The 11 best ways the Tour Championship could end (and how every player can win the FedEx Cup)

The 11 best ways the Tour Championship could end (and how every player can win the FedEx Cup)

No doubt you’re sick of endless chatter about the FedEx Cup Playoffs, its formula, standings and projections.

And who could blame you? It’s confusing. Last year, for example, Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship while Justin Thomas won the FedEx Cup. Two winners! So while Tuesday’s announcement on the changes coming to the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup might rid some of the confusion (even though not everyone is a fan), what still remains is the quest for this year’s $10 million bonus in what will now be the final year with the current format.

Sure, there still could be two champions come Sunday night at East Lake (a major reason the new format was created is to avoid this), but regardless there are several intriguing storylines and plentiful FedEx Cup scenarios to boot.

So which ending would reign supreme? And how exactly can your favorite golfer, least-favorite golfer, or golfer you staked your next paycheck on win the grand prize of the FedEx Cup? Our friends at the PGA Tour broke down the scenarios, so without further ado, here are the best possible outcomes (in one writer’s mind) as well as each player’s specific route to FedEx Cup stardom. (Be warned: some routes easier than others.)

1. Tiger triumphs in Sunday red

Is it even necessary to elaborate? No one thought he would be even playing in this event at this time last year, yet here he is, every week showing flashes that prove win No. 80 isn’t too far away. A refreshed Woods starting the 2018-19 season just two wins shy of tying Sam Snead’s record of 82? Let’s go.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Can you imagine Woods winning the Tour Championship as the stars align and he hoists the FedEx Cup trophy as well? Hey, crazier things have happened. For that scenario to play out, Woods would need to win the Tour Championship and then have Bryson DeChambeau (Woods’s future Ryder Cup partner?) finish T15 or worse, Justin Rose finish in a three-way tie for 5th or worse, Tony Finau T3 or worse, Keegan Bradley T2 or worse and Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. Don’t hold your breath.

2. DeChambeau completes the hat trick

He still doesn’t get the credit he deserves simply due to the way he does things or how he articulates them. But if he were to win three of the four playoff events it would be nothing short of epic.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Win the Tour Championship! He leads the standings thus far. He can also finish as low as 9th and still have a shot of winning the $10 mil.

3. Phil the Thrill

Because the Ryder Cup is next week and having Phil fly into Paris coming off a big W is something we would all gladly sign up for.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Mickelson, who has never won the FedEx Cup, will get his first if he wins the Tour Championship, but he needs plenty of help. DeChambeau would have to finish T8 or worse, Rose T4 or worse, Finau 3rd or worse and Johnson and Thomas T2 or worse.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson won in Mexico earlier this season. Can he claim his second win of the year in Atlanta?

4. I’m Brooks. Remember me?

Brooks Koepka plays best on the big stage: three major championships vs. one other PGA Tour win. He wants more respect, and here’s another chance to garner some. A victory also lifts him to World No. 1.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Koepka needs to win and have DeChambeau finish in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse and Rose T2 or worse.

5. Rory beefs up his resume

Ah, yes, Rory. He already has one FedEx Cup title to his name, but he’ll need a lot of help to make it two, even if he wins the Tour Championship. He won at Bay Hill earlier this year but hasn’t closed the door as much as he’s used to. A win going into the Ryder Cup would make this match play assassin all the more terrifying in France.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: McIlroy, the 2016 FedEx Cup champ, can win his second in three years if he hoists the Tour Championship trophy, just as long as DeChambeau drops out of the top 10 (T11 or worse), Rose finishes in a three-way tie for 4th or worse, Finau T3 or worse and Johnson in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. But that’s not all! Thomas and Bradley need to finish T2 or worse as well.

6. Rose gold

Rose’s first opportunity to play as the World No. 1 didn’t go very well — he bogeyed the first playoff hole and lost the BMW Championship to Bradley. But a win here would cement his name atop the World Ranking and leave little doubt.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Win the Tour Championship! Same as DeChambeau, Rose can finish as low as 9th and still have a shot of winning the Cup.

7. Finau!/Keegan!

The darlings of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Finau’s stellar play earned him the final Ryder Cup captain’s pick, while Keegs busted out of the slump two weeks ago.

How they can win the FedEx Cup: Finau needs to win the Tour Championship and can finish as low as a tie for third and still have a decent chance. Bradley needs to win and hope DeChambeau doesn’t finish solo 2nd.

Tony Finau has vaulted himself into contention for the $10 million bonus even though he has just one career PGA Tour victory.

Tony Finau has vaulted himself into contention for the $10 million bonus even though he has just one career PGA Tour victory.

8. Fowler power

When will Rickie Fowler start winning more? It’s asked a lot, and taking the Tour Championship title would be a good step in the right direction (and the second biggest win of his career, only behind the Players).

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Fowler, who is making just his second start of the playoffs (he missed the first two events due to injury) will need to win and have DeChambeau finish in a three-way tie for 19th or worse. He also needs Rose to finish T6 or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

9. DJ back on top

Dustin Johnson, the old No. 1 becomes No. 1 yet again.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Win the Tour Championship! A three-way tie for 2nd might also be good enough.

