Tour Championship picks 2023: Sungjae Im is ready to peak
Well, we made it to the very end, folks, and we made sure to get at least one more winner for you before we call it a season. Shoutout to our anonymous caddie picker of the week, who correctly predicted Viktor Hovland's stunning victory at the BMW Championship.
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Do we have one more in us? We think so, though with the wonky, starting strokes format, it's a bit harder to hit a proper outright this week. Unless, of course, you explore the "winner without"-type markets, which is just what our panel did for the Tour Championship at East Lake.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Tour Championship.
Tour Championship picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Rory McIlroy (+330, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Rory admitted he “found” something on the back nine at the BMW, which is scary for the rest of the field, considering how much he tears up East Lake and how elite his ball-striking has been lately.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Sungjae Im (35-1, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — After going MIA for a few months upon his return from winning in Korea, Sungjae is almost all the way back to top form. He’s had consecutive top 10s in the playoffs and now gets a course perfectly suited to his skill in East lake, an accuracy-based, Bermudagrass, Donald Ross design.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Patrick Cantlay (10-1, winner without Scottie Scheffler, FanDuel) — Cantlay starts at four under, which means he’s four off of Hovland, and he can make up that gap. Cantlay trails just Scheffler and Rory in terms of strokes-gained/tee-to-green over the past 50 rounds, per datagolf, and is due for some positive putting regression soon.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Rory McIlroy (+330, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — McIlroy has gained at least eight strokes to the field in each of his last nine starts, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Now he’ll earn the benefit of starting just three shots off the lead and also boxing out the vast majority of the field from overtaking him. His record around East Lake is unmatched, gaining 1.44 strokes per round over 36 rounds. This is a perfect storm setting up for McIlroy to win his fourth FedEx Cup.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Sungjae Im (35-1, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — Sungjae finished runner-up here last year, and given the hot ball-striking—gaining more than seven strokes on the weekend at Olympia Fields—he enters this week with as much confidence as he’s probably had in awhile.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Sungjae Im (35-1, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — Starting at two under, eight off the lead of Scottie Scheffler, Im will be full speed ahead when he arrives at East Lake, something he’s become accustomed to at the Tour Championship. Last year, after starting at four under, Im when 16 under cumulative, which was only one shot shy of winner Rory McIlroy in both the 72-hole cumulative format and the starting strokes format. Couple that with the fact that Im’s finally heating up again, having posted back-to-back top 10s in the playoffs, and I like his chances to take it deep every day and “win” the tournament within the tournament this week.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Russell Henley (35-1, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — Considering I feel strongly that Scottie Scheffler is going to run away with the actual FedEx Cup, let’s turn our attention to hunting for value in the “without” market. Henley just put together his third top-10 finish in a row at the BMW Championship, where he finished second in an elite field to only Scheffler in strokes-gained/tee-to-green. The Georgia alum now travels to a golf course in East Lake that should be far better suited for his game than Olympia Fields.
Past results: As we head into the final week of the season, the panel remains as hot as ever, with 14 outright victories on the year as a group. Our anonymous caddie is the latest to hit a winner, cashing on Viktor Hovland at the BMW at 16-1. Stephen Hennessey also recently nailed Lucas Glover’s Wyndham Championship victory at 80-1 (!), while Pat Mayo picked up his first win of the season with Rickie Fowler’s comeback win at the Rocket Mortgage at 14-1. Rick Gehman was on Fowler, too, giving him two outright hits on the year. Brandon Gdula leads the way with SIX of his own, his last coming in the U.S. Open where Gdula touted Wyndham Clark at 85-1 (!!).
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Tour Championship picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Brian Harman (50-1, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — This is no fluke of a season from Brian. He is an absolute grinder and last week proved he can contend on any type of golf course right now.
Mayo: Lucas Glover (55-1, winner without starting strokes, Bet365) — He wins two weeks in a row, has a poor putting week at the BMW and now his odds are double what they were last week in a much smaller field. The Glove still gained four strokes on approach last week, and East Lake suits his game much more.
Gdula: Tommy Fleetwood (35-1, winner without Scottie Scheffler, FanDuel) — This is a pretty solid number for Fleetwood, who starts three under. That puts him five off the lead and four off of McIlroy and three off of Rahm, but he can go low and has the irons dialed in.
Gehman: Brian Harman (50-1, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Harman’s season has been sensational and his recent form offers plenty of reason to be optimistic. He’s earned five top-12 finishes in his last six starts, which also includes a win at the Open and a runner-up during that stretch. It’ll be difficult for him to win, starting at four under, but he’s a likely candidate to fly up the leaderboard.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Max Homa (35-1, winner with starting strokes, Caesars Sportsbook) — I’m with CP here … Homa has proven that he thrives when he’s in contention, and if he cards a low one in round one or two, he’ll be right there. He’s got nothing to lose, which is a dangerous thing in this format, as we’ve seen with guys making up big deficits in the past.
Powers, Golf Digest: Max Homa (35-1, winner with starting strokes, Caesars Sportsbook) — Yes, he’s six back, but he has four rounds to make it up. Viktor Hovland made up a seven-shot deficit in just two rounds last week. We know Homa can go mega-low, doing so last year here at East Lake, shooting a second-round 62 and backing it up with two 66s to finish just four back of McIlroy (solo third in cumulative scoring).
Lack: Tony Finau (60-1, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — This might be wishful thinking, but I still believe a Ryder Cup spot is up for grabs this week for whoever plays the best out of Lucas Glover, Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley, Russell Henley, and Tony Finau. The six-time PGA Tour winner is still the class of that group if we take long-term form into the equation, although he has not been playing like it recently. If he's got anything left in the tank this season however, East Lake is the type of golf course that should accentuate what he does best. It's been a frustrating couple of months for a player that still somehow ranks in the top 12 in the world in true strokes-gained over the last 12 months. Let's give him one more shot to revert back to his long-term baseline.
Tour Championship picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (+130, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — I expect Scheffler to be there until the very end. He’ll bounce right back after last week. But when it comes down to the last few holes, there’s a mountain of evidence that proves his putting stroke is in a weird place right now.
Mayo: Jon Rahm (+800, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — Game has slipped in the past few months. Will still win player of the year if you can find good odds on him in that market, though.
Gdula: Jon Rahm (+850, winner without starting strokes, FanDuel) — Starting at six under, Rahm is within striking distance but is still overvalued. He should be more in the 10-1 to 12-1 range.
Gehman: Patrick Cantlay (16-1, with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Despite a FedEx Cup win in 2021, Cantlay’s record around East Lake is pretty scary. He’s never gained strokes putting in five trips and has given back a total of 21.07 strokes on the greens in those 20 rounds. His position on the leaderboard, six shots off the lead, will be a significant uphill battle and even more so when you look at the names at the top of the board that he would have to surpass.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (+130, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — I’d personally love to see Scheffler get it done, given his historic ball-striking season has only been paid off with a few victories. But the young Texan has lost almost a stroke per round putting at East Lake in his prior 12 rounds. This price is just silly and proof of why this format doesn’t work.
Powers, Golf Digest: Scottie Scheffler (+130, winner with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Faded him last week and almost looked like a fool, but felt better about it when he, not surprisingly, missed a couple of crucial late putts that would have gotten him over the line. There’s no question he’ll be there until the very end this week with a two-shot lead, but can you really trust that putter at +130? CrazyTown.
Lack: Jon Rahm (+800, winner without starting strokes, DraftKings) — I’m not ready to sound the alarm bells yet, but something is up with Jon Rahm’s driver. It’s now been back-to-back starts where the Spaniard’s greatest weapon has not been remotely up to his usual standards. It’s always cause for concern when a player’s greatest strength turns into a weakness, and while it could flip at any moment, Rahm’s recent off the tee play is cause for concern.
Tour Championship picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Sungjae Im (-130, Round 1 matchup) over Tony Finau (DraftKings) — Tony is struggling big time, finishing barely in the top 40 last week, whereas Sungjae is on a heater.
Mayo: Sungjae Im (-120, with starting strokes) over Corey Conners (DraftKings) — I love Sungjae this week, and Conners may have the worst resume at East Lake over the past few years of anyone in the field.
Gdula: Si Woo Kim (-120, Round 1 matchup) over Sepp Straka (FanDuel) — Kim is a great course fit for East Lake, and grades out as the much better ball-striker. He just doesn’t putt as well.
Gehman: Corey Conners (-110, without starting strokes) over Tony Finau (Bet365) — I don’t mind picking on Finau who has struggled for the past few months, earning just one top-10 finish in his last 10 events. He continues to lose multiple strokes on the greens nearly every time he tees it up. Conners, on the other hand, has been trending in the right direction finishing inside the top 10 in both playoff events. His game is sharp and his ability to play out of the short grass should help him at East Lake.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (-115, Round 1 matchup) over Scottie Scheffler (FanDuel) — McIlroy’s East Lake record is out of this world, and he’s gaining nearly three strokes per round over his past 36 rounds, distancing himself from Scheffler at this point ball-striking wise. Rory should be in attack mode early trailing Scheffler, too, so I really like this one.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rickie Fowler (+100, with starting strokes) over Tommy Fleetwood (DraftKings) — These two are both starting at three under, so we’re all even here. They both tied for 25th last week but it was Fowler who striped his irons while Fleetwood’s went cold.
Lack: Tommy Fleetwood (-120, with starting strokes) over Rickie Fowler (DraftKings) — This feels like the perfect situation for Tommy Fleetwood. He’s too far back to have a legitimate chance of winning, but he still possesses some of the most upside in the field based on the rate that he gains over three strokes per round to the field compared to his peers. I love this course fit for him as well, as the Englishman has a sterling resume on Bermudagrass greens and is one of the more accurate drivers of the ball in this field. Fowler, on the other hand, with his Ryder Cup bid all but secured, folded like a cheap suit over the weekend down the stretch at Olympia Fields, and has yet to finish top 20 since his win in Detroit. In what could be a preview of what’s to come in Rome, I expect Fleetwood to roll.
