A playoff win at the BMW Championship vaulted Patrick Cantlay to the top of the FedEx Cup standings, giving him the advantage heading into this week’s Tour Championship. But even with a multiple-shot lead, Cantlay will share the role of favorite with world No. 1 Jon Rahm in the season-ending event.
Cantlay begins the Tour Championship with a score of 10-under-par, two shots ahead of Northern Trust winner Tony Finau (-8).
Tour Championship format earns mixed reviews
Bryson DeChambeau (-7) follows in third, with Rahm (-6) and Cameron Smith (-5) also earning big benefits from their top-five places in the FedEx Cup rankings. The remainder of the 30-player field will start with scores of 4-under to even par, depending on their standing.
The current Tour Championship format debuted in 2019 to ensure that the winner of the season’s final tournament also won the FedEx Cup. But that also means that the player with the best score over the four rounds this weekend may not win the tournament, due to the handicaps each golfer begins with.
|Tour Championship Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Jon Rahm (-6)||+380|
|Patrick Cantlay (-10)||+380|
|Bryson DeChambeau (-7)||+500|
|Tony Finau (-8)||+650|
|Justin Thomas (-4)||+1800|
|Dustin Johnson (-3)||+2200|
|Rory McIlroy (-2)||+2200|
|Cameron Smith (-5)||+2200|
Players give the new format mixed reviews. In general, they praise the fact that it produces a clear winner for the FedEx Cup, but don’t like the idea that the starting scores impact who wins the tournament itself.
“I think it’s obvious why they went to the format, because the previous format was confusing,” Cantlay told reporters. “I think this format is less confusing. But I don’t think it’s a good format. I dislike the fact that we no longer have a tour champion. So I dislike the fact that no one knows, when they look at the leaderboard, who shot the lowest round this week.”
Long odds on overcoming large handicaps
Rahm criticized the format when he looked likely to enter in the top position, wondering why a year of success translated to just a two-shot advantage. Now four shots back, he still questions whether this is the best way to wrap up the season.
“I’m not the biggest supporter of the full format itself,” Rahm told the media. “What I do like is the fact that you understand what’s going on and what’s going to happen, and who is in the lead and what you have to do to win, but I don’t agree with every part of the format this week.”
The Tour Championship format does produce an interesting betting situation for gamblers. FanDuel Sportsbook rates Cantlay and Rahm as +380 co-favorites when taking the starting handicaps into account. DeChambeau (+500) and Finau (+650) also rate as likely winners, while the rest of the field lags far behind. Justin Thomas comes in as the +1800 fifth choice, starting from six strokes behind Cantlay.
Rory McIlroy (+2200) will start from eight shots back at 2-under. But while he has a lot of ground to make up, McIlroy says he likes the current format – at least in relative terms.
“There’s been a few iterations of it, and I think this is definitely the best format so far,” McIlroy told reporters. “It’s the playoffs, and I think everybody that’s in the top 30 deserves to be here, and then, because of that, everyone in the top 30 deserves to feel like they have a chance to win it all.”