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An appreciation of golf’s big four

23 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
An appreciation of golf’s big four

The FedExCup and PGA Tour finale is the perfect time to celebrate the success of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler

While tennis has long been dominated by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, the likelihood of a big four emerging in golf has always seemed improbable.

The reason, in short, is because requiring only a handful of shots to navigate a tiny ball into a very small hole from far away using long metal sticks is really, really difficult.

Competing against the course, as opposed to a direct opponent, also means that success is not only down to the individual.

Just ask Benjamin Hebert, the European Tour player who is battling to earn enough money to retain his playing rights for next year.

The Frenchman carded four rounds in the sixties at last week’s Italian Open – finishing 13 under par – a stellar performance that was only enough to earn him a share of 25th.

So while there are too many tours, tournaments and mitigating factors for tennis’ ruthless oligopoly to be truly reproduced in golf, the recent success of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler deserves acknowledging.

Day, Spieth and McIlroy have won five of the last six major championships, while Fowler recorded top-five finishes in all of golf’s grand-slam events in 2014.

In 2015, they have won 15 tournaments between them.

Unsurprisingly, all four can win the FedExCup – and the $10m prize money that comes with it – with victory at the US season-ending Tour Championship this week.

The fourth and final event of the PGA Tour’s season-ending series boasts a $1.5m winner’s cheque and takes place at East Lake GC in Atlanta, Georgia.

Day, who overtook McIlroy as the world’s best player after romping to a six-shot victory at the BMW Championship last week, is understandably the favourite at 7/2.

That triumph was the 27-year-old Australian’s fourth win in sixth starts – a remarkable run that is made even more impressive considering it began the week after he wept at St Andrews having missed out on the Open Championship play-off by a single shot.

The week-long break between the Deutsche Bank Championship and last week’s event at Conway Farms has refreshed Day, who also happens to be one of the most mentally resolute players in the game.

A fifth victory in seven would guarantee him the FedExCup, while a top-five finish would give him a very strong chance.

Such an outcome looks ominously likely considering he tied for sixth at this week’s venue in 2011 before sharing fourth last year.undefinedIt is a measure of Day’s achievements that Spieth – winner of two of the year’s four majors and the youngest player after Tiger Woods to reach the summit of the sport – is by no means certain to be named as Player of the Year by his peers.

But a win this week – which would be his fifth of the year and secure him FedExCup victory – would almost certainly be enough to receive that honour.

The 22-year-old, who responded to the first two missed cuts of his career by tying for 13th in Illinois last week, is 8/1 to do so.

A top-three finish, additionally, would give the man who tied for second at the event in 2013 a fine chance of ending his dream season in style.

McIlroy, meanwhile, has had a stop-start season – he was unable to defend his Open title due to injured ankle ligaments – yet has still won three times around the world.

The Northern Irishman tied for fourth at the BMW Championship – his best result since returning to fitness – and is 6/1 to secure the victory he needs if he is to have any chance of winning the FedExCup.

Like Day has done this season, McIlroy won two of the first three play-off events three years ago.

But while he was ultimately pipped to the main title then, it would be typical of McIlroy if he responded by scooping the combined $11.5m bounty.

The 26-year-old, who was tied second at East Lake 12 months ago, is more than capable of doing so.undefinedAnd then there is Rickie Fowler who, despite not being a major winner, has still achieved an impressive amount in the game.

The American followed winning his third title of the season at the Deutsche Bank Championship two weeks ago with a tied-fourth position at the BMW Championship.

Like Day and Spieth, Fowler is responsible for his final FedExCup position.

A win will deliver him the greatest moment of his career – he is 11/1 to do so – while a runner-up spot would also give him a significant chance.

The 26-year-old’s recent form – and position of eighth at this event last year – confirm that he is a legitimate contender.

There are, naturally, convoluted permutations as to where those in contention can finish and still win depending on the performance of their rivals.

But to scrutinise that would be both churlish and irrelevant.

The reason for the sustained success of Day, Spieth, McIlroy and, latterly, Fowler is because of their relentless desire to win.

That will be their only thought when teeing off on Thursday.

Those four are the ones most likely to dominate – both this week and for the foreseeable future.

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