Planet Golf — 18 September 2017 by GW staff and news services
FedEx Cup in own hands of 5 players

ATLANTA — Just five players — Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Marc Leishman and Jon Rahm — control their own fate entering the TOUR Championship, the final event of the FedExCup Playoffs that will decide the 2016-17 FedExCup champion.

Should any one of those five players in the FedExCup standings win at East Lake, he will be guaranteed the FedExCup title.

Players inside the top five could still win the FedExCup but would need certain scenarios to fall into place. Based on recent history, the TOUR Championship winner will also be the FedExCup champ, which has been the case every year since 2010.

Here’s a quick look at each player inside the top five going into Thursday’s first round at East Lake.

1. JORDAN SPIETH

THE SET-UP: Spieth won the FedExCup title two years ago from the No. 2 spot. Now he’s seeking to become the first No. 1 seed since Tiger Woods in 2007 to win the TOUR Championship. Tiger also won the 2009 FedExCup title from the No. 1 spot but didn’t win at East Lake. If Spieth wins, he’ll join Tiger as the only two-time FedExCup champs.

PATH TO EAST LAKE: Lost in a playoff to Dustin Johnson at THE NORTHERN TRUST … Finished solo second by three strokes to Justin Thomas at the Dell Technologies Championship … Tied for seventh at the BMW Championship.

TAKING SIMILAR PATH AS … 2009 winner Tiger Woods. No FedExCup champ has ever finished top 10 in all four events of his winning year, but Woods came the closest with a T2, a T11 and a win before claiming the FedExCup title with a second-place finish to Phil Mickelson at East Lake. Of course, Spieth hasn’t won a Playoffs event yet, but his consistency has kept him atop the standings. Spieth has the best chance to finish second and still win the FedExCup — provided none of the other top-5 players win. If he does so, he would become the first FedExCup champ to win the title without winning a Playoffs event.

HISTORY AT EAST LAKE
2016 … Tie for 17th. Shot 68-72-72-68 to finish at even-par 280.
2015 … Won. Shot 68-66-68-69 to finish at 9-under 271
2014 … Tied for 27th. Shot 71-70-80-71 to finish at 12-over 292.
2013 … Tied for 2nd. Shot 68-67-71-64 to finish at 10-under 270.

IF HE DOESN’T WIN AT EAST LAKE … Spieth has a reasonable chance of winning the FedExCup title with a top-5 finish and can still finish as low as 29th and have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup.

PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES
2016 … 9th
2015 … 1st
2014 … 15th
2013 … 7th

2. JUSTIN THOMAS

THE SET-UP: No player has won more this season than Thomas, who has five vctories, including his first major at the PGA Championship, and then the Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. Now he’s seeking to put his name on the same FedExCup trophy as good friend and rival Jordan Spieth.

PATH TO EAST LAKE: Tied for sixth at THE NORTHERN TRUST … Won by three strokes at the Dell Technologies Championship … Tied for 47th at the BMW Championship.

TAKING SIMILAR PATH AS … 2012 winner Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker posted a solo second and a solo sixth in the first two Playoffs events, then was a non-contender at the BMW Championship. Thomas has two impressive showings (including the win at TPC Boston) but was a non-factor at Conway Farms. Snedeker regained the momentum at East Lake; Thomas hopes to do the same.

HISTORY AT EAST LAKE
2016 … Tie for 6th. Shot 68-71-69-67 to finish at 5-under 275.

IF HE DOESN’T WIN AT EAST LAKE … Thomas has a reasonable chance of winning the FedExCup title with a top-3 finish and can finish as low as a two-way tie for sixth and still have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup.

PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES
2016 … 12th
2015 … 32nd

3. DUSTIN JOHNSON

THE SET-UP: He came so close to winning the FedExCup title last year. Had Ryan Moore or Kevin Chappell won the sudden-death playoff against Rory McIlroy, DJ would’ve claimed the FedExCup. It was a cruel lesson on the importance of taking care of your own business — a lesson Johnson hopes to implement this week.

PATH TO EAST LAKE: Won a sudden-death playoff against Jordan Spieth at THE NORTHERN TRUST … Tied for 18th at the Dell Technologies Championship … Tied for 33rd at the BMW Championship.

