Brooks Koepka is ready to pay Justin Thomas after the Tour Championship as he reflected on the "stupid bet" he made with his American countryman.

Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the season-ending PGA Tour event starting at East Lake on Thursday, with Koepka three shots adrift.

But it seems Thomas is just about assured of at least one victory over Koepka after the two put a bet on for most hole-outs, the 2017 US PGA Championship winner stretching his lead during the BMW Championship.

Koepka said it was a silly bet to place and he is prepared to pay Thomas on Sunday.

"We were in Korea, we were playing together and we were talking about how all through the year we were going to have little action on how many times we hole-out," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I can't even remember the last time I holed out. I've got zero … I don't hole-out very much so it was a stupid bet on my part."

Koepka added: "I'll pay him on Sunday."

While he may lose that, Koepka still has a chance in the FedEx Cup despite the new format for the Tour Championship leaving him starting with a three-shot deficit.

The four-time major champion is not changing his approach as he eyes a first FedEx Cup title.

"It's another golf tournament – go out and try to win it. That's what you do every time you tee it up," Koepka said.

"Take one week at a time, go with the process and see where it puts you. Obviously I've got a good chance here, being third in the FedEx Cup, having a chance to win it.

"It's important, but I'm just going to go out and play some good golf this week."

Justin Rose hopes he can catch up with Justin Thomas and successfully defend his FedEx Cup crown at the season-ending Tour Championship.

Due to a revamped format, Thomas - FedEx Cup winner in 2017 - will already be sitting at the top of the leaderboard on 10 under when the 30-player event begins on Thursday in Atlanta.

Rose heads to East Lake as the defending FedEx Cup champion, though he has plenty of work to do from his starting position at two under par, eight strokes back.

However, the Englishman is relishing the challenge of trying to retain his title, something that is now possible from his position in the field thanks to the changes made to the tournament's structure.

"There's a couple of Justins that have gone back to back, but not the same person," Rose told a news conference.

"With Justin Thomas' position this year, it could be a three-peat for our name, but I'm going to try and give him a run.

"I start at two under, so you look at it two [shots closer to the lead] a day. The way I look at is that five guys are five under and better, so one of those guys is going to play great. That puts it at maybe 13 under plus [to win]

"If I can kind of whittle into the lead and I can pull two or three back on day one, your eye is on the prize. If I slip back 10 or 11 after day one, suddenly you're thinking about how to get the most out of the week."

Rory McIlroy had questioned whether the new format is be the best way to improve on the FedEx Cup, though Rose is fascinated to see how it plays out.

"If you were leading the FedExCup in the past and you had a poor week, you'd finish maybe second, possibly third. You have a poor week now and you can finish 12th, 15th, 18th, 20th," he said.

"There's a lot more volatility, I think, with this format, which is what play-off golf is all about, I guess. It's the guys basically bringing their best golf when it counts the most.

"It's going to be interesting to see if the guys behind play with more freedom."

Rory McIlroy is uncertain if the new format of the Tour Championship will help establish the FedEx Cup finale as an elite competition comparable to golf's four majors.

Justin Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the end-of-season tournament at East Lake after the format was altered.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players will start on different scores – with Thomas, who claimed a three-shot win at the BMW Championship - top of the 30-player leaderboard before the event begins on Thursday.

Though McIlroy sees the benefits of the new format, the four-time major winner is unsure over if the rule change is the best way to improve the prestige of the Tour Championship.

"If the FedEx Cup wants to have this legacy in the game like other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?" McIlroy said in a news conference.

"That's my only thing. I get it from a fan experience and giving guys who have played better through the year an advantage, but at the same time, I don't know.

"It'll make it sweeter for a guy who starts at even or one-under-par and goes through all the field and wins. Come back to me on Monday and I'll tell you whether it's worked or not."

McIlroy will start in fifth on the leaderboard, with Patrick Reed (-6), Brooks Koepka (-7) and Patrick Cantlay (-8) between the Northern Irishman and Thomas, who is at 10 under.

"Everyone's goal coming into this week was to be on that 10-under mark," added McIlroy. "Obviously, JT is there and there's a couple of guys between myself and him.

"It's a different format this year, it's more the psychology of it. I'm starting five back, but it's very different. We're all creatures of habit and it seems very different that you're starting at a different position to the rest of the field.

