Justin Thomas in pole position to collect massive $15m jackpot
New weighted points system gives BMW Championship winner a nice head start in season-ending finale
Justin Thomas celebrates his victory after made a birdie on the 18th green during the final round at the BMW Championship golf tournament at Medinah Country Club, in Medinah, Illinois. Photograph: Nam Y. Huh/AP
The vagaries of the end-of-season system in play at the FedEx Cup playoffs has provided a lot of head-scratching, even from Justin Thomas.
However, what the American knows only too clearly now, following his win in the BMW Championship, is that he is in pole position to scoop the $15 million jackpot payday at the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.
The nature of reducing the playoffs from four to three events, and of giving weighted points to the Northern Trust and the BMW, has contrived to give Thomas – who claimed his first win of the season and first success on tour since winning the WGC-Bridgestone 13 months ago – a head-start on everybody in the 30-man field, as he starts the competition at 10-under-par before a shot is hit in anger.
Shane Lowry was one of those who fell victim to the new heavily weighted system, falling out of the top-30 to be placed 33rd in the FedEx Cup standings at the cut-off point.
Graeme McDowell also failed to gatecrash his way into the end of season shindig, with Rory McIlroy the only Irish player making it to the championship. McIlroy will start off on five-under, five shots adrift of Thomas.
Thomas, the primary beneficiary of the revamped points system designed to give extra weight to the playoff events, has jumped to number one and, rather uniquely, into the lead before hitting a shot.
“There’s nobody in the history of this sport that has experienced it so nobody knows. I don’t know if it’s going to be weird . . . . it’s going to be different, I know that ,” he said.
“There’s so many variables and questions I have and this and that. If I birdie the first hole what am I at? I don’t know. Do I shoot a score, do I not? Whatever. I know that I’m in a lot better position than I was at the start of the week. I just have to be grateful and thankful for that.”
He added: “If I’m holding the trophy at the end of the week I love it. It’s going to be different. I think it has the potential to be extremely intense leaderboard come Sunday but obviously with the separation you have the potential of who knows, you know. It could be a two man show or one man show or three man show, whatever.
“I know I’m in a lot better position starting at 10-under than I was at three or something like that, probably was at the start of the week or four. I’m going to try not to look at the leaderboards for the first couple days and just try to shoot as low as I can 18 holes.”
How each player starts at the Tour Championship
-10: Justin Thomas
-8: Patrick Cantlay
-7: Brooks Koepka
-6: Patrick Reed
-5: Rory McIlroy
-4: Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer
-3: Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
-2: Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner
-1: Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Sungjae Im, Chez Reavie
Level par: Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak