The PGA Tour season comes to an end here with the Tour Championship. As usual, the FedEx Cup winner will be decided at East Lake Golf Club with only the top 30 in the rankings qualified to compete.
However, players are awarded a starting score based on their ranking going into the Tour Championship with the number 1 ranked player for that season starting at -10, reducing on a sliding scale to a level par start for those seeded 26th to 30th.
The tournament was first played in 1987 and although there has been a number of format changes over the years, the Tour Championship has always consisted of the top 30 players on that year’s PGA Tour.
Initially switching between a number of courses, this has been held at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, each year since 2004.
|East Lake Golf Club||Atlanta, Georgia||7,346 Yards||$46,000,000|
East Lake Golf Club is the long-time host of the Tour Championship. After a spell of sharing hosting duties it became the sole host of the PGA Tour’s season-ending event in 2004. Hosting such an important event puts a big burden on East Lake to provide a fair test of golf. Although it is not every golfer’s cup of tea, the list of Tour Championship winners is varied enough to suggest that East Lake is a fair test for the top 30 players on the FedEx Cup standings who qualify for a place in the field.
No golf fan is in any doubt about the importance of distance and power in modern golf. The top echelons of the world rankings and of the FedEx Cup are dominated by big hitting players year after year but there is more than one way of competing on the PGA Tour and winning tournaments. That much is proven by East Lake, a course where longer hitters can thrive but where driving accuracy is more important than your average wide open PGA Tour course.
At 7,346 yards for a par of 70, East Lake is by no means a golf course for plodders but those who hit fairways and greens regularly tend to have success. That has been the foundation for players such as Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas who have consistently played well at East Lake whilst big hitters have had to rely on their approach play as much as their strength off the tee to do well as exemplified by Rory McIlroy during his wins in 2016 and 2019.
Tour Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2020||Dustin Johnson||-21 (-10 start)||3 Strokes|
|2019||Rory McIlroy||-18 (-5 start)||4 Strokes|
|2018||Tiger Woods||-11||2 Strokes|
|2017||Xander Schauffele||-12||1 Stroke|
|2015||Jordan Spieth||-9||4 Strokes|
|2014||Billy Horschel||-11||3 Strokes|
|2013||Henrik Stenson||-13||3 Strokes|
|2012||Brandt Snedeker||-10||3 Strokes|
About the Tour Championship
The Tour Championship is the final event on the PGA Tour calendar. Since the 2007 season, the competition has also been the last playoff event for the FedEx Cup, with the Northern Trust and BMW Championship being the other two current playoff tournaments. The first Tour Championship, which was named the Nabisco Championship, took place in 1987, with Tom Watson coming out on top. In 2019, a new format was introduced, with the winner being awarded the FedEx Cup and receiving a five-year PGA Tour exemption.
Over the years, the Tour Championship has taken place across various golf courses in the USA, including Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Pinehurst Resort in Carolina and the Champions Golf Club in Houston. East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia has been the tournament’s venue each year since 2004. The course was established back in 1904 and was the home course of Bobby Jones, one of the most influential people in the history of golf. Aside from winning the US Open four times and the Open Championship three times, he also co-founded the Masters!
Woods’ Three Tour Championship Wins
This has become a big tournament on the PGA Tour, with several of the world’s best winning the event since the first back in 1987. Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer of all time, has won this tournament on three occasions, which is the current record.
In 2007, Tiger won the first FedEx Cup, winning by a whopping eight strokes at East Lake. Woods’ score of 23 under par is still by far the best score in the Tour Championship. Tiger’s first victory came in 1999, when he beat Davis Love III to the line by four strokes. The American ace also prevailed in 2018 to win his third Tour Championship crown when he got the better of runner-up Billy Horschel by two strokes.
Rory’s Recent Success
Rory McIlroy has been very successful in this tournament in recent years. In fact, the man from Northern Ireland has won two of the last four Tour Championships (prior to the 2020 edition). McIlroy’s first triumph came in 2016, and a memorable one it was too. He was three shots down with three holes to play on the Sunday, but he managed to clinch the memorable win on the fourth playoff hole in a three-way playoff that also featured Ryan Moore and Kevin Chappell.
Two years later, Rory was on top once again, this time beating Xander Schauffele by four strokes. Only McIlroy, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have won the Tour Championship on more than one occasion.
Jordan’s Superb 2015 Season
Jordan Spieth capped off a remarkable season of golf in 2015 by winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, setting a record for a single-season earnings in the process. Spieth had a superb Tour Championship at East Lake, beating Danny Lee, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson by four strokes.
Spieth ended the season in the number one spot in the golf World Rankings. Before claiming his first and only Tour Championship, the Texas-born star won the Valspar Championship, the Masters Tournament, the US Open and the John Deere Classic. 2015 was certainly a year to remember for Spieth. He hasn’t quite evolved into the dominant force in golf as many had predicted, but his best years might still be ahead of him if he is able to reassert himself.
Henrik’s Historic Double
Swede Henrik Stenson became the first European golfer to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup when he reigned supreme in 2013. Shortly after his success at East Lake, Stenson won the DP World Championship, allowing him to claim the Tour’s Race to Dubai.
American duo Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker pushed the Swedish great all the way in the 2013 Tour Championship. However, Stenson stood firm to secure an impressive three-shot victory over the pair to claim his first FedEx Cup. And a whole lot of cash to boot!
Horschel’s Stunning Victory in 2014
Billy Horschel caused a big upset when he won the 2014 Tour Championship. Horschel had a memorable year, coming from nowhere to win the 2014 FedEx Cup. Just two days after his stunning victory at East Lake, Horschel celebrated the news by becoming a farther for the first time.
Horschel played some sparkling golf, shooting an 11-under par to see off heavyweights Jim Furyk and Rory McIlroy by three strokes. The Florida-born ace definitely enjoyed his time in the limelight.
Furyk’s Memorable Win in the Rain
Jim Furyk picked up his one and only Tour Championship in an unforgettable 2010 event in the rain. He was suspended from the first playoff event (The Barclays) after oversleeping and missing the pro-am tee time, so his victory of the 2010 The Tour Championship presented by Coca-Cola was even more memorable.
In rainy conditions in Atlanta, Furyk edged past Englishman Luke Donald, winning the Tour Championship by a single stroke. The popular Pennsylvanian picked up the FedEx Cup, $10m as well as the PGA and PGA Tour Player of the Year awards for the first time in 2010.
Variety of Nationalities Amongst Winners
In the early days of the event, it was players from the United States who dominated with every tournament from 1987 to 2000 being won by an American player. Since then, however, things have been a lot more varied with players from a range of nationalities being triumphant. It is notable that an Englishman has never won The Tour Championship, though Justin Rose has been second – or tied for second – twice (2015, 2012) and Luke Donald was the runner-up in 2012 behind Brandt Snedeker.
Non-US Winners of The Tour Championship (2001-2019)
|South Africa||Retief Goosen||2004|
|Northern Ireland||Rory McIlroy||2016, 2019|