The PGA Tour season rolls into its final week as the FedExCup Playoffs culminate with their final event, The TOUR Championship.
The field is down to the final 30 players eligible to become the FedExCup champion and $10 million richer. Adam Scott won The Barclays at Liberty National,Henrik Stenson won the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston and Zach Johnson won the BMW Championship at Conway Farms. This week the tour has pulled into East Lake GC in Atlanta Georgia for the TOUR Championship.
East Lake GC is the permanent host of the TOUR Championship. The Atlanta based course is also the home course of golfing legend Bobby Jones. The Par-70, 7,154 yard course will be a test for the world’s best and is a fitting course to host the finale of the FedExCup Playoffs. A prevailing thought at this week’s Tour Championship will be short siding. While every course has its challenges, East Lake truly penalizes players for missing greens on the short side. Even with that thought in mind there are certain holes at east Lake that will play a larger factor than others. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The Par-3, 214 yard second hole will not play to the scorecard yardage due to the slight elevation change but will be a long Par-3 none the less. The green at number two has a severe slope from left to right and back to front. The green here is also protected by bunkers on each side. This hole is a perfect example and the beginning of the prevailing thought to avoid the short side.
The Par-4, 520 yard fifth hole is a Par-5 shortened for this event. Players should not let the 520 yard scorecard length scare them as a properly struck tee shot will catch a down slope that rockets the ball forward. If players miss the landing area they will be left with a hybrid or fairway wood into this Par-4. If the tee shot is properly placed players will have a long iron off a downhill lie making getting it close a challenge to say the least. Expect more bogeys than birdies here this week.
The Par-4, 469 yard tenth hole will require a quality tee shot positioned to the left side of the fairway to allow players to even see the green on their approaches to this large putting surface.The green at 10 slopes from back right to front left and its size ensures that three putting is in play here all week.
The closing stretch at East Lake is as challenging and demanding as any final three holes on tour. The Par-4, 481 yard 16th hole is a tight driving hole with its landing area only measuring 25 yards wide. Assuming a player finds the fairway they are left with a mid to long iron into a receptive green that is guarded by two heart stopping bunkers just waiting for a misplayed approach. The back to front sloping green will take anything from a birdie to bogey putt this week.
At the 17th hole players will tee off on the final Par-4 at East Lake that measures 453 yards. Tee shots that miss the landing area to the right will be challenged by two bunkers making a regulation approach all but impossible. Two more bunkers around the green await poor approach shots into this large, undulating green. Players salivating at a ball challenging a back pin location will be heartbroken when the ridge that splits the green in two pulls their balls away from the hole. Par here every day is a great score.
The closing hole at East Lake is the Par-3, 235 yard 18th hole. Many will think that a Par-3 will not provide the level of drama that many want. Oh but are they wrong. When the wind shifts here players could hit as much as a fairway wood into this Par-3 but at best case it is still a long iron into a large two-tiered green. The green is protected by two bunkers, one on the right and one of the left. The 18th green is slick and players must be mindful to keep the ball below the hole or a very costly three putt can await them. The setup of the 18th at East Lake is not long but is still full of drama.
The grind of the long PGA Tour season is behind all 30 players by now. They are filled with adrenaline and ready to capture the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs title that comes with a cool $10 million bonus. Will Brandy Snedeker Repeat? Will Tiger, Haas or Furyk win another FedExCup title? Will we be graced with a new winner in 2013? There can be only one winner but who will that be? Let’s take a look.
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