Why the PGA Tour Championship is the biggest warm-up act in sport

19. září 2012 v 9:54
It is the most lucrative warm-up act in sport. The top 30 players on the US PGA Tour will tee off at the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Thursday for the chance to win US$10m.
Rory McIlroy will start as the favourite as he aims for his third consecutive victory after his wins at the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship.
The top five players in the rankings - Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker - have their fate in their hands.
Win the US$1.44m first prize for the Tour Championship and they will also bank the biggest bonus in world sport (see the various scenarios for the top five below).
But after several tweaks to the format since the first year in 2007, every player has a chance of taking the prize after the points accumulated during the season were reset for the final four events of the FedEx Cup.
Except this weekend will not just be about the money. The Ryder Cup starts on Friday September 28 and 17 of the competitors are in the Atlanta field. All 12 Americans and as well as world No 1 McIlroy, there is Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.
A win for one of the European five would be a psychological boost for Jose Maria Olazabal's team, especially if Rory were to beat Tiger over the closing holes.
Maybe the next best scenario would be for an American who has not made Davis Love's team to be victorious. Nick Watney, who sits in third place, won the first playoff event but it was not enough to convince his captain to give him a wildcard. Hunter Mahan, the loser of the decisive singles match at Celtic Manor in 2010, was also over-looked.
In 2008, the LPGA in the United States attempted to bring in a rule forcing all players to pass an English-speaking exam to qualify to play on the tour. They backed down after only 10 days after a storm of protest from sponsors and players. The measure, interpreted as racist, had been a blatant attempt to stop the Asian takeover of the sport.
On Sunday, Korean Jiyai Shin became the fourth Asian winner of a Major this season with her nine-shot victory at the wind-swept Women's British Open at Royal Liverpool.
In fact, Asian women have won the last seven Majors and hold eight of the top ten positions in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings.
With golf becoming an Olympic event in 2016, time will tell whether the men's game will be similarly dominated by players from outside the traditional strongholds of Europe, North America and South Africa. But YE Yang, the winner of the 2009 US PGA title, will not be the last male winner from Asia's Tiger economies.

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