GET INTO GOLF: Getting a grip on the PGA Tour playoff format
After last week’s break, the PGA Tour playoffs and the FedEx Cup are back in action at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia.
If you recall, following the Tour’s final regular point event a month ago, the top 125 players qualified for the first of four playoff tournaments.
Each event has its own sponsor (beginning with “Northern Trust”) and rounds are played Thursday–Sunday, appearing like a regular week on tour.
Similar to playoffs in other sports, the number of participants is whittled down after each week or match. After the first week, the top 100 players advanced to week No. 2 (The Dell Technologies Championship). Then 70 players moved on to the BMW Championship.
The final, still known as the Tour Championship is host to the top 30 players.
The playoffs are essentially scheduled for consecutive weeks. However, there is a break between tournaments and this year that rest took place between tournament No. 3 (Dell) and tournament No. 4 (Tour Championship).
It all started at the first stop of the tour schedule, and with the FedEx point events not following a calendar year, the season started last October at the Frys.com Open in Napa. The players are earning points based on the how they finish each week. Sounds a bit like NASCAR points…and it is.
Everybody who plays well, and makes the cut, gets a certain number of points. Using the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as an example, the winner received 500 points and the last player to earn a paycheck received one whopping point. After the Tour’s last event in August, those who have enough points to finish 125th or better on the list, qualify for the playoffs.
Here is the interesting — yet sometimes confusing thing — during these four events, each tournament stands on its own and it also becomes part of the whole. The aggregate points that one collects or earns are a factor as each new event begins, while this same event will reward players based on that four-round tournament alone.
So, it is possible that a player with a lesser number of points going in to this final, the Tour Championship, could win the specific event and yet another player with a greater number of total points would still take home the FedEx Cup.
This year, entering this final event, any of the top-five point earners could win the overall total without winning. It is unlikely, however, as virtually any player could be at the top of the year long points list with a win and some help.
The television coverage is good though and will continue to update FedEx points based on a player’s presumptive finish throughout the weekend.
These guys are playing hard all year, FedEx Cup or not, with the playoffs an added bonus for both the players and fans. For the players it is the opportunity and challenge to compete with the Tour’s best, not to mention that the winner of this little shin dig gets $10 million.
For the fans, we get to see a focus on the top players. Throughout the year, some guys will skip a tournament for rest, family, or maybe they just don’t like the golf course. But, when you’re talking ten million dollars and the chance to end the year on top, all of the boys will try to bring their “A” game.
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides Golf Instruction at local courses.
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As far as experts go, The Union’s “experts” have not exactly lived up to the billing so far this season.