Tour Championship 2022 standings breakdown: Scottie Scheffler drops low to increase first-round lead

For the most part, Day 1 of the Tour Championship at East Lake went the way of the entire PGA Tour season. Scottie Scheffler entered with a lead and left with an even bigger lead, and now he enters the next three days trying to win the richest prize – $18 million for first – in PGA history Round.

Scheffler topped the day like he topped the season and added a 5-under 65 to his 10-under total — earned by entering No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings — to start his week. His 15-under total is five better than second and seven better than all but two players in this group of 29 golfers.

The Masters champion has some heat around him though, mostly from Xander Schauffele, one of the best players in East Lake history. It was Scheffler’s main competition on Thursday as he tried to create space between himself and the rest of the standings.

Let’s take a look at what he did on Day 1 and what lies ahead for the rest of the week.

The leaders

1. Scottie Scheffler (-12): Scheffler was quietly awesome on Thursday. After an early 3-under start through six holes, it looked like he was going to run off the field even sooner than some (including myself) had predicted. However, he uncharacteristically struggled from tee to green midway through his round before finishing with three straight birdies to hit a 65 that only included a bogey. He didn’t even feel like he played that well, but at the end of the day he was fifth in the world and staring at the top prize of $18 million. It’s kind of who Scheffler is; it doesn’t always look perfect, but he was one of the top scorers of the year and will be looking to become the first golfer since Justin Thomas in 2017 to lead the PGA Tour with five wins in a season. A win on Sunday would also more than double his season earnings to just over $14 million.

Other suitors

2. Alex Shovel (-10)

3. Matthew Fitzpatrick (-9)

T4. Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay (-8)

T6. Rory McIlroy, Sungjae Im, Cameron Smith (-7)

Schauffele’s East Lake numbers are almost comical. In 20 rounds, he’s averaged 3.5 strokes won on some of golf’s most talented courses. The next closest player in that area is McIlroy at 2.7 in 32 rounds, where Justin Thomas also sits. To better contextualize that, Tiger Woods has won 3.29 strokes on the Tour Championship grounds in 28 innings there, and Schauffele lives beyond that. Add to that the fact that he played terrific golf towards the end of the summer, and it’s clear that Schauffele is the most formidable of all the contenders Scheffler will try to hold off over the next 54 holes.

Rory’s Psycho Dash

We got a gem from McIlroy on the front nine today. After opening with a triple at first, he shot a 1 of 36 on that side of the course while only carding a par. It wasn’t as wacky on the back nine, but every day you only make four pars and still shoot in the 60s is a day worth celebrating for your psycho dash. More importantly for McIlroy, he is somehow only eight behind the lead on a day when he finished second to last in field driving.

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Purse strings

To try to emphasize what’s on the table this week, consider the following: This week at the Tour Championship, the total prize money is $58 million. That’s $8 million more than full PGA Tour season prizes this time 30 years ago.

Aaron Wise’s Opportunity

The best run at the start of the day belonged to Aaron Wise, who played alone and offered a fake handshake to an invisible partner after his tour. Oh yeah, and he dropped a 5-under 67 to go from bottom to top 10. There are implications for Wise other than the $58 million at stake. He’s in contention for what would be his first Presidents Cup team, and with the absence of Will Zalatoris, the door is open for Wise to play his way into this team. Wise currently sits in 21st place, which is a far cry from where you’d think a player would be picked as the captain’s pick. However, Wise is young, talented and has been one of the hottest players this year.

Tour Championship 2022 Odds and Picks Update

  • Scottie Scheffler: -120
  • Alex Pelle: +550
  • Matt Fitzpatrick: 12-1
  • Patrick Cantlay: 14-1
  • Rory McIlroy: 14-1
  • Cameron Smith: 25-1
  • Jon Rahm: 25-1
  • Joaquin Niemann: 28-1

The three guys here that I really like are Scheffler, Schauffele and Niemann. Scheffler and Schauffele are, in my eyes, in a two-horse race to win this week given their late and solid historical quality of play at this course. Niemann could ride a heater to catch them, especially if Scheffler collapses. His 63-63 start at Riviera earlier this season sticks in my mind, and he finished second in that field from tee to green on Thursday. I would love to have him at 28-1 and then see another 64 from him on Friday afternoon.

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