PGA Tour Championship proving to be rich event

Tiger Woods is assured of being No. 1 in the world and No. 1 on the PGA Tour’s money list, no matter how he fares this weekend.
Erik S. Lesser/Associated Press
Tiger Woods is assured of being No. 1 in the world and No. 1 on the PGA Tour’s money list, no matter how he fares this weekend.

ATLANTA — No matter what happens at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is assured of being No. 1 in the world and No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list.

Everything else is up for grabs.

Woods has five wins this year, and no one else has more than two. Even so, the parity among top players this year is illustrated by how many of them have something to play for at East Lake when the Tour Championship gets underway Thursday.


And it’s more than just the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.

Get Breaking Sports Alerts in your inbox:
Be the first to know the latest sports news as it happens.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

‘‘Two trophies here this week, and also potentially throwing my name in a player of the year debate, which I think is quite a prestigious honor amongst the company that I play golf against,’’ Masters champion Adam Scott said.

The two trophies are the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, and they have gone to the same player four out of seven years.

Woods, who has won 10 player of the year awards, already is assured of winning the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list, which will be the 10th time in his career. He also appears safe to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. Going into East Lake, his scoring average of 68.87 is ahead of Steve Stricker (69.02).

This is one time when figuring out who wins the FedEx Cup — with a reset of points and all the projections — will be easier than predicting the player of the year.


‘‘Well, I’d like to get a sixth win, how about that?’’ Woods said. ‘‘And we’ll see what happens.’’

A victory would indeed give Woods six this year, including two World Golf Championships, The Players Championship, and the Tour Championship, along with the FedEx Cup.

This is the third time Woods has been the No. 1 seed going into the Tour Championship, and he won the FedEx Cup the previous two times. His second Cup was in 2009 — the last time the top seed at East Lake won the $10 million prize.

That’s also the last time Woods won PGA Tour player of the year.

Scott not only has a green jacket, he won the opening playoff event at The Barclays. He could make a strong case with three wins — all against strong fields — a major, and the FedEx Cup.


Phil Mickelson has a claret jug from the British Open, where he produced one of the greatest final rounds in major championship history. He won the Phoenix Open after coming within a fraction of an inch of shooting 59. He could bring the same credentials as Scott if he were to win the Tour Championship, boosted by having been a runner-up at the US Open and the sentimental factor of having never won player of the year.

‘‘It would be hard not to give him the vote,’’ Scott said of Mickelson. ‘‘Then he has three wins with a major, and Tiger has five wins, and Phil has the FedEx Cup. I think it’s a pretty strong case to say Phil. But if you feel like five wins is more impressive, you can put Tiger. I don’t really know. I think you’ve got a strong case to argue for both.’’

As for the 30-man field at the Tour Championship, the points have been reset so that the top five seeds only have to win the tournament to capture the cup. Everyone else has a mathematical chance, though only two players out of the top 10 in the FedEx Cup won — Jim Furyk (11th seed) in 2010 and Bill Haas (25th) in 2011.

Woods nailed down the No. 1 seed with a strong season and a runner-up finish at The Barclays. He is followed by Deutsche Bank winner Henrik Stenson, Scott, and BMW Championship winner Zach Johnson. Taking the fifth seed, without having won a playoff event, is Matt Kuchar, who only learned of his fortunes on the flight down to Atlanta with Keegan Bradley.

Bradley brought up that a year ago, he was flying to Atlanta with Brandt Snedeker, who went from No. 4 to No. 5 after the third playoff event, just like Kuchar. Snedeker won at Atlanta to go home with $11.44 million (the Tour Championship is worth $1.44 million)

‘‘So I’m hoping that somehow there’s some sort of fate there, with Keegan being the middleman,’’ Kuchar said.