Aug. 25 (UPI) — World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and defending champion Patrick Cantlay are the favorites to win the 2022 Tour Championship, which will run from Thursday through Sunday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The annual season finale of the PGA Tour caps off a three-tournament FedExCup Playoffs structure and offers a $18 million first-place prize. The Tour Championship will air on NBC and Golf Channel.
“I’m excited,” Cantlay told reporters Tuesday in Atlanta. “I’m coming back to a golf course that I like, and obviously I have some recent success on it.
“It’s nice to come to this tournament with a chance to win.”
World No. 5 Xander Schauffele, No. 4 Rory McIlroy and No. 6 Jon Rahm join Scheffler and Cantlay (No. 3) among the Top 5 favorites for the title. No. 14 Tony Finau, No. 2 Cameron Smith, No. 12 Sam Burns, No. 19 Sungjae Im and No. 7 Justin Thomas also are expected to contend.
McIlroy and Tiger Woods are the only golfers to win more that one FedExCup titles. No golfer has won the finale three times since the playoff format started in 2007.
“It’s always great to make it to East Lake at the end of the year,” McIlroy told reporters Wednesday.
“It means you’ve had a very solid season. I’ve had a lot of success at East Lake over the years. … I’ve won a couple of them and had chances, the majority of times I’ve been here, to win the FedExCup.
“It’s great to have another opportunity to try to do something no one has ever done before.”
Scheffler will tee off with two-stroke advantage, thanks to the tournament’s staggered scoring system. The top player in the FedExCup rankings will start at 10-under par.
Cantlay, who ranks second in the FedExCup, will start at 8-under. Will Zalatoris, who ranks third in the standings, withdrew from the tournament with an injury. He was not replaced in the 30-player field.
Schauffele and Burns will start the tournament at 6-under and 5-under, respectively. Smith, McIlroy, Finau, Im and Sepp Straka will start at 4-under.
Rahm, Thomas, Scott Stallings, Cameron Young and Matt Fitzpatrick will tee off at 3-under.
Max Homa, Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth, Joaquin Niemann and Viktor Hovland will start at 2-under. Collin Morikawa, Billy Horschel, Tom Hoge, Corey Conners and Brian Harman will be 1-under when they tee off.
K.H. Lee, J.T. Poston, Sahith Theegala, Adam Scott and Aaron Wise will start at even par.
“Starting the tournament ahead adds a little bit of pressure guys don’t usually feel, but that is one of the new challenges for this week,” Cantlay said.
The four-round event will not have a cut after the second round.
The runner-up will receive $6.5 million, a larger prize than any other PGA Tour event or major. The last-place finisher will receive $500,000.
Rain is in the forecast, but breezes are expected to be gentle throughout the tournament. Temperatures are expected to stay under 90 degrees.
East Lake Golf measures at 7,346 yards and par is set at 70. The course has a cluster of water hazards and 74 sand bunkers.
Cantlay started last year’s tournament at 10-under and carded an 11-under to edge Rahm by one stroke.
Since the current scoring system was implemented in 2019, the winner of the past three Tour Championship titles finished with an average combined score of 20-under.
Aaron Wise will tee off first at 11:45 a.m. EDT Thursday at East Lake. Scheffler and Cantlay will tee off at 2:05 p.m. in the final group.
How to watch
All times in EDT
First round from 1 to 6 p.m. on Golf Channel
Second round from 1 to 6 p.m. on Golf Channel
Third round from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Golf Channel; From 2:30 to 7 p.m. on NBC
Final round from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Golf Channel; From 1:30 to 6 p.m. on NBC