Since only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings qualify for the TOUR Championship, the first two rounds will be played in pairs instead of threesomes. That will definitely add a different dynamic to the first two rounds and it will be interesting to see how the players adjust. It shouldn’t be too big of an issue considering that they are used to playing the final two rounds of most events in pairs, but pro athletes are often creatures of habit and small changes can mess with their psyche. Following are some of the featured pairings for the first round at East Lake. All golfers will tee off from the first tee and will do so in the reverse order of the standings. The pairings will be reset after every round.
Tiger Woods (1) and Henrik Stenson swapped positions in the standings after the BMW Championship. Woods is a serious contender for Player of the Year thanks to his five PGA Tour victories in 2013. Stenson was on a tear for about two months but cooled off a bit after his win at the Deutsche Bank. It came out this week that he’s been battling tendinitis in his wrist, so it will be interesting to see what impact that has on his performance this week. (Thursday 2:00 pm)
Jordan Spieth (13) and Jason Day (14) are two of the premier young golfers in the game today. Spieth is one of the stories of the year, breaking into the playoffs and the Presidents Cup in his first year as a pro. Day has been ever-so-close to winning a number of times this year. (Thursday 1:00 pm)
The Mr. Nice Guy group finds Matt Kuchar (5) and Steve Stricker (6) teeing up together. There likely won’t be too much trash talk between the two, but both men are sure to have their competitive fires stoked throughout the round. There should be a decent level of comfort that will benefit this pairing, as the two are very familiar with one another. (Thursday 1:40 pm)
You can’t really be sure what you’re going to get from the Justin Rose (9) and Brandt Snedeker (10) pairing. Rose is this year’s U.S. Open champion and Sneds is the defending FedEx Cup champion. After missing the cut at The Barclays, Snedeker has gotten progressively better with each event. Rose has been trending the other way, but this should be a great group to follow, nonetheless. (Thursday 1:20 pm)