September 18, 2018 / 10:56 PM / 8 months ago

Golf-DeChambeau the man to beat at season-ending Tour Championship

Sept 18 (Reuters) - Bryson DeChambeau is in the driver’s seat heading into this week’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta where FedExCup honours — and the $10 million bonus that goes with it — are also on the line for the 30 competitors.

Every player in the elite field has a mathematical chance of claiming both titles but only DeChambeau and four others would be guaranteed the overall prize by winning the Tour Championship.

That quintet comprises top-ranked DeChambeau, who leads the FedExCup standings after winning the first two playoff events, followed by world number one Justin Rose, Tony Finau, Dustin Johnson and defending FedExCup champion Justin Thomas.

Nobody in the field, however, has as favourable a scenario as DeChambeau since the 25-year-old American can finish as low as 29th place and still possibly bag the top prize.

DeChambeau will be aiming to become the first top seed going into the East Lake event to win the FedExCup since Tiger Woods in 2009.

If he fails, he would stand alongside Rory McIlroy (2012) and Jason Day (2015) as winners of two of the first three playoffs events without taking the big prize.

Englishman Rose is considered one of the favourites as he is coming off a pair of runner-up finishes, while Finau has been consistent all season and was recently selected for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Thomas, who will be aiming to become the first player to successfully defend his FedExCup title, tweaked his wrist during the final round of the BMW Championship nine days ago.

A three-times winner this season, Thomas worked only on his short game during the week off following his share of 12th place at the season’s penultimate event.

“I’d never had an injury before,” said Thomas, whose wrist was wrapped in medical tape at his pre-tournament news conference. “It just kind of popped up, and yeah, I took last week off, didn’t hit a ball. I chipped and putted a lot, so my short game feels pretty good.

“But in all honesty, this time of year, it’s nice to take time off. You’re better off being mentally fresh than you are, I would say, having my game physically fresh.”

The tournament, which begins on Thursday, also represents one final chance for former world number one Woods to close his comeback season with a win.

Woods can become the FedExCup’s first three-time champion, having won previously in 2007 and 2009, but he will need a win at East Lake, DeChambeau to finish with no better than a share of 15th — and still rely on help from others. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris, Neville Dalton)

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