Tour Championship picks 2022: Why Xander Schauffele will chase down Scottie Scheffler
Another week, another win. After two of our experts – Christopher Powers and Pat Mayo – correctly predicted Will Zalatoris’ victory at the FedEx St. Jude Championship, Powers hit again on Patrick Cantlay at the BMW Championship, as did Lee Alldrick. We’re hot. Scorching hot, some would say.
Unfortunately, the PGA Tour regular season is coming to an end just as we’re starting to peak. Or, to put it another way, it’s ending just in time, because we can’t stay this hot for long.
We can, however, stay hot for one more week. Can anyone catch Scottie Scheffler at this week’s Tour Championship at East Lake? A few of our experts think so, at least in the starting-strokes format. We’ve also selected two winners for the “without” starting strokes format, forgoing our normal top-10 section. Let’s bring this thing home, shall we?
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Tour Championship.
Tour Championship picks 2022: Winner WITH starting strokes
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Scottie Scheffler (+225, DraftKings) — I know that’s not going out on a limb at all. But I think he’s the bet. He has proven he can win from ahead. He’s in good form after a narrow miss last week at the BMW. It would be icing on the cake, and he’d lock up POY honors.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Xander Schauffele (+550, DraftKings) — I’m backing Xander without starting strokes this week. Considering he’s only starting four strokes behind Scottie Scheffler, I’ll back him in this market, too.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Xander Schauffele (+650, FanDuel) — Xander’s success at East Lake and in no-cut events isn’t a secret by this point. He’s long and accurate off the tee, a crucial combo for this course, and he is starting at six under. With Will Zalatoris’ withdrawal, that puts him behind just two golfers to start the week.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Cantlay (+300, DraftKings) — The second half of the season for Cantlay has been nothing short of magnificent. Over his last 11 starts, he has two wins, two runner-up finishes and five more top 15s. Those 42 rounds have produced more than two strokes gained per round. Not only has he been one of the best putters on tour during that stretch, he’s gained at least 0.25 strokes per round in all four major categories. He doesn’t have a flaw in his game and will look to successfully defend his FedEx Cup this week.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Rory McIlroy (10-1, PointsBet) — Rory came from five back in 2019 to win by three shots, and given his prodigious length off the tee and his prolonged consistency this summer, he could absolutely do it again.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Sam Burns (22-1, DraftKings) — While I do think Scottie wins with ease, I can’t bring myself to bet it. Bermuda Burns at 22-1, however, is very intriguing. He’s only five back, in the prime “lurking” zone, and he has 72 holes to make up the deficit. We’ve seen guys make up bigger deficits in 36 holes, so it’s not out of the question. If he can recapture the scorching-hot iron play we saw in Memphis two weeks ago, he’ll make enough putts to seriously challenge Scheffler and Cantlay at the top.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Scottie Scheffler (+225, DraftKings) — Despite his win last week I don’t fancy Cantlay this week which gives Scheffler a four-shot advantage over his next nearest competitor and a six-shot lead over all but four players in the field. That’s a big advantage. I’m happy to take the short odds considering he comes into this event ranked top 10 for SG/putting on Bermuda greens, SG/total at East Lake, SG/total at similar courses and Opportunities Gained over the last two months.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel is on FIRE. Last week, after both Christopher Powers and Pat Mayo hit on Will Zalatoris at 22-1 in Memphis, Powers went back-to-back by correctly predicting Patrick Cantlay’s BMW win at 14-1. That gives him four outright hits this season (Joaquin Niemann 60-1 at Riviera; Scottie Scheffler 22-1 at WMPO), which is tied for the most on the panel with Lee Alldrick, who also hit on Cantlay after recently predicting both of Tony Finau’s victories at the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic as well as Rory McIlroy’s RBC Canadian Open win (8-1). Mayo’s Zalatoris cash was his third of the year, the first coming with Luke List’s 70-1 win at Torrey Pines and the second with McIlroy in Canada. Rick Gehman also picked up two wins in the fall by correctly predicting Sam Burns (16-1) to win the Sanderson Farms Championship and Viktor Hovland (19-1) to win the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, as well as Justin Thomas at the PGA (16-1), and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
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Tour Championship picks 2022: Winner WITHOUT starting strokes
Caddie: Cameron Young (30-1, DraftKings) — He has played well all year especially in big events with some decent finishes the last two weeks. It’s a golf course where a draw off the tee is very helpful, and he’ll be free-wheeling at least the first couple of days.
