MinLast tournament of the year! Only 30 players left at East Lake (excluding Hunter Mahan who said screw it and is playing over in Europe this week). Who’s gonna win? Will the $10 million giant check that I assume the winner gets fit in their pocket? What does Morgan Pressel look like in a video game? Find out below!
About the Sponsor
Compared to pretty much every other sponsor on the PGA Tour, Coca-Cola has got to seem like the odd one out. I mean we got insurance companies, we got car companies, we got banks, and we got … soda?
I suppose it fits because Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta, and they they are sitting on an pile of cash with a market cap of over 168B. Geez who knew you could make that much money in soda?
Well obviously Coca-Cola isn’t going to put all it’s carbonation in a drink that goes well with whiskey, so I looked up some of the other ways they make dat money. They own a couple other brands of beverage, including Minute Maid, Sprite, and Barq’s, but by far the most interesting way Coke has made money is by buying Columbia Pictures in 1982 for $692 million and selling it in 1989 to Sony for $3 billion. Not a bad return for 7 years. In reality though, I guess Coke is just one of those brands the pretty much everyone everywhere likes. And the fact that they distribute in 200 countries doesn’t hurt.
Finally, after going to the BMW last week and seeing all of the BMW side shows, I feel like I’m in a unique position to tell Coca-Cola what soda-themed attractions they should have besides just the golf. First, all the water jugs out there are now Coke jugs. The Tour is adding those polar bears from all those commercials to all the lakes surrounding East Lake if nothing else to prepare them for life after all the ice caps melt. And finally, I can only assume that if you get a hole in one, they give you a bottle of coke.
Also if you search google for “coke golf” in hopes of getting images of golf stuff with the Coca-Cola logo on it, you might see some pictures of Dustin Johnson.
About the Tournament
It’s all about the cup.
The TOUR Championship (don’t know why “tour” is all caps but it is) is the culmination of the FedEx Cup where only the top 30 in points are allowed to tee it up. The Tour Championship has been held at East Lake since 2005, even before the FedEx Cup was invented. At that point, it just signified the last tournament of the fall where the good guys played. Not that there was anything stopping them from playing in the fall series, but most hung up their cleats after this and whatever team match play cup was that fall.
Now with FedEx paying out 10 mil in cash, it’s a little different. The points are reset for the 30 guys to make sure that there’s going to be some drama on Sunday. Earlier versions of the FedEx Cup had issues where the leader was so far ahead that it the leader was just hoping to not sprain a wrist during any of the rounds. Now if any of the top 5 guys win the tournament, they win the Cup. Everyone else in the field needs to win the tournament and get some help.
This has really got to be an odd tournament to go as a spectator. There are only 30 guys — that’s 15 groups in twosomes the first two rounds. Actually, if I was going to the tournament, here’s what I’d do. Get there early enough and plunk myself by the 1st green at the spot closest to the hole. After every group goes through, I’d go and pick a grouping and follow them for the entire back nine. You’d get to see everyone come through a hole (and at this point in the season you’re going to know everyone by face and name), and you get to see the pace and quality of play over a longer stretch of holes.
About the Course
Located about 5 miles east of downtown Atlanta, East Lake Country Club is quite the gem in the southern United States. Founded way back in 1898, the club was originally a part of the Atlanta Athletic Club. Yup, the same club that owns the course where David Toms won the PGA Championship back in 2001.
After decades of use, including being the home course of Bobby Jones for his entire life, “[t]he surrounding neighborhood deteriorated as the 1960s fell victim to white flight and urban decay.” That’s a quote taken directly from their website. So in the midst of this “white flight”, the AAC sold the course figuring that since they also had that other course, they were going to be fine on the golf front.
The course was saved from development when a group of members purchased the property and formed East Lake Country Club, and after a few more decades where, “middle-income homeowners fled the surrounding neighborhood, replaced by low-income renters,” a charitable foundation bought the club with the vision to restore it as a tribute to Bobby Jones, as well as revitalize the surrounding community. In 1994, Rees Jones restored the original Donald Ross (swoon) layout and now all of the club’s revenue goes to support the East Lake Foundation and turn it into a “thriving community”.
At 7,307 yards, par 70, the course isn’t short. It’s got wide fairways and decently large greens to make things a little easier. Also the course is apparently on the Tiger Woods video games, so if you really want some inside information about what to expect, go buy a copy of that. In fact, here’s a great video of someone playing the course as Morgan Pressel. I won’t spoil her score so if anyone wants to watch the video without knowing the ending, they’re able to do that.
Our boy Billy Horschel completed his sweep of the final two playoff events by winning the Tour Championship with a 3 shot victory. His win earned him around 1.4 million for that week, and a 10 million dollar bonus for winning the playoffs. Yup as mentioned, dude got 10 mil in cash. So how’s he played this year? Well he’s 24th in the world, hasn’t won, and was left off the Presidents Cup team. But who cares, he won all that money last year! Well he probably cares, and this is just another case showing how tough it is to play golf for a living.
What to Watch For
Harris English!!! — Yay! Yay Harris English for finally making the Tour Championship. This is your third year on tour. You’ve done pretty well with $8,157,679 in career earnings, you got one win in Memphis a couple years ago, but this is the first time you’ve made it to the Tour Championship. His first two years on tour Harris finished 31st and 32nd in FedEx Cup points, and coming into last week he was 32nd going in to the BMW. With a 19th place finish, Harris secured a spot at East Lake. And probably breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Player of the Year Race — A couple months ago, you’d have been laughed out of the room if you even thought that someone other than Jordan Spieth could be the player of the year. Well now after Jason Day has finished 1, T12, 1, 1, T12, and 1 in his past 6 events, there’s a little talk about how Day could possibly be spoiler to Spieth’s golden year. So what are the golf writers going to do? There’s certainly a lot of debate around this, especially if Day manages to win this week.
Point Reset — Who cares what everyone’s FedEx Cup points were at at the end of last week! Let’s reset them! I’m a little torn on this issue, you could have a guy win the first three events and then get second to somebody in the top 5 and not win overall.
$128,000 — Or at least what last place got in 2013. Jim Furyk WDing? Still gets the cash.
96 Strokes — The number of strokes pixel Morgan Pressel took to play East Lake in the video above.