In addition to waivers for numerous invitees, all 30 TOUR Championship qualifiers will receive seats to the 2023 editions of the Masters, US Open and The Open Championship. While those are safe, the prize money collected at the end of the tournament varies.
In the link to Start Strokes at the top is the bonus money reserved for the golfers who have progressed to the TOUR Championship. The winner will earn $18 million, tenth place pays $1 million, while the last promises $500K. (Revenues are unofficial.)
For the fourth consecutive edition of the TOUR Championship, Starting Strokes determines the opening standings. It is designed to reward performance through the BMW Championship and you can see its impact as the result of a lap that has already been completed. Scoring in relation to the level of contributions of the starting tricks is all that matters.
Last year, Patrick Cantlay opened as top leaguer at 10-under. He scored 11-under 269 in four rounds to a total of 21-under and won with one against Jon Rahm. The Spaniard opened fourth seed at 6-under and scored 14-under 266.
In 2019 and 2020, exactly six golfers rose from outside the opening top 10 on arrival to score a top 10 in the tournament. Five did it last year, including Billy Horschel, who opened right and T9 finished 10 under. His jump from 29th is the best since the introduction of Starting Strokes.
A dozen of the qualifiers are experiencing Start Strokes for the first time, 10 of whom are tournament debutants in total. The learning curve at East Lake is flattened a bit by the opening position, but course management influenced by history on it can serve as speed slots on the season’s smallest leaderboard.
East Lake is the same par 70 share that recent participants have played. It tips at 7,346 feet and greens are essentially average in size at just over 6,000 square feet. Speeds are set at a fast 13 feet, so, and as usual, it requires the full bag for the final exam. That said, the classic summer weather in Hotlanta could soften the turf every day, so the score could be lower than normal. (The field checked in at 68,805 last year.) Rain and the potential for storms demand attention everywhere, but the overall effect should be minimal given the size of the field. Wind will not play a role and daytime temperatures will comfortably reach the 80s.
While the FedExCup Playoffs are now old enough to ride, East Lake is always capitalizing on that. The par 5s are among the highest scoring on the schedule. In his four trips through numbers 6 and 18, Cantlay birdied each time.
Speaking of the defending champion, he is in an unprecedented place times two. After being the first to successfully defend a FedExCup Playoffs event at last week’s BMW Championship, not only could he become the first ever to win consecutive events in the Playoffs for the second time (2021), but he would also be the first to successfully defend the FedExCup itself. Of course, if he did, he would also become the second to successfully defend a FedExCup Playoffs event after last week’s performance.
Whoever claims the title will get an official PGA TOUR win. This includes an invitation to the Sentry Tournament of Champions 2023 for which a third of the field is not yet eligible. Rookies Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala will not alone and probably decide who voted Newbie of the year, but they are the only two non-winners on TOUR in the field. The champion will also extend his membership status for up to five seasons through 2027.
Incidentally, it was announced in January that Andrew Green and his design agency East Lake will be renovating after next year’s TOUR Championship. If you love his work, you don’t have to look far to find more of it. He was also responsible for the revamped South Course at Wilmington Country Club ahead of last week’s BMW Championship.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
Rob Bolton of PGATOUR.com summarizes and previews each tournament from different perspectives. Look for his next contributions as planned.
MONDAY: power classification
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Draws & Fades
WEDNESDAY: Choose them Example
SUNDAY: Qualifiers, Recast, Rookie Ranking
* – Rob is on the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, also to be published on Tuesday.