"At the same time, you have to just control what you can, play the best golf that you can and hopefully if you play four good rounds then that's the lowest number at the end of the week.

"In past Tour Championships, guys from 15 to 30 had a chance to win the Championship but not really the FedEx Cup. I think those guys have a much better chance this week. I can see a scenario where 15 guys have a chance to win the entire thing.

"It'll be exciting, it'll be different, but you've just got to go out there and play good golf, not look at what other guys are doing and trust that by the end of the week things will even out."

FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas is not interested in the increased prize money for this year's championship, insisting his focus is on becoming "the best player that ever walked the planet".

In the new format, Thomas starts this week's season-ending Tour Championship on 10 under par, giving him a two-stroke lead over second-placed Patrick Cantlay at the top of the standings.

As well as the alteration to the tournament set-up, the prize pot has also changed, with an increase from $10million to $15m for the winner.

Yet despite this considerable rise, Thomas, who is bidding to win the FedEx Cup for a second time in three years, is not motivated by the money on offer.

"This week is not going to change my life - that's unbelievable, because it's an extremely substantial amount of money," he told a news conference.

"How FedEx has stepped up to take care of us players is crazy, it's unbelievable. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have thought that was possible.

"But I'm not going to change the way I live my life if I win that. Money has never driven me, I hope it never will.

"I play to win trophies and win championships and be the best player that ever walked the planet. That's all I play for. Money is a great consolation and a great thing to have.

"It's bizarre; I've never had a putt on a last hole of a tournament where I'm like: ‘Man if I make this, I finish solo second, versus if I miss this, it's a three-way tie for whatever' - a $500,000 putt.

"Whereas I go and play a money game at home and this putt is for $200 on the last hole and I have to physically give my friend $200? That makes me nervous.

"I'm not saying I don't have a rush out here. But that's fun. This is fun, too, but that's different.

"I don't know, I'm sure there is a form [amount] of money that might get me to say that, but I truly don't think that way or play that way."

Giving further evidence to his claims, Thomas admitted that his previous FedEx Cup triumph in 2017 felt like a consolation prize after failing to win the Tour Championship in the previous format.

He is determined to make sure the same does not happen again this year, too.

"One hundred per cent, yeah, it would irk me," he said. "There are world ranking points on the line. I want to beat everybody every week I play.

"Going into this week in 2017, there was only a couple of people who had won six times in a year and I wanted to be one of those people. I was p***ed, to be perfectly honest, that I didn't win.

"I think a lot of people were shocked and a little upset at how I handled just winning the FedEx Cup and $10m, but I was like: 'I just lost a golf tournament by one'. I should have won the tournament, I had a great chance.

"In the grand scheme of things, it was still a great year, my best to date, but my competitive nature is never going to be okay losing by one even if I get a consolation - a really, really good consolation at that."

Tiger Woods admits missing out on this week's Tour Championship is a blow, but nothing will take away special memories of when "all hell broke loose" during last year's triumph.

Despite winning the Masters in April, for his first major title in 11 years, the 43-year-old has not produced the consistency required to finish in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings.

Woods is joined on the sidelines by Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, among a host of star names who will be absent from the East Lake action on Thursday.

A $15million top prize is on offer, but it was not about the money for Woods last year as he won by two shots for his first tournament win in five years.

Back injury strife had raised concerns over whether Woods would ever again be a contender, but he carried off the trophy on an emotional Sunday in Atlanta, and used that as a platform to build towards the Masters.

Now though, Woods has to suck up the pain of failing to make the elite field.

"It was disappointing not to make it," Woods said. "Last year culminated in a great win, and it turned into what happened, I'm sure, at Augusta, because I was able to prove to myself that I could win again.

"I had come close a couple times and wasn't able to take it over the line, and finally I was able to do that.

"And now I didn't qualify for that event, to go back there, and I wouldn't say quite defend it, but at least be a part of it and play in it. I wasn't able to do that.

"So yeah, it is frustrating. It is disappointing. But that's the way it goes."

Woods was speaking in a teleconference looking ahead to the Presidents Cup in December, when he will captain a United States team in Australia. He has not ruled out playing in the match, too.

