Everyone in the field at East Lake this week is trying to catch Webb Simpson.
Welcome to another edition of Fantasy Fix, where we can only hope Justin Rose doesn't win again this week. Nothing against the affable Englishman, but we just can't take another round of cheesy wordplay on his last name. Moving on, this will be the final fantasy installment of the year. I know how devastating that news must be to some and I wish I could be there in person to help get you through this tearful goodbye with a hug. But let's put the tissues away, pull ourselves together and finish strong.
The FedEx Cup playoffs wrap up with the Tour Championship at East Lake GC in Atlanta. Only the top 30 players on the PGA Tour will tee it up. Well, more like the top 20 players from the whole season and about 10 guys who happened to play well in one of the post-season events.
Random tournament fact: East Lake is one of the few courses that ends with a par 3. The over/under for Johnny Miller and the rest of the NBC crew mentioning that fact during the weekend project should be placed at about 247.5.
Jim Furyk. The Grinder has a great chance to take the title again on a course where he is very comfortable, even in the pouring rain. Oh wait, we forgot about that pesky rule in which you have to be in the top 30 to qualify... Amazingly, Furyk's absence keeps alive an odd trend. Not only have the four previous winners of the FedEx Cup not defended their title, they haven't even had a chance to at the season's final big event. In other words, whoever comes away with the trophy this week might want to watch his step as he gets back into his courtesy car.
STUD OF THE WEEK
Luke Donald. Last week he spotted Justin Rose 12 shots on Day 1 and still found himself in contention on Sunday. Last year he nearly won this event, falling to Furyk by a shot. Bottom line, he's been the best player in the world all year and a second victory would give him the FedEx Cup title and should wrap up the PGA Tour's Player of the Year Award.
JUST BECAUSE PICKS
Nick Watney and Webb Simpson. Other than Donald, these two have had the most consistent seasons and like Luke, a win here should wrap up the POY award. Watney has been struggling of late, with just one top 10 in his last six events, but he finished T-4 in this event last year with rounds of 63 and 67 over the weekend. Simpson, the FedEx Cup points leader, has been struggling a little as well. He only finished fifth last week.
AMERICAN IDOL AUDITIONS
, this week could essentially be viewed as a tryout for Brandt Snedeker and Bill Haas, who are both looking to be U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples' final pick for the team. But don't forget about__Keegan Bradley__, who put on quite a show of his own the last time he was in the Atlanta area to impress the judges. Speaking of which, Freddie seems like he would fit into the Randy Jackson mold of judges. For some reason, I can hear him saying "your performance was a little pitchy, but you're still my dawg." All of these guys have flaws, but Couples will have to choose one. After watching all of them struggle under pressure last week, he might wish he could put it to an audience vote.
FAN MAIL BREAK
"Hey, Alex. Thanks for keeping me entertained all year with the column. You should do one for the Champions Tour next year. Anyway, who should I make as my last captain's pick for the Presidents Cup? Take care, Freddie."
While I appreciate Couples seeking my expert opinion, I must decline due to my Wake Forest bias. But I will give our captain a bit of advice: make sure you toss those rainsuits Corey Pavin left on your doorstep. OK, so Freddie really didn't write, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't, even in the off-season. Contrary to what my boss probably thinks, I don't go on vacation until the PGA Tour really gets cranking again in January. Please feel free to email me
with comments, questions or just to make fun of my picks. And of course, you can follow me on Twitter
DUD OF THE WEEK
It's gotten too easy to pick on Phil Mickelson, so we'll single out Charl Schwartzel, who actually isn't at East Lake this week, instead. Why isn't the Masters winner going to tee it up? Because he missed the first FedEx Cup playoff event of course. To go hunting. While the PGA Tour continues to try to push its playoffs as a big deal, stuff like this doesn't help. I don't think Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay is going to miss the divisional playoffs to go deep-sea fishing. But back to a player in the field who we are down on...
GUY WE WOULDN'T TOUCH WITH HIS LONG PUTTER
Phil Mickelson. OK, so we lied about picking on Phil, even though he's the only player in the field to have won at East Lake twice. There's been so much attention paid to his new toy on the greens
, but really, it's been every other aspect of his game that has been sputtering. Speaking of belly putters, the rumors are true that I was spotted using a belly putter on the Golf Digest office putting green. Seems like a good idea if everyone else is doing it. Then again, my college buddies and I used to think it was a good idea to frequent Dynasty Buffet, an all-you-can eat Chinese joint in Winston Salem, N.C. Did I mention it cost $5.99?
WE DIDN'T FORGET ABOUT YOU, STEVIE
Adam Scott. The Aussie, and of course, caddie Steve Williams, are the only players in the field to have won on this course other than Phil and Vijay Singh. Seriously, Scott has to like his chances with the way he's been playing and on the Atlanta track where he once had nine straight rounds under par. It's just good for Scott's sake that golf legend and former East Lake member Bobby Jones isn't around to see the gardening rake that he putts with now.
FREE FANTASY FOOTBALL ADVICE
I thought my New York Giants were cursed, but they've got nothing on the Kansas City Chiefs. It's as if Al Davis' ghost has put a hex on them. Wait, Al Davis is still alive? And he's still running the Oakland Raiders? Oops. OK, well maybe someone with an axe to grind has gotten ahold of a voodoo doll dressed in a Chiefs' uniform. And one that comes equipped with a readily-accessible ACL...
ONE MORE TIME...
Matt Kuchar and Jason Day. We said it last week, and we'll say it again, these two guys have had too good of seasons not to come away with at least one win. Last year, neither played particularly well in their first attempt at this tournament, but we expect to see both near the top of the leader board, especially the local favorite, Kooch. Not that they really need a strong finish considering they've combined to make nearly $8 million this year.
YEAR IN REVIEW
As expected, in Year 2 we hit some home runs and also had a few whiffs. There were the predicted wins of Nick Watney at Doral and David Toms at Colonial, as well as the disastrous picks of Lee Westwood at the British and Jim Furyk at the U.S. Open (they both missed the cut -- thanks a lot, guys). There was also the early-season guarantee that Kevin Na would claim his first PGA Tour title. He essentially didn't contend the rest of the year, but at least he did make some big news. For making a 16 on a hole...In any matter, thanks for checking us out every week. Good luck finishing out your leagues in strong fashion, and as always, don't be shy about sharing some of those winnings.
*-- Alex Myers is a contributing editor for GolfDigest.com. Feel free to e-mail him
and please follow him on Twitter (@AlexMyers3
) since he has self-esteem issues.*