Massive East Lake jackpot gets players` attention
Atlanta: This week`s Tour Championship offers a plethora of winning scenarios for the prestigious FedExCup where the lucrative jackpot for the overall champion has certainly got the attention of the players.
Any of the top five players in the season-long points standings would secure the trophy, and a staggering USD10 million bonus, with victory at East Lake Golf Club in the PGA Tour`s final playoff event.
"There`s a lot at stake -- the FedExCup champion, winning the Tour Championship and obviously there`s a big bonus for that, too," long-hitting American Dustin Johnson told reporters at East Lake on Tuesday.
"This week the zeros (in USD10 million) definitely catch your attention. That`s a lot of money, and that`s enough for you to think about, for sure."
Johnson is one of the fortunate five going into Thursday`s opening round, lying second in the standings after a successful season highlighted by victory at The Barclays last month.
"I`ve had a pretty good year and a good playoff run," the 27-year-old said. "I`m in a good position. All I need to do is win the tournament and I win everything but it will be tough.”
"We`ve got 30 of the best guys on Tour playing here this week and nobody is just going to give you anything. You`re going to have to earn every bit of it."
Only 30 players have qualified for the last of the four playoff events after 125 started out at the weather-hit Barclays won by Johnson at Plainfield Country Club.
Among those in the elite field at East Lake is Justin Rose, who vaulted from 34th in the FedExCup standings to third by winning the BMW Championship at Cog Hill.
"This is an opportunity I didn`t really foresee happening at the beginning part of last week," said the 31-year-old Englishman, who adopted a successful do-or-die attitude at the BMW.
"I`m viewing this as an opportunity rather than now trying to worry about my position and trying to just think about it from the perspective of nothing to lose once again. I haven`t been in this situation all year, so just let it ride."
Asked if the USD10 million bonus was a potential distraction at East Lake, Rose replied: "Obviously it`s a huge bonus but thinking that way about it doesn`t help you play better golf.
"The key and the strategy is to do what you do best -- to use all your skills, to stay in the moment and to keep it one shot at a time. What makes winning the FedExCup a huge challenge is to deal with the pressure of the USD10 million."
Each of the 30 players vying for supremacy this week at East Lake has a mathematical chance of winning the FedExCup, with the points having been reset since last week.
However that likelihood diminishes the lower down the standings the player lies going into this week`s event.
American Bo Van Pelt, ranked 30th, needs to win the Tour Championship with overall points leader Webb Simpson finishing no better than 29th, along with several other scenarios.
"Top five is pretty important," said British world number one Luke Donald who occupies fourth place in the standings. "It gives me a lot more control going into this week.”
"I know exactly what I need to do and the higher up you are on the list, the better your chances are."
A significant part of Donald`s strategy this week will be to leave himself putts below the hole on East Lake`s slick greens.
"You need to put yourself in the right positions here and give yourself good looks," he said. "These greens can get quite fast, and putting uphill is a big advantage."
FedExCup apart, whoever clinches the Tour Championship on Sunday will earn a winner`s cheque for USD1.44 million.