Should he find anything close to the form that made him a winner at the Tour Championship 12 months ago, Woods would be an asset to any team.

As he approached the 18th green on the final round at East Lake, enormous crowds flocked behind the American, energised and eager to see Woods polish off a famous victory.

"It gives me chills almost every single time I see it," Woods said. "At the time, it didn't seem like that because I didn't really look back. I only looked back a couple of times over my right shoulder."

Speaking on the PGA Tour website, Woods recalled how "everyone just busted loose behind us and all hell broke loose".

"I got on the green, I looked, and I'm like, Holy cow, there's a lot of people out there," he said.

Rory McIlroy was partnering Woods in the final round but fell away from contention and the Northern Irishman found appreciating the unfolding story alongside him to be difficult.

But he recalled looking back up the fairway as Woods tapped in to win and said the scene "was unbelievable".

"Everyone was so happy for him," McIlroy said.

"People need external things to make themselves happy and remind themselves of the good old days or whatever, and that’s what it was like; Tiger was winning a golf tournament, and it was the good old days."

United States captain Tiger Woods has not ruled out playing at the Presidents Cup, saying the final decision would be his.

Woods will lead USA against the International team in Melbourne in December as they chase an eighth straight Presidents Cup win.

Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson headline a star-studded USA outfit, but Woods may yet choose himself as a captain's pick.

"My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys," the 15-time major champion told reporters on Monday.

"That's what I'm trying to do. We'll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice-captains.

"That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play. Ultimately, it's going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain.

"But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made."

Woods has struggled since winning the Masters in April, missing two cuts and withdrawing from the Northern Trust as he failed to qualify for the season-ending Tour Championship.

He finished 13th in the Presidents Cup standings for USA, behind the eight qualified players – Koepka, Thomas, Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau – and Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed.

Golfers will incur a one-shot penalty if they breach time allowances twice in a round from next season under new regulations introduced by the European Tour.

The issue of slow play has been a hot topic in the sport of late, with Bryson DeChambeau's overly methodical approach at The Northern Trust last weekend a target for particular ire.

What action the PGA Tour chooses to take on the matter will now be a source of intrigue after its European counterparts announced a four-point plan focusing on the areas of "regulation, education, innovation and field sizes".

Fines for players persistently identified as needing to be timed – known as being "on the clock" – will increase from November this year on the tour. At present, 15 timing offenses brings a £9,000 fine but that will rise to £26,000.

At next month's BMW PGA Championship, the new Pace of Play timing system will be trialled.

A statement from the European Tour read: "When players are out of position and either being monitored or timed, a one-shot penalty will be incurred after two bad times – currently a player would be 'monitored' and if he breaches the time allowance (50 seconds for first to play, 40 seconds for second or third to play) he will then be 'officially timed' and would then have to breach twice more before being given a one shot penalty.

"Players will, however, have the option to request one time extension per round, giving an additional 40 seconds to hit a shot on this request."

The tour will also seek to cut field sizes where possible to encourage quicker play, while referees are to be encouraged to target slow players when it comes to being in position.

Players will have to pass an interactive rules test as part of their conditions of membership.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: "We are already at the forefront of pace of play management in the professional game, but after being mandated by our Tournament Committee to be even firmer in dealing with this issue, the time was right to take these additional steps.

"I believe the plan we are implementing for the 2020 season will bring about meaningful change that will make golf even more enjoyable for the players and our fans, whether they are at the course in person or watching on television."

Tiger Woods will have to make do with watching the Tour Championship on television after he failed to qualify for the PGA Tour's season-ending event.

Woods needed to finish 11th or better at the BMW Championship to make sure he would be inside the top 30 in the FedExCup points table, guaranteeing a place in the field for next week's finale.

However, successive one-under rounds left him with too much work to do over the weekend, meaning he will not be able to defend his title at East Lake.

The 15-time major winner ended a five-year wait for a tournament win at last year's Tour Championship having at one stage slipped to as low as 1,199 in the world rankings.

"Last year culminated in a pretty special moment for me and would've been nice to go back there, but I'll be watching the guys on TV," Woods said after his final round at Medinah, a course where he has twice won majors.

Woods had given himself hope of keeping his 2019 season alive with a 67 in the third round, only to finish up on in a tie for 37th on six under after signing for a score of 72 on Sunday.