Mayo: Xander Schauffele (+750, DraftKings) — The 2017 winner at East Lake (And 2019, 2020 runner up (where he actually had the lowest 72-hole score)) had a hiccup at water logged TPC Southwind but rebounded quite nicely in Delaware. He finished third in SG/ball-striking, notching his third top-five finish over his past five starts. Worth noting, he’s never finished worse than seventh at East Lake in six tries.
Gdula: Viktor Hovland (27-1, FanDuel) — Hovland needs to make up ground in the net competition, as he starts at two under. In two starts at East Lake, he has gained strokes in all three tee-to-green areas in both years. His underlying putting data is really good, and we know he’s a strong birdie-maker.
Gehman: Matthew Fitzpatrick (18-1, DraftKings) — East Lake generally skews as one of the more difficult courses on the PGA Tour schedule and shooting just a few under par each day is likely to put you in contention for the “Shadow Leaderboard” win. Fitzpatrick offers one of the most well-rounded games on tour. He’s gained strokes from tee-to-green in 10 of his last 11 and added more gains with his flat stick in eight of his last nine.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Smith (20-1, DraftKings) — These odds don’t really make too much sense to me. Smith’s been one of the best players in the world over the past 24 rounds, and approach will be important this week. The only thing that gives me pause is his penchant to miss fairways, but I’m willing to take a gamble on these odds in such a short field.
Powers, Golf Digest: Cameron Young (30-1, DraftKings) — The kid plays with reckless abandon on regular weeks. This week, he’s quite literally being asked to play with reckless abandon in order to have any chance of winning.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele (+750, DraftKings) — Schauffele comes into this event ranked first for SG/total at East Lake and at courses similar to East Lake. It’s not surprising then to see that he has won the lowest 72-hole score here at East Lake twice in the last five years (finishing second, third and seventh the other three times). He also ranks sixth for SG/total in the field this week for SG/total over the last two months so his form is hot, too.
Tour Championship picks 2022: Longshot/Sleeper to win (without starting strokes)
Caddie: Joaquin Niemann (30-1, DraftKings) — This would be another example of picking a player with a shot shape off the tee. Cameron Young, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy and Niemann all have that natural draw shape that will come in handy.
Mayo: Scott Stallings (80-1, DraftKings) — Every year, there’s the one player who fights his way from the back end of the standings, gets hot in August and makes a run towards the FedEx Cup. They rarely end up winning (thanks for nothing 2016 Ryan Moore and 2021 Kevin Na), but sometimes you get Billy Horschel and Bill Haas. While Aaron Wise or Corey Conners may make more sense, there’s no one from this tier hotter than Stallings entering East Lake. Plus, longer odds. That never hurts.
Gdula: Aaron Wise (42-1, FanDuel) — Wise starts at even par and will need to climb to earn points, so the aggression factor isn’t in question. He’s due for big-time putting regression and has above-average birdie-chance numbers.
Gehman: Tony Finau (16-1, DraftKings) — Starting six shots off the lead means that Finau has his work cut out for him, but if anyone is up for the task, it’s him. Finau will need to tap into his ceiling this week, but he has a ceiling higher than anyone else on tour. I’m not even exaggerating. There have only been seven occurrences this year where a golfer has gained 17-plus strokes to the field. Finau has three of them and no other golfer on tour has done it multiple times, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s more than capable of closing this gap with a great week and these odds are too juicy to pass up.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brian Harman (80-1, FanDuel) — This is a pick that will get nobody excited, but Harman has quietly been one of the most consistent golfers all summer with a third-place at the FedEx St. Jude, a sixth-place at The Open and an eighth at the Travelers. You know he’s going to find fairways, so he should be able to give himself a chance at these juicy odds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sahith Theegala (80-1, DraftKings) — Last week, Theegala admitted he felt some serious heat on Sunday while he was sneaking his way into East Lake. Now that he’s here and he’s starting at even par, 10 back, he should feel no pressure and he’s free to fire away from the get-go.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Tony Finau (16-1, DraftKings) — Finau has been excellent over the last two months. He has two wins under his belt and comes into this event ranked first for SG/tee-to-green. He ranks eighth in the field for SG/total at East Lake and has two seventh-place finishes to his name here.
Tour Championship picks 2022: Players we're fading
Caddie: Tony Finau (14-1, BetRivers) — Sure, he has obviously proven he can play well anywhere. But he loves to cut the driver, and the ultra-fast greens at East Lake could cause him issues.
