Chasing pack with much to do at East Lake

The season-ending Tour Championship starts on Thursday, with just 30 players remaining for the FedEx Cup’s finale.

In a new format for the 2019 edition, the field will start the East Lake event under a handicap system, with the leading player on the points list – Justin Thomas – beginning the tournament on 10-under par (Thomas 2/1 fav Outright Betting).

Those below him then follow in order, with Patrick Cantlay (9/2) starting on -8, Brooks Koepka (11/2) on -7 while Patrick Reed (16/1) will tee off on Thursday with a score of -6 next to his name.

Rory McIlroy (8/1) begins on -5, with five players – Jon Rahm (14/1), Matt Kuchar (40/1), Xander Schauffele (25/1), Webb Simpson (22/1) and Abraham Ancer (70/1) – starting on four-under.

That quintet will need to find six shots on the leader if they are to scoop the $15m prize fund for the overall FedEx Cup champion.

Of those on -4, Spain’s Rahm looks the best equipped to challenge for the title as he enters Atlanta in superb form.

Ranked sixth in the world, the Spaniard has only once been out of the top-seven in his last seven starts and has the class to mount a challenge over 72 holes.

Kuchar has one win this season and six other top-10s but his form has dipped in recent weeks and it seems unlikely he will make a run for the number one spot.

However, the riches on offer will always be in the forefront of the veteran’s mind.

Schauffele has enjoyed another solid campaign to reach 11th in the rankings with a win and three top-10s.

The 25-year-old is consistent in finishing in the top-20 and that may be the limit of his ambitions this week.

Simpson is now up to 14th in the standings after a resurgence in his career and he may have the tools to bridge the gap to the high-flyers.

Back-to-back second place finishes at the WGC – FedEx St Jude Invitational and Wyndham Championship saw him shoot up the FedEx points list and, if his putter works, it would be no surprise to see the American there or thereabouts on Sunday.

Mexico’s Ancer completes the five on -4 and will hope to replicate the form that saw him finish runner-up at the Northern Trust.

However, just two top-10s all season means he is likely to finish off the pace.

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