Golf Column

My FedEx Cup runneth over

By Paul Viau | Aug 27, 2013
Photo by: File Paul Viau

This past weekend the PGA began the annual tour championship and competition for the coveted FedEx Cup. During the next few weeks we all will find out which golfer goes home with the $10 million prize — the biggest payout in sports.
There’s a lot of money at stake, and PGA careers are on the line, but right now the players aren’t calling their accountants for investment advice — they’re having them explain how the playoff points system works.
At the risk of popping a huge brain aneurism, here is an attempt to “simplify” the playoff scoring system, so even a child can understand it. That being said, only a child can program a DVR.
Here goes.
Throughout the PGA season — 36 events played over a 36-week period — players accumulate FedEx Cup points based on their finish in each event. Only PGA members can accrue points.
Each tournament during the regular season awards 25,000 points — tournament winners earn 4,500 points, second place earns 2,700 points, 3rd place earns 1,700 points, 4th place earns 1,200 points, 5th place earns 1,000 points … 70th place earns a whopping 50 points.
The so-called “Major” tournaments award slightly higher points. The Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship, the U.S. Open, British Open (now called the Open Championship) and the PGA Championship each award 27,500 points. World Golf Championships events award 26,250 points.
At the conclusion of the regular season, each player’s total accrued points determines his “seed” and playing position going into the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup.
At this point, all points are “reset” for the playoffs, and only the top 144 golfers can compete. The “reset” really levels the field, with the player finishing in the top position (this year, Tiger Woods) earning 100,000 points, second place earning 99,000 points and third place earning 98,500.
Even the golfer in 144th position earns 84,700 points in the “reset.” — just 15,000 points less than first place.
The playoffs consist of four tournaments, with a progressively smaller field (number of golfers).
The Barclays tournament, just played in New York, had 144 golfers. Only the top 120 will compete in the second playoff tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, which narrows the field to the top 70 golfers who will advance to the BMW Championship in Chicago.
Finally, the TOUR Championship, presented by Coca Cola (not surprisingly, in Atlanta) is limited to the top 30 finishers in the BMW Championship.
Points in all of the first three playoff events award 50,000 points — from 9,000 points to the winner to 100 points for finishing 70th. Points awarded in The Tour Championship are slightly higher, due to the smaller number competing — the winner in this event earns 10,300 points and the player finishing 30th gets just 395 points.
At the conclusion of all this golfing and calculating, the FedEx Cup will award a total of $35 million in bonus money, with $10 million going to the FedEx Cup Champion.
By the way, because of the way points are weighted, it is possible for one golfer to win the TOUR Championship, and another win the FedEx Cup.
Well, that’s the PGA Tour Playoffs explained in less than 500 words.
To see if you comprehend everything, I have prepared a test question.
If a train carrying 30 PGA Tour golfers (and an equal number of caddies) leaves New York City’s Grand Central station at Noon, and travels to Chicago     (exactly 1,000 miles away) at 100 m.p.h., how long will it take them to find out that Tiger Woods is traveling by private jet?
Anyway, now that you’ve “got the point,” enjoy the PGA Tour playoffs.

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