Mayo: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) — Too many strokes to claw back from at such short odds.
Gdula: Jon Rahm (14-1, FanDuel) — Rahm was last year’s co-leader in 72-hole scoring, but he’s starting at three under, two shots lower than the only come-from-behind winner we’ve had in this new format. I think he’s in a great position to play well – but not overcoming seven shots on Scheffler, five on Cantlay, etc.
Gehman: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) — Rahm is stuck in a math problem where he doesn’t necessarily possess the answer. Starting seven shots off the lead, a Rahm victory would be the largest comeback recorded in this format. If we start to calculate the paths to Rahm hoisting the FedEx Cup, we quickly realize that he needs to gain 17 strokes to the field over four rounds. That’s something he’s done exactly once in his career, when he won the 2020 Memorial. Barring the best four rounds of Rahm’s career, it’s unlikely he will find victory in Atlanta.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) — Ditto what the others said … he simply needs way too much to happen to make up those seven shots.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (12-1, DraftKings) — Not much to add here that hasn’t already been said.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Cantlay (+300, DraftKings) — Sure, he played very well last week, but East Lake does not suit his game. In 72-hole stroke play here Cantlay has finished in the bottom 10 three out of four tries. It’s not surprising then that he ranks second-to-last in the field this week for SG/total at similar courses. One of the main reasons for this is he is a poor putter on Bermuda greens, ranking just 19th in the field this week for SG/putting on Bermuda greens over the last two years.
Tour Championship picks 2022: Matchups
Caddie: Billy Horschel (+105) over Collin Morikawa (DraftKings) — Billy has had success here and unfortunately Collin just cannot seem to find any consistency with the putter.
Mayo: Justin Thomas (+115) over Jon Rahm (DraftKings) — I have both JT and Rahm rated about equal this week, so we’re getting plus money on a coin flip. Thomas doesn’t have the best form at the moment, but in the 72-hole gross portion of this event, he’s finished with a top-10 score in each of his six starts.
Gdula: Scott Stallings (-142) over Sepp Straka (FanDuel) — We’re losing a stroke here to start and laying heavy odds, but Straka is the weakest long-term golfer in this field by a pretty wide margin. Stallings has about 0.7 strokes per round on him in my model, so he can make up that gap.
Gehman: Jordan Spieth (-125) over Max Homa (DraftKings) — Spieth was a roller-coaster again last week, contending for the lead before falling to T-19. Despite his sour weekend, Spieth still notched his third top-20 finish in his last four starts. Homa, who was once the hottest ball-striker on tour this summer, has cooled off significantly. He’s lost strokes on approach in five straight, something he hasn’t done in over two years. Now he heads to East Lake for the first time without his full complement of assets.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Viktor Hovland (-104) over Joaquin Niemann (FanDuel) — This is a bit of a fishy line. Hovland has far superior course history here, with Niemann losing a combined 17 strokes at East Lake in two appearances. Hovland had a fifth-place here last year, so despite oddsmakers hinting that they know something we don’t, I’ll take the bait with the course history.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (+195) over Xander Schauffele (DraftKings) — I understand Xander has serious history here, but he’s only one stroke up on Burns, who feasts on Bermuda and has finished inside the top 20 in four of his last eight starts. This is just an absurd price.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Corey Conners (+105) over Collin Morikawa (Bet365) — Morikawa was all out of sorts during the final round last week and this seems to be a bit of a trend right now. He comes into this event ranked second-to-last for SG/putting on Bermuda greens over the last two years and sixth-to-last for SG/total over the last two months. Conners on the other hand ranks top 15 for SG/total over the last two months, Opportunities Gained over the last two months and SG/putting on Bermuda greens over the last two years.
Matchup Results from the BMW Championship: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Rahm (-110) over Thomas); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Scott (-125) over Harman); Powers: 1 for 1 (Cantlay (+100) over McIlroy); Alldrick: 1 for 1 (C. Davis (-110) over Riley); Caddie: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 27-10-4 (up 15.52 units); Powers: 24-15-4 (up 8.64 units); Caddie: 23-17-3 (up 4.65 units); Alldrick: 23-18-2 (up 2.17 units); Gehman: 19-18-5 (down 0.49 units); Gdula: 20-20-1 (down 1.53 units); Hennessey: 21-21-1 (down 4.4 units)
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long- and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio.) Mayo (@ThePME) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.