The end of the 2016-17 PGA Tour Season is here. 47 events in the books. One Tour Championship winner, One FedEx Cup Champion, and one heck of a season. Let’s take a look at the Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The Tour Championship at East Lake
For the first time in seven years, the winner of the Tour Championship did not hoist the FedEx Cup trophy as well. Xander Schauffele took home the Tour Championship with a birdie on 18 to beat Justin Thomas by one shot. Schauffele is a name that no one knew a year ago, and still to this day is not a name one will recognise if they aren’t ingrained in the world of golf. The 23-year-old from San Diego State was a rookie on tour this year. At this time last year he was fighting for a PGA Tour card late in the season on the Web.com Tour. He grabbed a win at the Greenbriar early in the season to put his name on the map and made his way to East Lake.
Standing on number 10 at Conway Farms, he needed a big back nine to make it to Atlanta. Xander proceeded to birdie his last six holes to put himself in 26th going into the last week. Safe to say he took advantage of the opportunity he created for himself. He’s the first rookie to ever win the Tour Championship. Schauffele is also the clear-cut favourite for rookie of the year. Schauffele finished the season third in the FedEx Cup rankings.
The FedEx Cup Winner
While Xander was hoisting the Tour Championship trophy, Justin Thomas was hoisting the FedEx Cup Trophy. Due to Schauffele winning the tournament, Thomas didn’t need to win to take home the FedEx Cup. He made it interesting, forcing Schauffele to birdie 18 in order to beat him. No one is more deserving than Thomas this year, the 24-year-old won five times including a major and a playoff event. He’s now in a group with Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, and Jack Nicklaus as the only players under 25 to win five times in a season including a major. That is pretty special company. He’s the FedEx Cup champion and the front-runner for the player of the year.
The Final Top-5
The top five finishers in the race for the FedEx Cup are as follows: Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, and Jon Rahm.
4 Takeaways from the Tour Championship
Paul Casey’s Final Day Struggles Continue
Paul Casey could smell it again, and couldn’t get it done. The 40-year-old Englishman began the day with the lead and at one point was in a position to win both the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup. Instead, he finished his final round with a three-over 73 and no birdies until the 18th hole. This has become a reoccurring theme for Casey over the last few years. He plays really well for three rounds, then fades on Sunday. He’s been a staple in the playoffs the past several years but has failed to get a win.
Familiar Faces Struggle
It’s great for the game of golf to have new faces competing at bigger events. But what’s even greater is when the best of the best are trading shots going down the stretch fighting to win a golf tournament. I didn’t feel that on Sunday. Sure, Schauffele played phenomenal golf all day, especially down the stretch and, Thomas was electric as usual. But other than that, there was some pretty poor golf played by the later groups.
Kevin Kisner had a lead on multiple occasions on the back nine but ultimately needed a hole out from 289 yards on 18 to force a playoff, and Paul Casey couldn’t get a putt to drop (bless his soul). Its great to see the success of new guys, but many were hoping for a Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson battle coming down the stretch. One doesn’t get a four-hole playoff that includes Rory McIlroy to decide the FedEx Cup champion every year.
Missing Big Weeks
Many favorites failed to have a big week. For starters, Rickie Fowler struggled all week with only one round in the 60s. His six-over mark was good enough for a tie for 26th, and an early afternoon flight home. Marc Leishman was also a disappointment after his wire-to-wire win at the BMW. Another playoff winner who was never really in it was Dustin Johnson, he finished at -2 for the tournament and was never in the mix.
Young Guns of the Class of 2011
The top three finishers in the FedEx Cup all graduated from high school in the year of 2011. Those three players had 10 wins on tour this season. Needless to say, that class is impressive.
Another FedEx Cup champion crowned, another PGA Tour season in the books. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the Presidents Cup. And then the Safeway Open is the first event of the 2017-18 PGA Tour season beginning on October 5th.
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