2021 TOUR Championship Odds, Picks, Preview: Which Stats Matter Most at East Lake Golf Club?
Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Harris English.
The 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs and PGA TOUR season will make its final stop this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. The top 30 players left standing in the FedEx Cup standings will compete for The TOUR Championship trophy and the $15 million that will accompany it.
East Lake Golf Club is a par 70 measuring 7,319 yards with Bermuda grass greens. A Donald Ross design, the difficulty this week for players will be managing the fast and undulating putting surface. Golfers with varying skill sets can compete at East Lake.
Top Five on the Leaderboard
Past Winners at East Lake Golf Club
- 2020: Dustin Johnson*
- 2019: Rory McIlroy*
- 2018: Tiger Woods
- 2017: Xander Schauffele
- 2016: Rory McIlroy
- 2015: Jordan Spieth
*Strokes-based bonus in effect.
2019 was the first year in which the PGA TOUR introduced a “strokes-based bonus” that gives players with the most FedEx Cup points a stroke advantage relative to the field at the beginning of the tournament.
With the recent addition of the handicapped scoring system this week, the challenge for bettors will be identifying who can get into contention considering where they are beginning the week on the leaderboard. It will take an exceptional week from any golfer to catch the big names at the top of the leaderboard starting with a stroke advantage.
Let’s take a look at several key metrics for East Lake to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
Identifying the most predictive measures for player performance this week will be crucial in determining who will hoist the FedEx Cup when all is said and done.
Strokes Gained: Approach
SG: Approach is the most predictive statistic at East Lake Golf Club. Success in this event has come in the form of many different types of golfers, but one of the consistent factors is the winners are putting their approach shots close.
SG: Approach — Past 24 Rounds
- Daniel Berger (+31.4) (+12500)
- Collin Morikawa (+25.4) (+4000)
- Louis Oosthuizen (+22.0) (+4500)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+18.6) (+10000)
- Jon Rahm (+17.0) (+400)
In the past we have seen some of the most accurate golfers play their best golf at East Lake. Being a bomber isn’t a requirement this week, it is far more important to hit fairways. The golfers who put the ball in play most often should have a strong chance to compete in Atlanta.
Fairways Gained — Past 24 Rounds
- Corey Conners (+35.1) (+12500)
- Collin Morikawa (+28.6) (+4000)
- Daniel Berger (+25.9) (+12500)
- Sungjae Im (+22.1) (+4000)
- Viktor Hovland (+20.0) (+4000)
Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass+Lightning)
The difficulty of East Lake will be the speed of the greens. Donald Ross designs are known for having different levels on a sloping green, which makes finding the correct place to land the ball challenging. To be successful, golfers must excel at putting on both Bermuda grass greens, and with lightning fast speeds.
SG: Putting (Bermuda+ Lightning) — Past 24 Rounds
- Sam Burns (+11.1) (+3500)
- Harris English (+18.6) (+3300)
- Sungjae Im (+10.3) (+4000)
- Stewart Cink (+12.8) (+30000)
- Kevin Na (+9.0) (+10000)
Par 4: 450-500
Five of the par-4s at East Lake are between 450-500 yards. Playing these more difficult holes under par will be a good barometer of who has success in this week’s TOUR Championship.
Par 4: 450-500 — Past 24 Rounds
- Jon Rahm (+20.6) (+400)
- Tony Finau (+17.7) (+700)
- Justin Thomas (+16.7) (+1600)
- Rory McIlroy (+14.7) (+2500)
- Patrick Cantlay (+13.8) (+400)
Strokes Gained: Donald Ross Designs
We have seen the same golfers thrive on Ross designs season after season. The requirement for strategic ball placement combined with the undulating greens seems to catch the eye of specific players. It is important to note the players in this field who play their best golf on Ross designs.
SG: Total Donald Ross Designs — Past 36 Rounds
- Rory McIlroy (+43.0) (+2500)
- Xander Schauffele (+33.8) (+3300)
- Sergio Garcia (+36.3) (+14000)
- Sungjae Im (30.4) (+4000)
- Viktor Hovland (+24.5) (+4000)
TOUR Championship Model Rankings
Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (25%), Fairways Gained (22%), SG: Putting: Bermuda Lightning (18%),Par 4: 450-500: Gained (17%), and SG: Donald Ross (18%).
- Sungjae Im (+4000)
- Collin Morikawa (4000)
- Rory McIlroy (+2500)
- Viktor Hovland (+4000)
- Jon Rahm (+400)
- Daniel Berger (+12500)
- Louis Oosthuizen (+4500)
- Xander Schauffele (+3300)
- Sergio Garcia (+14000)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+10000)
TOUR Championship Best Bets
(With starting strokes) Odds as of Tuesday
Harris English (+3300, Bet365): English fits the mold of golfers who have had success at East Lake to perfection. The course isn’t extremely long so distance isn’t an absolute requirement.
However, finding the fairway and getting in position to hit plenty of greens in regulation will be one of the most important factors at the TOUR Championship.
English ranks sixth in the field in Good Drives: Gained, which factors in when a golfer narrowly misses the fairway and still hits the green in regulation. One of the strengths of English’s game is keeping the ball in play off the tee.
A constant theme we have seen at the TOUR Championship is players who ultimately win the event have had very successful overall seasons, and English has had one of the best seasons of his career.
With two wins (Sentry TOC and Travelers Championship) and four additional top-five finishes this season, there are few on TOUR who can say they had as successful of a season as the former Georgia Bulldog. English comes into the week ranking fourth in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 24 rounds.
One of the biggest challenges of East Lake is managing the very fast Bermudagrass greens, and this is an area where the 32 year old thrives. English ranks second in the field in his past 24 rounds in Strokes Gained: Putting on lightning Bermuda.
It may be instinctive to gravitate towards some of the bigger name golfers this week to claim the TOUR championship trophy, but in the past we have seen golfers similar to English who are in great form (Ex: Billy Horschel 2014) excel at East Lake.
Harris has the ability to control the golf ball from tee to green and catch a hot putter on Bermuda greens. That combination could be the recipe to propel him to a victory at the TOUR Championship.
Sungjae Im (+4500, DraftKings): Im’s recent statistics are far too impressive to ignore this week. After a long stretch of inconsistency this season, the South Korean has finally put together a string of tournaments where he looks like the golfer who won at PGA National in 2020.
He has gotten progressively better in each of his past three starts, most recently with a third place finish last week at the BMW Championship. Even more importantly, he did so by averaging +6.9 strokes from tee to green in those three events which is his best three tournament stretch since March.
In addition to being in excellent form, Sungjae is also a dream fit for East Lake. Im thrives on shorter courses with Bermudagrass greens and East Lake fits the bill. The 23 year old ranks third in the field in his past 24 rounds on Strokes Gained: Putting on lightning greens and is a superb putter overall on Bermuda.
Winning the TOUR Championship would be a tall task, but when Sungjae gets hot he usually stays hot in stretches and this number is too good to pass up.