The 2021 TOUR Championship Power Rankings

Jordan Spieth The Tour Championship
Jordan Spieth watches his tee shot on the 1st hole during the second round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Sept 23, 2016 in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Sam Greenwood via Getty Images)

Just one week remains in the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, with the final 30 battling it out at the familiar, but difficult, East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship.

No event on Tour has more money on the line, with this week’s winner being crowned season champion and landing a $15 million payday.

This will be the third time the Tour Championship is being contested under the starting strokes format, which has the 30 players beginning the week anywhere from 10-under to even, depending on where they currently are in the standings. BMW Champion Patrick Cantlay gets to be in pole position at 10-under, starting two strokes ahead of The Northern Trust winner Tony Finau.

The starting strokes format makes the rankings a little more difficult this week, as several players are listed well below their caliber, due to having to start the week in a bigger hole. In two years under the format, the champions have come from the fifth and first positions, respectively.

Here is who we like best in this compelling season finale:

15. Sam Burns

Sam Burns Wins 2021 Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort
Sam Burns prepares to play from the third tee during the final round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort on May 2, 2021 in Palm Harbor, Fla. (Photo by Julio Aguilar via Getty Images)

This will be the East Lake debut for the 25-year-old Louisiana native, who no doubt will be playing with a heavy heart after his home state was devastated by Hurricane Ida.

Burns has been tremendous since May, with a win at the Valspar Championship, two runner-ups, and a T8 at last week’s BMW Championship, allowing him to open the Tour Championship in the same position as former FedExCup champions Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.

Burns may need to continue his hot play to make a case for one of Steve Stricker’s Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks. He currently ranks 16th, in spite of posting just one top 10 in the 2020 season. Burns opened the BMW Championship with an 8-under 64 that had him tied for the lead after 18 holes.

Odds: 33-1
FedExCup: 10th
World Rank: 25th
Starting Score: -4

14. Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa
Collin Morikawa tees off on the second hole as Patrick Cantlay looks on during the final round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 6, 2021 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Chris Condon PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

The 24-year-old winner of last month’s Open Championship came into the FedExCup playoffs in pole position, but a back injury suffered at The Olympics slowed him greatly at The Northern Trust, where he missed the cut.

He claimed to be feeling better going into the BMW last week, and his results were better, at least on the weekend anyway, as he rebounded from a 72-75 start to shoot 70-69 to at least get out of the cellar.

It is difficult to be exceptionally confident in him until we one-hundred percent see that he is healed, but this is a man who unequivocally has shown that he is not afraid of the big stage.

He finished sixth here a year ago in his East Lake debut.

Odds: 33-1
FedExCup: 11th
World Rank: 3rd
Starting Score: -3

13. Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler laughs with Billy Horschel
Scottie Scheffler laughs with Billy Horschel after Horschel’s chip in on the 5th hole during the final round of the WGC-Dell Match Play at Austin CC on Mar 28, 2021 in Austin, TX. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Something kind of seems off about the FedExCup scoring. Scheffler’s 28 starts on the season are second most of anyone in the field (Sungjae Im is a workaholic).

Among those starts, he posted top 10s in three majors, with a T18 in the other, and he had finishes of solo-second, solo-fifth, and solo-14th in WGC events, and he was solo-third at The Memorial… yet, he’s only in 25th position and gets just a single stroke to start his East Lake campaign.

The second-year player made his Tour Championship debut a year ago, starting in 20th position and working his way up to solo-fifth.

He’s too far back to expect a victory, but he has been tremendous on the bigger stages, and he’s the most due player on Tour for a victory. He is coming to East Lake off three strong rounds after sputtering to an opening 73 at the BMW Championship.

Odds: 80-1
FedExCup: 21st
World Rank: 25th
Starting Score: -1

12. Harris English

Harris English 2021 U.S. Open
Harris English waves on the 2nd green during the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines South Course on June 20, 2021 in San Diego, CA. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey via Getty Images)

The 32-year-old Georgia native has not quite re-discovered his form since his Sunday collapse at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational earlier this month, although he did close with a 7-under 65 at the BMW Championship last week.

Eight top 10s on the year, including two victories has him 7th in the standings and a realistic chance to finish the season on a strong note. English is also one of the more interesting names that U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker will be considering for one of his six captain’s picks.

At No. 10 in the Ryder Cup Standings, English is probably the highest-ranked player that Stricker could conceivably pass on, given his lack of experience in team events. It is very important for him to play well this week.

Odds: 33-1
FedExCup: 7th
World Rank: 11th
Starting Score: -4

11. Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Cameron Smith reacts after making birdie on the sixth green during the second round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind on Aug 6, 2021 in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo by Sam Greenwood via Getty Images)

The 28-year-old Aussie currently sits at fifth in the FedExCup standings, the same position Rory McIlroy won from two years ago at East Lake.