"It was a little bit frustrating that I didn't have the short game I needed to make a run," he said. "I made too many bogeys around the greens.

"I had it two under par early and was giving myself at least an outside chance of getting to my number. I felt like if I shot six under then I might have moved on."

Despite having to watch the Tour Championship from afar, Woods was able to reflect positively on a year that saw him win the Masters at Augusta.

"[It was] very special to win my 15th major and get my fifth jacket," he told the PGA Tour. "The rest of the tournaments I didn't really play as well as I wanted to, but at the end of the day, I'm the one with the green jacket."

Justin Thomas will take a two-stroke lead into the Tour Championship at East Lake after the format change for the season-ending tournament.

Thomas claimed a three-shot win at the BMW Championship on Sunday, moving top of the FedEx Cup standings.

Instead of a points reset for the Tour Championship, players will start on different scores – with Thomas top of the leaderboard before the event begins on Thursday.

Here is what the leaderboard looks like after the BMW Championship, featuring all 30 players who qualified.

-10: Justin Thomas
-8: Patrick Cantlay
-7: Brooks Koepka
-6: Patrick Reed
-5: Rory McIlroy

Top 5 in the #FedExCup heading into @EastLakeGC:

1. @JustinThomas34 
2. Patrick Cantlay
3. @BKoepka
4. @PReedGolf
5. @McIlroyRory  pic.twitter.com/8SjEvALxfh

— TOUR Championship (@playofffinale) August 18, 2019 -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, Im Sung-jae, Chez Reavie
E: Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak

Justin Thomas closed out his first win of the year with a three-stroke victory at the BMW Championship on Sunday.

Thomas made waves at Medinah with his record-breaking round – a 61 – on Saturday and the American backed it up.

The 2017 US PGA Championship winner carded a four-under 68 in the final round to get to 25 under, winning the tournament and moving top of the FedEx Cup standings heading into the Tour Championship.

The win was Thomas' 10th career PGA Tour title and it came with some impressive shots.

He had a string of birdies through his back nine, four through his last eight holes, to help keep the rest of the field at bay.

Thomas held off a red-hot Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama, who both matched or shot their lowest rounds of the week.

Cantlay finished solo second (22 under) after nine birdies helped him to a seven-under 65. He was mere inches away from putting even more pressure on Thomas but just missed an eagle putt after driving the 15th green.

Matsuyama had the lowest round of the day with a 63 to jump into third place at 20 under. The 36-hole leader had set the previous record at Medinah before Thomas broke it on Saturday, and got back to form on Sunday.

He was mistake-free through the front nine with five birdies and matched that after the turn. However, a bogey on the par-four 16th stopped Matsuyama from besting his low round of the week.

Tony Finau finished in fourth place at 18 under while Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker tied for fifth at 16 under.

Corey Conners and Lucas Glover both placed seventh at 15 under and Adam Scott and Kevin Kisner rounded out the top finishers in a tie for ninth at 14 under.

Thomas Pieters became the first player to win the Czech Masters twice after securing a one-shot triumph in Prague on Sunday.

Having claimed the lead with an impressive third round of 66, the Belgian held his nerve at the top of the leaderboard to repeat his success at the same tournament four years ago.

Pieters carded four birdies on the front nine and produced some key par saves coming home to finish on 19 under, one stroke ahead of Adri Arnaus.

While it is a fourth European Tour title, this is his first since 2016, when he was victorious at the Made in Denmark on the way to earning a captain's pick for Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup squad that lost to the United States at Hazeltine.

"I'm relieved. It's been a long time – it's been three years since I last won," Pieters told the European Tour website.

"It feels good to win again. I never doubted myself but it's just been a long road of not feeling that great with the golf swing. It feels good to get back on track again and get another win."

Spaniard Arnaus finished alone in second place after matching Pieters' 69, while 2018 champion Andrea Pavan signed for a 65 to earn a share of third place, joining Sam Horsfield on 16 under.

Midway leader Edoardo Molinari failed to mount a challenge, however, as the Italian carded a three-over 75 that included three bogeys after the turn.

As far as excuses go for potentially missing a tee-off time, Phil Mickelson's reason for the fourth round of the BMW Championship was pretty fair.

