ATLANTA — The beginning of the end starts Thursday for William McGirt as the best season of his PGA Tour career comes to a close at the Tour Championship.
The Fairmont native is competing in the season finale of the FedEx Cup playoffs for the first time in his six seasons on the Tour. He’ll be one of 30 players vying for the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize that comes with it. Even last place is set to earn $136,000 in earnings plus $175,000 in FedEx Cup bonus money.
Splitting fairways and hitting greens are important at any event, but particularly at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, which will play as a 7,385-yard par 70. It sets up nicely for McGirt’s game. Through three playoff events, he currently ranks fifth in hitting greens in regulation, 13th in driving accuracy and 10th in proximity to the hole.
In order to be crowned the FedEx Cup Champion, McGirt will need a win — and lots of help from the field.
Here is the scenario, according to PGATour.com:
McGirt must win the Tour Championship and
• No. 1 must finish 15th or worse
• No. 2 must finish T5 or worse
• No. 3 must finish in a 3-way tie for third or worse
• No. 4 must finish T3 or worse
• No. 5 must finish in a 3-way tie for second or worse
• No. 6 must finish T2 or worse
The tournament is also the final chance for Ryder Cup hopefuls to make an impression on U.S. captain Davis Love III before he makes his final captain’s pick to fill the 12-man team ahead of Hazeltine.
McGirt, who won his first PGA title at The Memorial in early June, enters the tournament No. 23 in FedEx Cup standings. His previous high finish was 50th in 2011.
He tees off Thursday from No. 1 at 12:10 p.m. with Bubba Watson.
Making the event comes with plenty of perks for McGirt, including automatic berths in the U.S. and British Opens. It also includes spots in The Masters and PGA Championship, though he had previously qualified for those tournaments earlier in the year with his Memorial win and top-10 finish at Baltusrol.
Dustin Johnson is in the top spot heading into the event, with Patrick Reed in second, Adam Scott in third, Jason Day in fourth and Paul Casey in fifth. Defending champion Jordan Spieth sits in seventh.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.