Matchup Results from the BMW Championship: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Henley (-125) over Clark); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Clark (-110) over Day); Mayo: PUSH (Fleetwood (-120) over Morikawa); Powers: 0 for 1; Lack: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Powers: 23-17-2 (up 5.81 units); Gehman: 23-17-2 (up 4 units); Lack: 18-13-1 (up 2.83 units); Caddie: 21-17-4 (up 2.65 units); Hennessey: 22-18-2 (up 2.62 units); Mayo: 16-21-2 (down 5.49 units); Gdula: 17-24-2 (down 8.32 units)
Tour Championship picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Xander Schauffele (-115, with starting strokes, DraftKings) — If there’s one player I trust as much as Rory here at East Lake, it’s Xander.
Mayo: Si Woo Kim (+330, with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Accuracy has been off the charts in 2023 for Si Woo, and if you see Pete Dye or Donald Ross under “Course Designer” you know he’s live to be on the leaderboard come Sunday.
Gdula: Russell Henley (+160, with starting strokes, FanDuel) — Henley has the accuracy and irons to play well at East Lake, and he’s already starting at three under. The model shows value on Henley to inch his way up the leaderboard this week.
Gehman: Russell Henley (+160, with starting strokes, FanDuel) — Henley has piled up three straight top-10 finishes and has gained strokes to the field in eight of his last 10 starts. He’s only played the Tour Championship twice and those date back to 2014 and 2017, but he’s gained 11.57 strokes to the field in those eight events.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Russell Henley (+160, with starting strokes, FanDuel) — I’ll add to Rick’s reasoning above that Henley is third in Fairways Gained and sixth in Good Drives Gained on Fantasy National, which should produce some great opportunities with his red-hot irons.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (+500, with starting strokes, DraftKings) — He’s starting at even par so he’s got a lot of work to do, but might only take one really low one to leapfrog a bunch of guys and find yourself hovering around the top 10 this week.
Lack: Sungjae Im (+230, with starting strokes, DraftKings) — Sungjae Im remains one of the five players in this field to qualify for East Lake in each of the past four seasons, and with a runner-up finish last year, he’s really starting to get acquainted with the Atlanta staple. Sungjae always seems to heat up at this time of year, and his five top 25s at the Donald Ross-designed Sedgefield, which features similar agronomy and also places an emphasis on finding the fairway, should be translatable to further high end finishes at East Lake. Coming off a seventh at the BMW, I expect Sungjae to continue his playoff success in Atlanta.
Top-10 results from the BMW Championship: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Max Homa +200); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Viktor Hovland +145); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 13 for 42 (up 23.6 units); Gdula: 10 for 42 (up 4.8 units); Hennessey: 8 for 42 (up 3.40 units); Lack: 8 for 32 (up 0.4 units); Mayo: 8 for 39 (down 3.9 units); Caddie: 9 for 42 (down 4.1 units); Powers: 5 for 42 (down 6.4 units)
Tour Championship picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Wyndham Clark — If your one and done continues into the Tour Championship, you should be firing up the best available player that you have remaining. For me, that’s Wyndham Clark. I’m not thrilled about this, but Clark showed a little positive play last week in Chicago, finishing T-15 and hopefully ending a short slump.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa. Zurich: Kurt Kitayama. Mexico Open: Ben Martin. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: K.H. Lee. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele. Charles Schwab Challenge: Min Woo Lee. Memorial: Patrick Cantlay. RBC Canadian Open: Tyrrell Hatton. U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka. Travelers: Tony Finau. Rocket Mortgage: Cameron Davis. John Deere: Denny McCarthy. Scottish: Matt Fitzpatrick. Open: Dustin Johnson. 3M: Emiliano Grillo. Wyndham: Si Woo Kim. FedEx St. Jude: Max Homa. BMW: Lucas Glover.
Hennessey: Keegan Bradley — I believe I’ve used every other player above Keegan on the odds board, which is a reason why OAD leagues should never include the Tour Championship.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth. Zurich: Sahith Theegala. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Xander Schauffele. Byron Nelson: Tyrrell Hatton. PGA Championship: Jon Rahm. Charles Schwab Challenge: Justin Rose. Memorial: Corey Conners. RBC Canadian Open: Tommy Fleetwood. U.S. Open: Max Homa. Travelers: Tom Kim. Rocket Mortgage: Rickie Fowler. John Deere: Adam Schenk. Scottish: Min Woo Lee. Open: Brooks Koepka. 3M: Cameron Young. Wyndham: Russell Henley. FedEx St. Jude: Wyndham Clark. BMW: Lucas Glover.
Powers: Scottie Scheffler — Boy, I really am a dope for not using Scheffler yet.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler. Zurich: Robby Shelton. Mexico Open: Luke List. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: Tom Hoge. PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka. Charles Schwab Challenge: Tommy Fleetwood. Memorial: Shane Lowry. RBC Canadian Open: Justin Rose. U.S. Open: Dustin Johnson. Travelers: Tom Kim. Rocket Mortgage: Ludvig Aberg. John Deere: Denny McCarthy. Scottish: Adam Scott. Open: Rory McIlroy. 3M: Sepp Straka. Wyndham: Aaron Rai. FedEx St. Jude: Sam Burns. BMW: Jordan Spieth.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
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. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports