2023 Tour Championship Picks & Odds: Bets for Xander Schauffele, Sungjae Im & Russell Henley
Via Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Xander Schauffele of the United States follows his shot from the seventh tee during the final round of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club on August 20, 2023 in Olympia Fields, Illinois.
We head into the 2023 Tour Championship with some momentum, as Viktor Hovland completed an epic comeback with a back-nine 28 at Olympia Fields Championship to steal the BMW Championship away from Scottie Scheffler and Matt Fitzpatrick. After treating us well last week, I wouldn't mind seeing Hovland win the $18 million at this week's Tour Championship.
If you are new to golf, the format for the Tour Championship is different than any other that we see on the PGA Tour. Based on the FedExCup Standings, golfers will start with a score anywhere from even par to 10-under par. These are called starting strokes, and while most golf fans aren't a fan, they are at least a way to reward those that have earned the most FedExCup points throughout the season.
|Tour Championship Seed||Golfer(s)||Tour Championship Starting Strokes|
|6-10||Homa, Cantlay, Harman, Clark & Fitzpatrick||-4|
|11-15||Fleetwood, Henley, Bradley, Fowler & Schauffele||-3|
|16-20||Tom Kim, Im, Finau, Conners & Si Woo Kim||-2|
|21-25||Moore, Taylor, Schenk, Morikawa & Day||-1|
|26-30||Burns, Grillo, Hatton, Spieth & Straka||Even|
Personally, I would love to see them use the starting strokes in the first playoff event and then use cumulative scoring from that point on. Every golfer would know where he stood at all times, and it would create a fun three-event finale to crown a winner. Regardless, we have to deal with the usual starting strokes this week.
We have plenty of course history to work with when it comes to East Lake Golf Club. Historically, it has negated raw power and has rewarded those who can find the fairways and hit quality approach shots.
East Lake is a par-70 that measures 7,346 yards and only features two par fives along with seven par-4s over 450 yards. If golfers hit quality shots, they can make birdies on this course. If they aren't driving it well or if they aren't hitting greens, they can rack up bogeys very quickly. With no cut, we are going to see a huge gap between the first and last-place scores.
If you look at the outright betting board, you are going to see some ugly odds. Scottie Scheffler is +140 to win, and Rory McIlroy is +350 to win. My favorite market for this event is the lowest 72-hole score winner. It's a little harder to sweat since all of the leaderboards include the starting strokes, but the odds are much better, and we have more options at our disposal.
Let's get to the Tour Championship picks!
2023 Tour Championship Picks: Lowest 72-Hole Score
Xander Schauffele +1200 (BetMGM)
On a per-round basis, no one is better at East Lake than Xander Schauffele. If you take out the starting strokes, he has finished seventh or better at this event in each of the last five years.
This course is a solid overall test of golf, and that's great for Schauffele because he doesn't have a weakness in his game. He hasn't been the best when he's been in contention over the last couple of years, but that's not a concern with this bet because he starts seven shots behind the leader. He can shoot the lowest 72-hole score and not find himself in contention on Sunday.
Sungjae Im +2600 (FanDuel)
After months of waiting, Sungjae Im has finally figured out his golf swing as he has gained over 11 strokes ball-striking in his last two events combined.
For comparison, he had only gained over one stroke ball-striking in two of his previous 10 events.
He has long been his best on Bermudagrass greens and now returns to a course where he's had plenty of success at over the years. Im has finished in the top half of the field in three of his four appearances and had the second best 72-hole score here last year. The South Korean's game is trending, and we are getting some very generous odds on him this week.
Russell Henley +3000 (FanDuel)
If I could only make one bet this week, it would be on Russell Henley because he checks every single box this week.
Let's start with his form. He has finished in the top 20 in 10 of his last 13 starts and has posted three straight top-10 finishes.
Next, let's look at course fit. He's one of the most accurate drivers of the ball, he's elite on approach, and he's one of the best around the green. Those are the three attributes I look for at East Lake.
And finally, he should be very familiar with the course and the area. He grew up in Georgia, went to the University of Georgia and still lives in Georgia.
Let's hit another winner and end the season on a high note!