The five-time major winner was facing the prospect of missing his allotted slot of 11:52am local time at Medinah on Sunday after the hotel he has been staying at was struck by lightning.

That caused a fire at the establishment and an evacuation of the building, leading Mickelson to ponder whether he would make it on time as he was without his clubs.

"How's this for crazy? My hotel was struck by lightning, I was on [the] top floor, we were evacuated and the place is on fire (only thing of mine on fire this week)," Mickelson tweeted.

"I can't get back into my room and may miss my tee time because I am without clubs and clothes."

Fortunately, emergency services were swiftly on the scene and Mickelson confirmed his belongings had been salvaged safely meaning he was scheduled to play.

"EMT's were awesome! I'm going to make it. Turns out my clubs acted as a fire retardant. Lucky me."

Earlier on Sunday, the BMW Championship's official Twitter account had issued a weather update to fans amid storms in the Chicago area.

Sunday's round will likely be Mickelson's final of the season due to his projected standing of 49th in the FedExCup rankings.

Justin Thomas set a new course record in the third round as he stormed to the top of the BMW Championship leaderboard.

Thomas carded an 11-under-par 61 to shatter the record at Medinah Country Club for a commanding six-stroke lead on Saturday.

Hideki Matsuyama had set the record on Friday, but his feat was eclipsed by 2017 FedEx Cup champion Thomas – who stole the show with two eagles and eight birdies.

Thomas birdied his opening five holes and had six through his first eight, before adding another two and a pair of eagles on the back nine.

The American is set to move top of the FedEx Cup standings as things stand, with Thomas 21 under after three rounds – ahead of Tony Finau (68) and Patrick Cantlay (68).

"I just hope the trend doesn't [continue] and someone else breaks [the course record] tomorrow," he said after his stellar round.

"It's just one of those freaky days where you get in the zone. I hit the ball pretty unbelievable. I didn't really — it's not like I made any long putts, I just hit it close to the hole and took advantage of some opportunities when I had them and got a couple good breaks."

Rory Sabbatini posted a five-under-par 67 to be fourth and seven shots adrift, while Jon Rahm (66) is a stroke further back heading into Sunday's decider.

Brandt Snedeker (67) highlights a trio of golfers tied for sixth (12 under) and Rickie Fowler (68), Kevin Kisner (69), Xander Schauffele (70) and Matsuyama (73) all sit ninth.

Former world number one and 2012 champion Rory McIlroy is 11 shots behind Thomas following his third-round 70, while Tiger Woods is three shots back.

Two-time FedEx Cup champion Woods climbed the leaderboard thanks a to a bogey-free 67, which left him in a tie for 31st.

Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will advance to the Tour Championship and Woods – who is the defending champion – is projected to finish 40th.

Tiger Woods needed a low number, and he got it during the third round of the BMW Championship thanks to a five-under-par 67.

After Woods, a two-time FedEx Cup champion, shot 71 in each of the first two rounds of the tournament, he was languishing towards the bottom of the pack.

At a time of the year when FedEx Cup points can make or break a season, Woods was in need of an improved performance on Saturday.

And at Medinah Course number three, Woods was finally able to put together a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies.

Woods was hitting the ball as well as he could have, recording his ninth career bogey-free round in the FedExCup Play-offs.

Thomas Pieters will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Czech Masters after a blistering Saturday front nine in Prague.

The 2016 Ryder Cup player, who won this event in 2015, overhauled overnight leader Edoardo Molinari with a fine 66 to move to 16 under overall.

A run of four birdies in a row saw him walk off the seventh green with the outright lead and things got even better before the turn.

Despite missing a putt to extend his streak on eight, a superb second shot allowed the Belgian to tap in an eagle three at the ninth.

And he finished in style too, profiting from a sublime approach to close with another gain to move six under for the day, a stroke clear of Adri Arnaus, who went one better than him with a 65 on Saturday.

"I think the key to that front nine was the driving," Thomas told the European Tour website.

"I hit it really far and straight so that was presenting a lot of birdie opportunities and a lot of short clubs into the holes. 

"To convert the putt on nine after a wonderful six iron in was great, and it's the closest I've come to a two on a par five."

Molinari is one of four players tied for third on 14 under alongside Hugo Leon and Swedish duo Robert Karlsson and Rikard Karlberg.

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