Tiger Woods is in the hunt at the 2018 Tour Championship after Round 1, but what does he need to happen to win the FedEx Cup?
The 2018 Tour Championship from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta is the final stop in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. As such, the golfers in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings have a simple scenario before them in the tournament: If they win, they take home the trophy for the 2018 season. Tiger Woods, however, was not in the top five entering the tournament.
Instead, Woods entered the Tour Championship, which teed off on Thursday, Sept. 20, ranked 20th in the standings, moving up to that position with a sixth-place showing at the BMW Championship in the previous PGA Tour event. Thus, his path to winning the FedEx Cup is a bit more complex than if he were in the top five.
Having said that, by qualifying to play at the Tour Championship, which only the top 30 in the standings earn the right to do, Tiger still has a chance at hoisting the trophy that he has twice before in his career. So then, what does Tiger Woods need to happen at East Lake for him to be atop the standings come Sunday?
As you’d expect, the scenario that leads to Woods winning the FedEx Cup begins with him winning at the Tour Championship. If that doesn’t happen, then there’s no chance of him winning. Of course, it’s going to take much more than that from things outside of his control for him to capture the $10 million prize (h/t to Golf Digest).
What else Tiger needs to happen ultimately comes down to what the top six players in the standings do at East Lake. Starting at the bottom end of that, Woods needs sixth-ranked Keegan Bradley to finished tied for second or worst. Next, he would need Nos. 4 and 5, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, to finish in a three-way tie for second or worse.
Then things continue to get tricky for the scenario as Woods needs third-ranked Tony Finau to finish tied for third or worse. Continuing on, Tiger would then need Justin Rose, sitting at second in the standings entering the tournament, to finish in a three-way tie for fifth place or worse. And finally, Woods would need the leader in the standings entering the week, Bryson DeChambeau to finish tied for 15th or worse.
It suffices to say that Woods’ chances of winning the FedEx Cup are no better than a longshot, or so it would seem. However, with how the first round transpired through Tiger’s opening 18 holes, it’s certainly in the cards.
When Woods went into the clubhouse, he had posted a 5-under after an eagle to close his round, good enough to tie him for the lead with Rickie Fowler. Just as important, all but one of the criteria that would need to happen for Tiger to win the FedEx Cup was happening as he finished his round. That one outlier being Justin Rose sitting tied for fourth at the time Woods holed his putt at the 18th.
So, though he needs a lot of help and has to overtake the lead, the pathway for Woods to actually make this wild scenario happen appears to be plausible after the first round. Of course, with 54 holes to play, that still leaves a lot that could happen ahead. And again, Woods still has to win at East Lake — which would be his first win since 2013 — for anything else that happens from the other players in the field to matter.
Regardless of if Tiger Woods wins the FedEx Cup or not, his comeback in the 2018 season has gone better than many could’ve ever imagined for him with six top-10 finishes coming into the Tour Championship. Even still, wouldn’t it be vintage Tiger to make the semi-unthinkable happen to cap off his and the PGA Tour’s 2018 season?