Smith started the playoffs hot, shooting a third-round 60 before a disastrously poor drive on the first extra hole meant a second place finish to Tony Finau. He was pretty pedestrian at the BMW, though, but did card four consecutive Sunday birdies before finishing T34.

He has a win and two runner-ups on the season, giving optimism that he can do better than the 24th place finish he had a year ago. He is currently second on Tour in birdie average.

Odds: 25-1
FedExCup: 5th
World Rank: 23rd
Starting Score: -5

10. Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas Wins The PLAYERS Championship
Justin Thomas reacts to his shot from the 9th tee during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Mar 14, 2021, in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

The 2017 FedExCup Champion has never placed worse than seventh in this event, finishing runner-up in 2017 and 2020. It should be noted though, that he got to start in enviable positions in starting strokes, getting to open at 7-under last year after opening at 10-under the year before.

Starting 4-under feels disappointing for Thomas, but he seems on the periphery of busting out of his current slump, chasing a T4 at The Northern Trust was a T22 in Maryland last week where he closed with a 6-under 66.

His six top-10s on the season are the fewest he has had since becoming a Tour member, although in spite of his struggles, he does rank third on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

Odds: 20-1
FedExCup: 6th
World Rank: 6th
Starting Score: -4

9. Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson plays a shot during a practice round prior to the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course on May 17, 2021 in Kiawah Island, SC. (Photo by Stacy Revere via Getty Images)

The defending champion started in pole position a year ago, and while a few others played better, it never felt like his lead was especially threatened, as he finished three strokes ahead of Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas.

DJ looks nowhere near as unstoppable as he did going into this event a year ago, but he is showing signs of rounding back into form. A 65-66 weekend at Caves Valley led to a T6, his best result on Tour since winning The Masters last November. 27 birdies at the BMW tied for second in the field.

Odds: 20-1
FedExCup: 15th
World Rank: 2nd
Starting Score: -3

8. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy waves his ball to fans on the 5th green during the first round of the 121st U.S. Open on the South Course at Torrey Pines GC on June 17, 2021 in La Jolla, San Diego, CA. (Photo by Keyur Khamar PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Two years ago, McIlroy won his second FedExCup Championship when he took the East Lake title starting in the fifth spot at 5-under, winning by four over Xander Schauffele. He also won this event in 2016 and finished runner-up in 2014.

Rory’s season has stalled out badly since winning the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but given his past success at the Tour Championship, the field likely collectively groaned when they saw him jump out to the 18-hole lead at last week’s BMW Championship, eventually finishing solo-fourth.

Only Rory and Tiger have won the FedExCup twice. Don’t be too dismissive of his chances to overcome an eight-stroke deficit; he clearly knows how to win on this stage.

Odds: 20-1
FedExCup: 16th
World Rank: 13th
Starting Score: -2

7. Abraham Ancer

Abraham Ancer Wins WGC-Fedex-St Jude Invitational
Abraham Ancer lines up a putt on the 6th green during the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind on Aug 8, 2021 in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo by Sam Greenwood via Getty Images)

A T64 at The Northern Trust was a considerable drop-off from the caliber of golf he has played in 2021, but it is somewhat excusable since he just notched his long-awaited first Tour victory in his previous start at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

Ancer was back to his consistently strong and precise ways last week at Caves Valley, sitting just four off the lead heading into the final round. He would have been in an even better position if not for a disappointing bogey-bogey finish at the BMW, leading to a 1-under 71 that was dwarfed by the other contenders.

He opened this event a year ago with a 64, tying Rory McIlroy for the 18-hole lead.

Odds: 33-1
FedExCup: 8th
World Rank: 12th
Starting Score: -4

6. Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele TOUR Championship
Xander Schauffele plays his shot from the 4th tee during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Sep 7, 2020 in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Schauffele has been an absolute beast at East Lake, winning his debut in 2017, finishing 7th in 2018, and has been the runner-up both years of the starting strokes format. Last year, he had the lowest aggregate score by three strokes, and finished T2 despite starting -3. The year prior, he finished solo runner-up starting 4-under.

Xander has been a little out of sorts in three starts since arriving back from Japan with a gold medal (T46, T16, T49), but it would be surprising to see that trend continue given his success in Atlanta.

For the season, the world No. 5 has three runner-ups among 15 top 25s, and he ranks fifth in strokes gained: total. He’d be much higher in the rankings if he didn’t have to start eight strokes back of Cantlay.

