The PGA Tour Championship begins this weekend at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta as it marks the end to an unprecedented season.
The COVID-19 shutdown brought three months without golf and the schedule was changing constantly once the PGA committee announced it was safe to continue the season.
Since June, almost 25 tournaments were either postponed or canceled for the rest of the 2019-2020 season and four tournaments have been postponed or canceled for the 2020-2021 season, which includes the U.S. Open that will take place in three weeks.
The Tour Championship marks the end to the three-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs with the winner being announced at the conclusion of the tournament.
In addition, the Tour Championship tournament features the game’s best 30 golfers from the 2019-2020 season.
Third-year Tour player and former SDSU men’s golfer Xander Schauffele, who is No. 11 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is dead smack in the middle heading into this weekend.
He is currently in 14th place and 2,022 points back of Dustin Johnson for the top spot of the FedEx Cup Standings.
With the new scoring system put in place in 2019, Schauffele will enter the first round at -3.
It may seem that Schauffele has a slim chance to win with Johnson starting at -10, the winner of the tournament is also the winner of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. However, being down seven shots to start the tournament is still plausible to win.
Last year, Schauffele started the tournament at -4 and finished second at -14, only four shots back behind current No. 4 golfer in the world, Rory McIlory, who won the tournament. McIlroy started at -5 that year.
In three appearances, Schauffele has seen success playing at the East Lake Golf Course, just 20 minutes east of downtown Atlanta.
Schauffele’s lowest finish is seventh in this tournament, but he was able to win the entire tournament in his first try, en route to winning PGA Rookie of the Year honors in 2017.
Furthermore, the San Diegan averages 67.88 strokes, which is third-best on the East Lake Golf Course.
To put the icing on the cake regarding Schauffele’s success, he became the third golfer in 20 years to get a hole-in-one in a Tour Championship last year (it actually happened twice). Before Schauffele, the last time an ace was recorded in the tournament was in 2002.
Schauffele has six top-10 finishes this season, but if the former Aztec wants to win for the second time in four years in Atlanta, he has to remember the basics: hit fairways, make greens in regulation but most importantly, make short putts. In the final round of the BMW Championship this past weekend, he did not miss a putt from within 10 feet.