no particular order, are:
  • Zach Johnson: Zach has been playing very well for several months now. He's one of the few players I think has enough juice in the tank to back up a win with another win.
  • Nick Watney: Watney made a huge jump in the rankings last week, primarily because his putting was better. If he can just keep the flat stick working, he's striking it well enough to win.
  • Jim Furyk: The closer Furyk gets, the more determined he gets. I think last week's 59 will give him enough good thoughts to get him into contention again.
  • Steve Stricker: What can I say? He had a bad final 9 Monday... but I don't think he can bear the thought of missing a hunting trip without getting into the hunt at East Lake.
  • Jason Day: I just have a feeling about Jason. He's played really well this year in big tournaments. This could be his week.
Here are a couple more interesting pages at that you might be interested in as well:
  • The Power Rankings are how Rob Bolton, the fantasy league guy, is rating each player's chances. I was surprised to learn that Day, Johnson, Furyk, and Watney were 4-7 on his list. (Stricks is way down at 20.) It's rare for me to match the fantasy guys!
  • The ever-confusing but vitally important Scenario page will tell you what each player needs to do -- and have happen for him -- in order for him to win. (In case you're interested, the main obstacle for Day-- like Spieth -- may be getting Tiger to finish T8 or worse.)
And there you have it. The Tour Championship starts Thursday at 1pm ET on GC. (I suppose there will be a PreGame Show as well.)

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