Odds: 33-1
FedExCup: 17th
World Rank: 5th
Starting Score: -2

5. Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth BMW Championship
Jordan Spieth looks on over the 18th green during the second round of the BMW Championship at Caves Valley GC on Aug 27, 2021 in Owings Mills, MD. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu via Getty Images)

At No. 2 in the standings coming into the playoffs, a nightmare weekend at The Northern Trust had fans concerned that he could be going back into a slump. Things were better at the BMW, however, as while he did not contend, he improved with each round and shot a 66 on Sunday to finish T34.

The 27-year-old should be especially motivated to play well in his first trip to East Lake since 2017, as he is also prime for one of the Ryder Cup Captain’s Picks. He won this event in 2015 and was runner-up in 2013. His nine top 10s on the season are second to Jon Rahm.

Odds: 20-1
FedExCup: 9th
World Rank: 14th
Starting Score: -4

4. Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay Wins 2021 BMW Championship
Patrick Cantlay watches his tee shot on the 15th tee box during the final round of the BMW Championship at Caves Valley GC on Aug 29, 2021 in Owings Mills, MD. (Photo by Ben Jared / PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

If Cantlay putts the way he did at last week at Caves Valley, where he set the ShotLink era record for strokes gained: putting in a single tournament, it will look unfair that he is getting ten strokes rather than giving them.

Cantlay is only three-time Tour winner this year, and strangely, it actually feels like he was somewhat disappointing, as he was irrelevant in the majors, he has just two top 10s in his last 15 starts (both wins), and one of those wins came the week that Jon Rahm had to withdraw with a six-stroke 54-hole lead.

Before crowning the current FedExCup leader, it should be noted that he has been awful in this event, finishing in the top 10 in all three of his appearances, including a T21 two years ago, despite getting to start the week at 8-under (second place).

He is locked into the Ryder Cup now, so the next question is, if he wins the FedExCup, is he Tour Player of the Year? Even at four wins, arguments could probably still be made for Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm.

Odds: 4-1
FedExCup: 1st
World Rank: 4th
Starting Score: -10

3. Tony Finau

Tony Finau
Tony Finau plays his shot from the 17th tee during the final round of The Genesis Invitational at Riviera CC on Feb 21, 2021 in Pacific Palisades, CA. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The 31-year-old’s playoff victory two weeks ago at The Northern Trust was the epitome of “long time coming”. A mild hangover at the BMW Championship was not completely unexpected, but whatever there was looked gone again on Sunday, as Finau shot a field-low 9-under 63 to finish T15.

Finau now arrives at East Lake in the enviable position of second place, just two strokes off the lead. This will be his fifth consecutive trip to the Tour Championship, although he has never played this course especially great, with a T7 in 2017 being his best result. He would be an exceptionally popular winner if he is able to keep his momentum going.

Odds: 7-1
FedExCup: 2nd
World Rank: 9th
Starting Score: -8

2. Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau stands behind his ball along the 8th hole during the third round of the BMW Championship at Caves Valley GC on Aug 28, 2021 in Owings Mills, MD. (Photo by Ben Jared / PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Bryson probably had the worst putting week ever for someone who finished second in strokes gained: putting at the BMW Championship. He badly missed a putt for 59 in the second round, and then missed at least four putts late, or in the playoff, that could have closed the door on Patrick Cantlay.

Regardless, DeChambeau runs kind of hot-and-cold, so it should be considered encouraging that he was one of two players last week to separate himself from the pack. Cantlay needed the greatest putting week ever just to barely oust him on the sixth hole of a playoff.

DeChambeau had kinda stalled out since March, but now he has two top 10s in his last three starts, and he gets to start East Lake at 7-under.

Odds: 5-1
FedExCup: 3rd
World Rank: 7th
Starting Score: -7

1. Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm The Northern Trust
Jon Rahm walks to the 17th green during the first round of THE NORTHERN TRUST at Liberty National GC on Aug 19, 2021 in Jersey City, NJ. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox / PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Rahm is the betting favorite for this week at the moment, which makes sense considering he has a ridiculous 14 top 10s in 21 starts this season and gets to start the Tour Championship at 6-under. There was also that time he won the last U.S. Open.

In his last three starts, the world No. 1 has finished WIN-T3-3-T9, and he leads the Tour in strokes gained: total, strokes gained: tee-to-green, birdie average, and scoring average.

We haven’t seen numbers like that since Dustin Johnson last year, who won this event and the FedExCup.

Rahm may have won this a year ago if it wasn’t for one uncharacteristically bad second-round 74. He was 66 or better in the other three.

Odds: 4-1
FedExCup: 4th
World Rank: 1st
Starting Score: -6

Next Five: Louis Oosthuizen (-3), Sungjae Im (-3), Viktor Hovland (-3), Brooks Koepka (-2), Billy Horschel (E)


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