This week we travel to Atlanta, Georgia to East Lake Golf Club, which has hosted the Tour Championship each year since 2004. We will have plenty of data to identify golfers that fit the course this week. The top 30 in the FedEx Cup Rankings will compete for the top prize of $10 million in this no cut event that is the climax of the PGA season.
This 7,346 yard Par 70 has four Par 3s, 12 Par 4s, and two Par 5s. Hole six, the Par 5, is a scoring hole and tends to average birdie, while the other Par 5 can also be had, as it is possible to reach in two. There are Par 4s of 391(hole 3) and 389(hole 12) yards that are nearly drivable, but the angle at the pin is blocked by bunkers on both so most people will play a short wedge up onto the green, but I expect a ton of birds on these holes.
The transition from bentgrass to MiniVerde UltraDwarf bermudagrass greens was made after 2007. This grass is extremely fast but does provide the truest lines of all bermudagrass. The sheer speed of the greens will separate the good from bad putters more than usual. The rough is bermuda and can cause some problems for golfers deep in it, as it can be very thick. Water comes into play on five of the holes, and bunkers are midway up most fairways and protect the greens relentlessly.
The course looks difficult from the satellite, with some tight fairways needing accuracy off the tee where even if you are in the fairway; if you aren’t on the correct side, you may have a difficult approach shot.
The weather looks awesome this week with no wind or rain concerns. As always, check the weather again close to lock.
|2016 Rory McIlroy -12||9||306.8||77||61.06||2||1.888||1||1.23||31||0.447||33||413||36||0.211||135||-0.207||2||25.27||46||15.5|
|2015 Jordan Spieth -9||78||291.8||80||62.91||4||1.583||15||0.494||11||0.618||26||404||7||0.471||9||0.571||2||25.69||3||13.3|
|2014 Billy Horschel -11||76||291.6||23||67.04||47||0.518||20||0.473||83||0.132||118||436||130||-0.087||54||0.22||44||20.8||44||15.86|
|2013 Henrik Stenson -13||66||290.9||7||70.09||3||1.614||3||0.776||6||0.776||129||430||59||0.128||98||0.004||19||21.7||8||14.58|
|2012 Brandt Snedeker -10||110||288.7||109||60.5||98||0.15||160||-0.276||89||0.11||74||425||15||0.316||1||0.86||4||22.65||20||15.67|
As we look at the averages of the last five winners at East Lake, we see driving distance and accuracy weighted similarly like last week. The strongest trait we see among champions is elite strokes gained tee-to-green numbers, followed by strokes gained off-the-tee, strokes gained approach, and then strokes gained around-the-green.
Something we don’t typically see is how highly strokes gained putting correlates among the champions. You will likely need to be able to putt to succeed here, as we see three of the last five champions have been in the top 60 in putting that year. This may have to do with the very difficult greens they have switched to. You must be able to score and avoid bogeys as we see all five of the past champs in the top 50 of birdie or better percentage, and bogey avoidance as well. To take down the big one this week we need a complete golfer with no holes in their game.