GET INTO GOLF: Tour’s best chase $10M and a spot at the top
After last week’s break, the PGA Tour Playoffs and the FedEx Cup are back in action at the East Lake Golf Club 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 “The Barclays”) and rounds are played Thursday–Sunday, appearing like a regular week on tour, yet there is no cut for the weekend.
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 Deutsche Bank Championship). Then 70 players move on to tourney No. 3 (the BMW Championship) and then the final, still known as the Tour Championship (sponsored by CocaCola). 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 (BMW) 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 could win the Tour Championship event and yet another player with a greater number of total points would still take home the FedEx Cup.
In fact, this year, it is within the realm that Paul Casey, currently fifth, could win the FedEx Cup without winning a playoff event. It is unlikely, however, as the last three FedEx champions have entered the final event at No. 2 in the standings.
Another case in point is Jason Day. Day had to withdraw from this week’s Tour Championship due to a back injury, yet he will still make around $1,000,000 from his FedEx Cup points.
The television coverage is good though and will continue to update FedEx points based on a player’s presumptive finish throughout the Tour Championship.
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 $10,000,000.
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 $10 million and the chance to end the year on top, all of the boys will tighten their shoes laces and tee it up.
John Renslow is a PGA Class A Professional and Instructor at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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