Tour Championship preview: 2016-17 PGA Tour season promises drama before it's over

Sporting News
Spieth finished third here last year, and has owned Hawaii since joining the Tour.

Sony Open: Jordan Spieth wants Hawaii swing to be an annual regular step

Spieth finished third here last year, and has owned Hawaii since joining the Tour.

A rousing 2016-17 PGA Tour season is nearing its end, but not before this week's Tour Championship promises plenty of drama with most of the game's biggest stars in the field and with a chance of hoisting the coveted trophy.

Whether players were shooting 59, breaking long-standing major championship scoring records or hitting shots fans couldn't dream of, golf took a step in the right direction this season.

Golf's plethora of young talent shined brightest, as spring-break buddies Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler all have a chance to win the FedEx Cup this week.

The Course

East Lake Golf Club is a 7,385-yard, par-70 layout that became the annual Tour Championship host in 2004. This event controversially used to end on a par 3, but the two nines have since been switched, leaving a par-5 finish.

Usually a tough track, birdies can be hard to find, but last year's champion, Rory McIlroy, shot a 6-under 64 in the final round and then defeated Ryan Moore in a playoff. McIlroy did not make the 30-man field this week to defend his FedEx Cup crown.

The Top 5

Spieth, Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm are the only players in the field this week who control their destinies.

With the points reshuffled after last week, the top five players in the standings win the FedEx Cup trophy — and the $10 million bonus that comes with it — with a victory this week at East Lake.

Spieth, who leads the standings, won the FedEx Cup in 2015 with a victory at the Tour Championship. He also finished T-2 in 2013.

Thomas and Johnson are second and third in the standings. Thomas already has five wins this season and a sixth this week would cement his status as Player of the Year. He finished in a tie for sixth last year in his first start at East Lake.

Johnson has been inconsistent since winning three tournaments before the Masters, but he has four straight top-10 finishes at this event. He, too, could win Player of the Year with a victory this week.

Leishman, fresh off a wire-to-wire win last week at the BMW Championship, sits fourth in the standings, while Rahm holds the fifth spot after three straight top-5 finishes to start the playoffs.

Potential sleepers

It is possible for someone outside the top 5 in the standings to win the FedEx Cup this week. Bill Haas was 25th entering the Tour Championship in 2011 when he went on to hoist the trophy, but it is very unlikely someone from that far back will claim the crown this week.

But guys like Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey, who make up spots six through 10, respectively, all pose threats this week with a win.

Outside the top 10, Matt Kuchar (12) and Jason Day (15) likely have everyone's attention.

What to Read Next