2021 TOUR Championship Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

TOUR Championship at East Lake GC
Jordan Spieth tees off on the 16th hole during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Sep. 24, 2017 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Ryan Young/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

It’s TOUR Championship week – the final stop of the 2020-21 Super Season, and the field at East Lake is absolutely stout.

The 30-player set will will once again be contested using a handicap format, and include many of the game’s marquee names, including each of the top-10 ranked players in the world.

Hosted at the acclaimed East Lake Golf Club, the star-studded gathering in Atlanta, Georgia will feature defending champion Dustin Johnson who will be joined by a several other former winners, including top-ranked stalwarts such as Rory McIlroy (2019), Xander Schauffele (2017) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

Other top-10 ranked stars teeing it up this week in Atlanta include No. 1 Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa (3), Patrick Cantlay (4), Justin Thomas (6), Bryson DeChambeau (7), Louis Oosthuizen (8), Tony Finau (9) and Brooks Koepka (10).

Below, you’ll find more details to help you get primed for the 2021 edition of The TOUR Championship.


The Skinny

Tournament: TOUR Championship
Dates: Sep 2-5, 2021
Where: Atlanta, GA
Course: East Lake Golf Club
Distance: Par 70, 7346 yards
Architect: Tom Bendelow (1908), Donald Ross (1913)
Redesign: Rees Jones (1994)
Format: 72-holes, starting-strokes
Purse: $60 million
Winning Share: $15 million
2020 Champion: Dustin Johnson


How to Follow The TOUR Championship

East Lake Golf Club
A general view of East Lake Golf Club during the 2015 Tour Championship in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 1-6 p.m. (GOLF); Sat: 1-2:30 p.m. (GOLF), 2:30-7 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 12-1:30 p.m. (GOLF), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (Groups); Sat: 12-2:30 p.m. (Groups), 2:30-6 p.m. (Holes); Sun: 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Groups), 1:30-6 p.m. (Holes)
Watch on Prime Video

PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 12-6 p.m.; Sat: 2-7 p.m.; Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)

LINKS: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


TOUR Championship History

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods celebrates on the 18th green after winning the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Sep. 23, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Tour Championship has been the FedExCup playoff finale since the first playoff in 2007, but the event has roots going back 20 years earlier. Always an elite event, prior to 2007, its field consisted exclusively of the top 30 money leaders of the past PGA Tour season and generally took place in the late fall.

The inaugural 1987 event was claimed by Tom Watson – two strokes clear of Chip Beck, the second member of the 59 Club.

Other champions in the pre FedExCup era included legends such as Curtis Strange, Tom Kite, Paul Azinger, David Duval, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

In 2007, the Tour Championship moved from November to mid-September, where it ended the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs. As in past years, 30 players qualified for the event, but the basis for qualification was no longer prize money. Instead, FedEx Cup points accumulated during the regular PGA Tour season and then during the three preceding playoff events determined the participants.

From 2019 onward, the FedExCup was reduced to three events, and the Tour Championship is now held in late August rather than mid-September. The tournament also adopted a new format called starting strokes, in order to ensure that the winner would also be the FedExCup champion.

Woods holds the tournament record with three wins – two coming in the FedExCup format, the most recent of which was in 2018. Mickelson and McIlroy are the only other players to have won more than once, with Tiger as the runner-up in both of Phil’s victories.

East Lake Golf Club has been the Tour Championship’s permanent venue since 2004, although the FedExCup is only a small part of the club’s story. Founded 100 years earlier in 1904, the Atlanta course is a Donald Ross design, famous for being the home course of the legendary Bobby Jones.

It is believed to be the site where Jones played his first and last rounds. The course also once hosted the Ryder Cup, the 1963 edition, with Arnold Palmer as the U.S. captain.

History: Recent Winners

Year-Winner-To Par (Margin)
2020 Dustin Johnson -21 (3)**
2019 Rory McIlroy -18 (4)*
2018 Tiger Woods -11 (2)
2017 Xander Schauffele -12 (1)
2016 Rory McIlroy -12 (Playoff)
2015 Jordan Spieth -9 (4)
** Johnson started -10 (Gross -11)
* McIlroy started -5 (Gross -13)

History: Wins

3 – Tiger Woods (1999, 2007, 2018)
2 – Phil Mickelson (2000, 2009)
2 – Rory McIlroy (2016, 2019)


Hole of the Week

The 15th hole at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia – the host venue of the PGA Tour’s season finale. Credit: East Lake Golf Club

No. 15, East Lake Golf Club
Par 3, 211 yards

Considered one of the oldest “isthmus” par 3s (not an island, but close to being one) in the country, the 15th hole at East Lake should once again provide all kinds of action this week. A super-flat green is surrounded by the golf course’s iconic lake, which provides a natural setting for gusts of wind to create havoc at most any time.

“The 15th hole will really be a gut-checking hole, as Justin Rose refers to some of the holes at East Lake,” Rees Jones said in 2016. “They will have to fight through 14 and 15 and then push the pedal down on the last three holes.”

The club’s signature hole has historically played well over par, and has ruined many good rounds down the stretch.


The Field

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas during the third round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Sep. 24, 2017 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Pre-Game Leaderboard

1. Patrick Cantlay -10
2. Tony Finau -8
3. Bryson DeChambeau -7
4. Jon Rahm -6
5. Cameron Smith -5
6. Justin Thomas -4
7. Harris English -4
8. Abraham Ancer -4
9. Jordan Spieth -4
10. Sam Burns -4
11. Collin Morikawa -3
12. Sungjae Im -3
13. Viktor Hovland -3
14. Louis Oosthuizen -3
15. Dustin Johnson -3
16. Rory McIlroy -2
17. Xander Schauffele -2
18. Jason Kokrak -2
19. Kevin Na -2
20. Brooks Koepka -2
21. Corey Conners -1
22. Hideki Matsuyama -1
23. Stewart Cink -1
24. Joaquin Niemann -1
25. Scottie Scheffler -1
26. Daniel Berger E
27. Erik van Rooyen E
28. Sergio Garcia E
29. Billy Horschel E
30. Patrick Reed E

Full Field & Odds

Credits: OWGR, PGA Tour Media, Getty Images, Fast Scripts


1 COMMENT

  1. As a fan who watches the final two rounds of nearly every tournament, I find the current TC configuration disappointing. I’m not opposed to the staggered scoring (no liked the old tournament within a tournament), but the first two FedEx events count for far too much. How about guaranteeing that anyone who won a major gets in automatically (that brings in Phil). And, based on one win, how does Finau start out at #2? Plus the 10 stroke differential is far too much. Only the top 10 going in have any chance to win. And, the wrap around season, finishing in August, is far too compressed. The golfers must be exhausted. The old calendar year format (pre-FedEx), with the TC in November, was better.

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