John Renslow: Tour Championship, $15M on the line this weekend
This is the last week of the PGA Tour’s annual season. We discussed the playoffs a couple of weeks ago and today the final stage, the Tour Championship is underway.
Candidly, until now this has been a challenge to track. Points earned throughout the year comprise an aggregate total for those who earned them. The top 125 qualified for the playoffs, which is played over three weeks. This is known as the FedEx Cup and, in turn, the FedEx Playoffs.
Because it is an aggregate system, players can sit out an event and not necessarily lose their position on the list. For example, a player in the top 10 could conceivably sit out the first two weeks and still qualify for the final, Tour Championship composed of the top 30 point earners.
Granted, they would likely fall in the standings, as others earn more points, but they don’t lose points if they don’t play.
It makes the playoffs a bit confusing. Each event stands on its own and also becomes part of a whole. In addition, the value of each event is greater. More points are awarded to those who perform well.
Therefore, a player could win an individual event and not earn enough points to lead the overall FedEx Points list.
There was one year, in fact, that the winner of the Tour Championship did not win the year long FedEx Cup. The PGA was not excited about this outcome and this became the impetus for some of the format changes.
So, here is the good news as you watch the top 30 players in the world this weekend. It has been simplified. Players start their first round at a certain number “under par,” based on their position entering this final event. Then they tee it up. The player who wins this Tour Championship will also capture the annual FedEx Cup.
The FedEx Cup points leader after the first two playoffs events began the Tour Championship at 10-under par. The No. 2 player will start at 8 under. The No. 3 player starts at 7 under; the No. 4 player starts at 6 under; the No. 5 player starts at 5 under. Players 6-10 start at 4 under; players 11-15 start at 3 under; players 16-20 start at 2 under; players 21-25 start at 1 under; and players 26-30 start at even par.
It was strange to see a player standing on the first tee on Thursday at 10 under par. Yet, by the time we get to Sunday, it will all look fairly normal.
It won’t feel normal to the players, however, as the winner will receive $15 million for taking home the FedEx trophy.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses
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