Patrick Cantlay (pictured) tees off with Tony Finau at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Top-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain and No. 4 Patrick Cantlay of the United States are co-favorites to win the Tour Championship golf tournament and claim the 2021 FedExCup this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The final tournament of the PGA Tour season runs from Thursday through Sunday and airs on Golf Channel and NBC. The winner receives a $15 million prize.
"I'm excited," Rahm told reporters Tuesday. "I'm playing good golf, playing well in the playoffs and getting here in a good spot."
No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 9 Tony Finau, No. 6 Justin Thomas, No. 2 Dustin Johnson, No. 23 Cameron Smith and No. 14 Jordan Spieth are among the other favorites to win at East Lake.
The Tour Championship uses a staggered scoring system, which allows to highest-ranked players to start the tournament with progressive under-par scores.
Cantlay will start play at 10-under par. Finau will start at 8-under, DeChambeau at 7-under, Rahm at 6-under and Smith at 5-under.
Thomas, Spieth, No. 11 Harris English, No. 12 Abraham Ancer and No. 25 Sam Burns will start at 4-under. Johnson, No. 3 Collin Morikawa and three others will start at 3-under.
No. 13 Rory McIlroy, No. 5 Xander Schauffele, No. 10 Brooks Koepka, No. 30 Kevin Na and No. 26 Jason Kokrak tee off at 2-under. Five other players tee off at 1-under.
The PGA does not release attendance figures for the Tour Championship, but a spokesperson told UPI on Wednesday that 80% of the tournament's full capacity can attend this week in Atlanta.
Fans were not allowed to attend the 2020 season finale due to COVID-19.
Ban on "Brooksie" taunt
The rivalry between DeChambeau and Koepka continues to energize golf fans, leading some to taunt players at tournaments.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told reporters Tuesday that "unsafe, disruptive or harassing behavior" with comments or gestures "will not be tolerated."
He said those who target DeChambeau with "Brooksie" taunts are subject to "expulsion from the tournament."
"The barometer that we are all using is the word 'respect,' and to me, when you hear 'Brooksie!' yelled or you hear any expression yelled, the question is: Is that respectful or disrespectful?," Monahan said.
"That has been going on for an extended period of time. To me, at this point, it's disrespectful, and that's the kind of behavior that we're not going to tolerate going forward."
Temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and 80s, with a slight chance of rain. The 7,319-yard course features gradual changes in elevation and fast Bermuda grass greens.
"I absolutely love this golf course," Thomas told reporters Tuesday. "It's very similar to how I feel about TPC Sawgrass. It's a place where I get comfortable every time I come.
"It's a place I am going to win at some point in my career. ... I know if you drive the ball well, you can really tear this place up. That's the game plan this week."
The FedExCup Playoffs started with Finau's win at the Northern Trust on Aug. 23 in Jersey City, N.J., which moved the American up to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings. Cantlay claimed the BMW Championship on Monday to jump Finau and climb from No. 4 to No. 1.
The Tour Championship field features 30 players and does not feature a cut through the first two rounds. Dustin Johnson is the defending champion.
Players tee off the first round as part of a two-man groups Thursday on hole No. 1.
First round tee times (in EDT Thursday)
Billy Horschel, Patrick Reed at 11:40 a.m.
Erik van Rooyen, Sergio Garcia at 11:50 a.m.
Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger at noon
Stewart Cink, Joaquin Niemann at 12:10 p.m.
Corey Conners, Hideki Matsuyama at 12:20 p.m.
Kevin Na, Brooks Koepka at 12:30 p.m.
Xander Schauffele, Jason Kokrak at 12:40 p.m.
Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy 12:50 p.m.
Viktor Hovland, Louis Oosthuizen 1 p.m.
Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im at 1:10 p.m.
Jordan Spieth, Sam Burns at 1:20 p.m.
Harris English, Abraham Ancer at 1:30 p.m.
Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas at 1:40 p.m.
Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm at 1:50 p.m.
Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau at 2 p.m.
2021 Tour Championship
First round: From 1 to 6 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel
Second round: From 1 to 6 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel
Third round: From 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; from 2:30 to 7 p.m. EDT on NBC
Fourth round: From noon to 1:30 p.m. EDT on Golf Channel; from 1:30 to 6 p.m. EDT on NBC