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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Tour Championship experts' picks


Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga.


Horse for the Course


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Tiger Woods
Bad back and all, he still only has to beat 29 guys. I don't think he'll win, but he is on a course that he's got two wins and four runner-ups ... did I mention he's the all-time money leader in the event by almost $1.3 million?

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Jim Furyk
The latest tour player to shoot 59, the 43-year-old took the 2010 FedEx Cup with a win at the Tour Championship. That was his last tour victory. Heading home following this week after being left off the U.S. Presidents Cup team, Furyk is itching to prove that Fred Couples made a big mistake.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Phil Mickelson
He has won twice at East Lake, and at sixth in the standings could very well take the FedEx Cup if he manages a victory.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Brandt Snedeker
Sneeeeeedeker won here last year in an emotional victory and is coming off a T-8 performance last week at the BMW Championship. He might not win the whole thing again, but a repeat at East Lake isn't out of the question.


Birdie Buster


Collins: Jordan Spieth
He has been playing with house money since winning the John Deere Classic in July. Why wouldn't the man-child continue his stellar play and do just one more thing a 20-year-old rookie has never done before -- like top three at the Tour Championship?

Evans: Steve Stricker
The 46-year-old, part-time golfer postponed his elk-hunting trip to Colorado to be in Atlanta. After a second and a tie for fourth in his past two events, he has good reason to be hunting for the $10 million first prize at East Lake.

Harig: Zach Johnson
The man has had an incredible two months, starting with a playoff loss at the John Deere Classic and strong finishes at the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship and Wyndham Championship. He capped off the run with a victory Monday at the BMW Championship.

Maguire: Steve Stricker
Stricker sits in the No. 6 spot in the FedEx Cup rankings, just outside the "control your own destiny" crowd in the top five. That being said, with a victory at the Tour Championship, the Wisconsin native just might walk away with the $10 million. Not bad for a part-time gig.


Super Sleeper


Collins: Roberto Castro
If you live less than 15 minutes from the course and have played it over a hundred times, you might have a slight leg up on some of the competition this week. Castro will be sleeping in his own bed and comes in as the "under the radar" guy no one will see coming ... until now.

Evans: Jordan Spieth
At 13th in the standings, the 20-year-old rookie needs a win and some help to take the playoffs crown. But at the beginning of the year with no status on any major tour, his chances of making it to Atlanta were pretty slim. Now he's one of the biggest stories of the year.

Harig: Brendon de Jonge
He finished 27th in the FedEx Cup standings but has never won on the PGA Tour and qualified for the Tour Championship for the first time.

Maguire: Luke Donald
He only fits this category because he sneaked his way into the Tour Championship with a final-round 66. Toss in his four top-5 finishes in six starts at East Lake and you have a possible surprise winner of the 2013 season finale.


Winner


Collins: Adam Scott
Did you forget he won this event in 2006? It's OK if you did. Other than his sixth-place finish in 2011, he hasn't cracked the top 10. This is a different Adam, though. This Adam has a green jacket and 10 million new reasons to take the title, including player of the year.

Evans: Tiger Woods
The 14-time major champion hasn't played poorly in the playoffs. His worst finish was a tie for 65th at the Deutsche Bank Championship. At East Lake, where he last won in 2007, he will take his third FedEx Cup crown. It's not as big as a major, but it's a nice way for the world's best player to finish off another phenomenal season.

Harig: Tiger Woods
A victory at East Lake would be his third Tour Championship title, locking up a third FedEx Cup. It also would give him six wins this year and 80 for his PGA Tour career. A nice way to end the season.

Maguire: Justin Rose
A victory for the reigning U.S. Open champ -- who finished second last year at East Lake -- would make next week's PGA Tour player of the year debate mighty interesting.