10. Reed rises

If Patrick Reed enters the Ryder Cup coming off a victory, he might have enough momentum to beat the Europeans by himself.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: The Masters champ is also your FedEx Cup champ if he wins at East Lake and DeChambeau finishes T9 or worse, Rose T4 or worse, Finau 3rd or worse and Johnson, Thomas and Bradley all T2 or worse.

11. JT stays hot

A four-win season to follow Thomas’s five-win 2016-17? Bravo. A win would also give him the top spot in the World Ranking.

How he can win the FedEx Cup: Win the Tour Championship! A solo 2nd might also be good enough.

 

18 OTHER FEDEX CUP SCENARIOS

THE CONTENDERS

Bubba Watson: Watson cashes in if he wins the Tour Championship and DeChambeau finishes 3rd or worse and Rose T2 or worse.

Billy Horschel: He’ll need to win and have DeChambeau drop to a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Rose to a three-way tie for 2nd or worse and Finau to place T2 or worse.

 

THE LONG SHOTS

Cameron Smith: Seriously, did you know he was 10th(!) in the standings? Smith needs to win and then have DeChambeau drop to a three-way tie for 4th or worse. And that’s just the start. Rose will need to be T3 or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse, Johnson T2 or worse and Thomas 2nd or worse. And if that happens, Smith and Thomas would actually tie for the Cup. Now that would be anticlimactic.

Webb Simpson: Simpson needs to win and have DeChambeau fall to T6 or worse, Rose in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse and Finau in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. Then DJ and Thomas need to both finish T2 or worse.

Jason Day: Day needs to win and have Johnson and Thomas finish T2 or worse and have DeChambeau in a three-way tie for 6th or worse, Rose 4th or worse and Finau in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

Franceso Molinari: The Champion Golfer of the Year needs to win and get a T7 or worse from DeChambeau, 4th or worse from Rose, 3rd or worse from Finau and T2s or worse from Thomas and Johnson.

Patrick Cantlay: Cantlay needs to win and have DeChambeau drop to T10 or worse, Rose to T4 or worse, Finau to 3rd or worse and Johnson, Thomas and Bradley T2 or worse.

Cantlay has a shot to win the FedEx Cup, but it won't be easy.

Cantlay has a shot to win the FedEx Cup, but it won’t be easy.

THE LONG(ER) SHOTS

Xander Schauffele: Last year’s Tour Championship victor needs to first defend that trophy to have a shot at the $10 million. He then needs to have DeChambeau finish T12 or worse, Rose 5th or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

Tommy Fleetwood: Fleetwood needs to win and have DeChambeau finish in a three-way tie for 13th or worse, Rose T5 or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

 

SO YOU ARE SAYING THERE’S A CHANCE

Aaron Wise: Wise will be your FedEx Cup champ if he wins and sees DeChambeau finish in a three-way tie for 16th or worse. He’ll also need Rose to finish in a three-way tie for 5th or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

Kevin Na: Na will need to win coupled with a DeChambeau T18 or worse finish. He’ll also need Rose to finish T6 or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

Jon Rahm: The Spaniard wins the FedEx Cup if he wins the Tour Championship and DeChambeau falls to T21 or worse. He also needs Rose to finish in a three-way tie for 6th or worse, Finau T3 or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. If that all happens he’ll split the Cup with Finau.

Kyle Stanley: Stanley had a sneaky solid season on Tour with two runner-ups and five top 10s. But to win the FedEx Cup he’ll need to win the Tour Championship, have DeChambeau finish T22 or worse, Rose 7th or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Bradley T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse.

Paul Casey: The Valspar champ will also be the FedEx Cup champ if he wins at East Lake and sees DeChambeau drop down to a three-way tie for 23rd or worse. He’ll then need Rose to finish T7 or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse and Bradley and Koepka T2 or worse.

 

NOW IT’S STARTING TO GET FAR FETCHED

Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama, who has dropped all the way down to 20th in the World Ranking, will need to win at East Lake and have DeChambeau finish 25th or worse (remember, there are only 30 players). Then the dominos will have to continue to fall. He’ll need Rose to finish in a three-way tie for 7th or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Bradley and Koepka T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. This magic scenario would allow Matsuyama to share the FedEx Cup crown with DeChambeau.

Gary Woodland: To grab his first Cup Woodland has to win the Tour Championship, have DeChambeau finish T26 or worse, Rose T8 or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Bradley and Koepka T2 or worse and Johnson and Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse. This would give Woodland and DeChambeau a share of the Cup.

Marc Leishman: The Australian wins the FedEx Cup if he wins on Sunday and sees DeChambeau fall to 28th or worse. Rose would then need to finish in a three-way tie for 8th or worse, Finau in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Johnson 3rd or worse, Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse and Bradley and Koepka T2 or worse.

Patton Kizzire: Last man in! While he may have the most difficult path to $10 million, it is a path nonetheless. Kizzire needs to win and have DeChambeau finish in a tie for 29th or worse (good luck) and Rose T9 or worse. If all that happens, he still needs Finau to be in a three-way tie for 3rd or worse, Johnson 3rd or worse, Thomas in a three-way tie for 2nd or worse and Bradley and Koepka T2 or worse.