TAKING SIMILAR PATH AS … 2016 winner Rory McIlroy. A year ago, McIlroy sandwiched a win at TPC Boston between a couple of so-so results, but he found the winning path again at East Lake. Johnson looked ready to streak through the Playoffs after his Glen Oaks win but surprisingly hasn’t been late Sunday contender since then.

HISTORY AT EAST LAKE
2016 … Tie for 6th. Shot 66-67-69-73 to finish at 5-under 275.
2015 … Tie for 5th. Shot 69-72-71-64 to finish at 4-under 276.
2013 … 5th. Shot 68-68-67-69 to finish at 8-under 272.
2012 … Tie for 10th. Shot 69-67-73-70 to finish at 1-under 279.
2011 … Tie for 23rd. Shot 70-73-70-70 to finish at 3-over 283.
2010 … Tie for 22nd. Shot 73-71-73-66 to finish at 3-over 283.
2009 … 27th. Shot 69-74-73-73 to finish at 9-over 289.

Note: Johnson also qualified for the 2014 TOUR Championship but did not play.

IF HE DOESN’T WIN AT EAST LAKE … Johnson has a reasonable chance of winning the FedExCup with a second-place finish and can finish as low as a tie for fourth and still have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup.

PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES
2016 … 2nd
2015 … 7th
2014 … 30th
2013 … 13th
2012 … 8th
2011 … 4th
2010 … 5th
2009 … 14th
2008 … 134th

4. MARC LEISHMAN

THE SET-UP: Besides Leishman, his family and friends, and all of Australia, you know who else is very happy right now? It’s International Captain Nick Price, who no doubt will lean heavily on the red-hot Australian at next week’s Presidents Cup. But until then, Leishman is position to produce his biggest individual achievement — and no one has played better in the last two Playoffs events. Can he keep it going in his first appearance at East Lake since 2009?

PATH TO EAST LAKE: Missed the cut at THE NORTHERN TRUST … Tied for third at the Dell Technologies Championship … Went wire-to-wire to win the BMW Championship.

TAKING SIMILAR PATH AS … 2014 winner Billy Horschel. Horschel missed the cut in his first Playoffs start, nearly won at TPC Boston, did win the BMW and kept it going at East Lake. Leishman was the 54-hole co-leader at TPC Boston before a disappointing final round, but focused on the positives and won at Conway Farms. If he continues to follow Horschel’s path, he’ll be hoisting two more trophies on Sunday.

HISTORY AT EAST LAKE
2009 … Tie for 28th. Shot 70-74-70-78 to finish at 12-over 292.

IF HE DOESN’T WIN AT EAST LAKE … Leishman has a reasonable chance of winning the FedExCup title with a second-place finish and can finish as low as tied for third and still have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup.

PREVIOUS FEDEXCUP FINISHES
2016 … 68th
2015 … 72nd
2014 … 58th
2013 … 59th
2012 … 46th
2011 … 65th
2010 … 44th
2009 … 20th
2015 … 32nd

5. JON RAHM

THE SET-UP: Making his first FedExCup Playoffs appearance, Rahm has been impressively consistent, with top-5 finishes in each of his three starts. Still, he had to sweat out a potential birdie bid by Rickie Fowler on the 72nd hole at Conway Farms that would have knocked Rahm out of the top five (Fowler ultimately settled for par). No one will be surprised if he emerges as the FedExCup champ.

PATH TO EAST LAKE: Tied for third at THE NORTHERN TRUST … Tied for fourth at the Dell Technologies Championship … Tied for fifth at the BMW Championship.

TAKING SIMILAR PATH AS … 2009 winner Tiger Woods. Like Spieth above, Rahm has played well in every start without a win. In his 12 rounds in the Playoffs, Rahm is a collective 36 under, with 11 of those rounds in the 60s. His scenarios to win the FedExCup without winning at East Lake are not as favorable as Spieth’s, so Rahm will likely need to post his second win of the season to secure the FedExCup.

HISTORY AT EAST LAKE
First appearance

IF HE DOESN’T WIN AT EAST LAKE … Rahm can finish as low as a two-way tie for second and still have a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup.ATLANA

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