Pro Golf Weekly

Positioning For East Lake at the BMW Championship

In the first leg of the FedExCup playoffs, 20% (25 of 125) of the field was eliminated. In the second series, that number rose to 30% (30 of 100). Now, with just one playoff event until the Tour Championship at East Lake, this week’s BMW Championship will eliminate 57% of the players (40 of 70) in the field.

Jordan Spieth BMW Championship
Jordan Spieth tees off on the 16th hole during the second round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick GC in Carmel, IN. Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tour Championship offers another huge payday, along with serious prestige and a $10 million bonus to the points winner. Add in all the exemptions and perks that come with being one of the final 30 invited to Atlanta, and it’s easy to understand why players are constantly talking about “making it to East Lake.”

Coming into the BMW, here is the current top-30 bubble for the Tour Championship:

No. 25 – Tiger Woods (1,342)
No. 26 – Rickie Fowler (1,302)
No. 27 – Jordan Spieth (1,299)
No. 28 – Hideki Matsuyama (1,271)
No. 29 – Emiliano Grillo (1,252)
No. 30 – Gary Woodland (1,205)
——————–
No. 31 – Chez Reavie (1,184)
No. 32 – Brandt Snedeker (1,174)
No. 33 – C.T. Pan (1,170)
No. 34 – Pat Perez (1,167)
No. 35 – Andrew Landry (1,145)

Other notables currently on the wrong side of the East Lake top-070 cut include Kevin Kisner (39), Xander Schauffele (41), Ian Poulter (45), Adam Scott (48), Keegan Bradley (52), Zach Johnson (59), and Henrik Stenson (60).

In each of the past three seasons, four players have moved from outside the top 30 to inside, so those on north side of the bubble are likely feeling nervous. With quadruple points, there is the potential for a lot of movement, and even No. 70 Ted Potter Jr has a legitimate shot of making the Tour Championship.

Last year, the four players who moved into the top 30 were ranked 32nd, 34th, 39th, and 41st respectively. The highest ranked player coming into the week who moved out of the top 30 was Louis Oosthuizen, who came into the week at No. 24, and slipped below the cut, despite playing the weekend 9-under par. Oosthuizen has an even tougher task this year, as his No. 69 ranking means he needs a very high finish this week.

Tony Finau
Tony Finau walks to the 8th green during the final round of The Northern Trust at Ridgewood CC on Aug. 26, 2018 in Paramus, NJ. Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

It is not the top 30 bubble that is important, however. The players occupying the top-5 positions at East Lake get an enormous advantage: control of their destiny. Points are re-set after this week in a way where any player in that top 5 automatically wins the FedExCup with a victory at the Tour Championship. With one week to go, here is that current top 5:

No. 1. Bryson DeChambeau
No. 2. Dustin Johnson
No. 3. Justin Rose
No. 4. Tony Finau
No. 5. Justin Thomas

Nipping on Thomas’ heels include Brooks Koepka (6), Bubba Watson (7), Cameron Smith (8), Phil Mickelson (9), and Jason Day (10). Of those ten names mentioned, only 2017 Champion Thomas has won the FedExCup before, meaning the top of the standings include a lot of players who will be highly motivated to add another significant accomplishment to their resumes.

Joel Cook

Joel Cook is Pro Golf Weekly's Lead Writer. He is a member of the Golf Writer's Association of America.

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Up Next On Tour

DATES 9/20-24, 2018
TOUR PGA
EVENT TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
COURSE East Lake Golf Club
LOCALE Atlanta, GA
TV GOLF/NBC
PURSE $9,000,000
WIN SHARE $1,620,000
DEFENDING Xander Schauffele
-----------------
TOUR EUROPEAN
EVENT Portugal Masters
COURSE Dom Pedro Victoria GC
LOCALE Vilamoura, Portugal
TV GOLF
PURSE $3,000,000
WIN SHARE $333,330
DEFENDING Lucas Bjerregaard
-----------------
TOUR CHAMPIONS
EVENT Sanford International
COURSE Minnehaha CC
LOCALE Sioux Falls, SD
TV GOLF
PURSE $1,800,000
WIN SHARE $270,000
DEFENDING New Event

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