The Tour Championship gets under way on Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta with a new format for the finale of the FedEx Cup season.
This year, the final leaderboard also represents the final FedEx Cup standings for the world’s top 30 players.
There will also be an unprecedented staggered start to the tournament to reward players for their performances over the past two FedEx Cup events – meaning the top-ranked player Justin Thomas starts on -10.
McIlroy will start five shots behind Thomas and it remains to be seen how these staggered starts will impact on their respective performances.
In McIlroy’s case he can be a player who relishes being up against it and, at 8/1, the Northern Irishman appeals going into the event.
The 30-year-old, who won the Players Championship this year, has struggled at the major events by his standards and missed the cut at The Open after a disastrous opening round.
However, he managed a seven-under second round at Royal Portrush as he desperately tried to make the weekend despite a big deficit, and that experience may stand him in good stead as he starts the Tour Championship five shots off the pace.
McIlroy has put in competitive displays in the St Jude, The Northern Trust and the BMW Championship since his Open meltdown and looks to have found some form going into the finale – and the fact the pressure is off to an extent may well work in his favour.
For the 15 players who start on two-under or worse, winning this event looks to be too big of an ask.
American Schauffele will start on -4 and that could still be enough to see him out of contention – particularly if Thomas, Patrick Cantlay (-8) and/or Brooks Koepka (-7) get off to blistering starts – but at 22/1 he could be worth an each way bet, which pays out for a top-four finish.
The 25-year-old has had a strong season, claiming the Sentry Tournament of Champions and finishing in the top three in two majors, and goes into this event after a solid, if uninspiring, performance at the BMW Championship.
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