Tour Championship opens Thursday

Sept. 19, 2012 at 8:54 PM
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ATLANTA, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The final event of the season on the PGA Tour begins Thursday, one featuring a Rory McIlroy-Tiger Woods showdown and a $10 million payday.

The Tour Championship will bring together 30 of the world's top players on a golf course once home to Masters founder Bobby Jones.

A year-long points race has led to the selection of the 30 players who will compete at the East Lake Golf Club this week and the one on top of that points list at the end of the tournament will win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize that goes with it.

McIlroy, who has captured two of the three playoff tournaments leading up to this event, owns the points lead. Those points, however, were re-set prior to the Tour Championship and if any of the Top 5 on the list wins the tournament that player will also win the FedEx Cup.

In addition to McIlroy, those five include Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker.

If all five of the current leaders stumble this week, any number of players could vault to the top. Bill Haas started the Tour Championship in 25th place a year ago and he wound up winning both the tournament and the FedEx Cup.

Haas did not make it into the leading 30 players this year, but those who did include Louis Oosthuizen, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Steve Stricker and the winners of the year's four major championships -- Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els and McIlroy.

Eight of the 30 players began the playoffs outside 30th place and moved into FedEx Cup contention because of their play in the three previous events.

Ryan Moore moved from 64th to 28th place, Lee Westwood jumped from 51st to eighth and Watney climbed all the way from 49th to third thanks to his win in the first of the three playoff tournaments.

McIlroy and Woods will be paired together for the first round. John Senden and Scott Piercy, who are 29th and 30th in the points race, will begin the tournament at 11:35 a.m. EDT.

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