Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How the PGA Tour Can Really Fix the FedEx Cup Playoffs

The PGA Tour has announced changes to the FedEx Cup Playoffs that will take effect in 2019 but none of the changes will really fix the playoffs and make them more compelling for fans. Here's how the PGA Tour can really fix the FedEx Cup Playoffs to make them more compelling and interesting for golf fans.

First, the changes to the playoffs announced by the PGA Tour. The playoffs are being cut from four events to three and there will be no more week off before the final event. That's a good thing especially not having a week off during the playoffs.

However, the season ending Tour Championship will no longer have a prize money purse of its own and instead the winner of that event will win the FedEx Cup Playoffs. And instead of using points, players in the last event will start with adjusted scores.

The #1 ranked player will start at -10 under, the #2 player at -8 under and so on down to the 26th thru 30th players who start at even par. That does not simplify anything or make the playoffs any more compelling because the tour is not fixing the fundamental flaw of the playoffs.

The amount of money up for grabs is also increasing from $35 million to $60 million (not including another $10 million that will be paid out to the 1-10 players in the rankings before the playoffs begin). Increasing the money, the winner will get $15 million instead of $10 million, is also not going to solve the problem with the playoffs.

The real problem with the playoffs is that the PGA Tour does not reward players who win during the regular season enough. Winning events should be the #1 priority for ranking players in order for them to win the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

How the PGA Tour Can Fix the FedEx Cup Playoffs

Here are four players who won the FedEx Cup Playoffs without winning any regular season events.

  • Bill Haas (2011) only win all year was in Tour Championship

  • Henrik Stenson (2013) no regular season wins won two playoff events including Tour Championship

  • Billy Horschel (2014) no regular season wins won two playoff events including Tour Championship

  • Rory McIlroy (2016) no regular season wins won two playoff events including Tour Championship

If you are going to have real playoffs then players who did not win during the regular season should not be able to win four of the 11 playoffs that have been played through 2017. You cannot win the Super Bowl or the World Series or a NBA Championship or a Stanley Cup without actually winning games.

Why should a player who did not win during the regular season be given such a good chance to win in the FedEx Cup Playoffs? It's easy to fix this problem. The PGA Tour simply needs to give far more weight (points) to players who actually win events during the year.

Then the tour should not take away the heavy weighting for wins during the year in the playoffs. Make it far more likely that a player who won during the season is going to win the playoffs. And the more a player wins during the regular season the better the odds of that player winning the playoffs.

The way the playoffs are run now a player can finish 100th in the rankings and then got hot in the playoffs and win the FedEx Cup. It's too easy for a player to do that. Instead, a player who finishes in 100th place should have to win the first two playoff events to make the Tour Championship and then win that event to win the whole thing.

Until the PGA Tour starts to really reward players who actually win tournaments during the regular season and vastly increase those players chances of winning the playoffs the FedEx Cup will never be must watch TV even for golf fans. Rewarding a player who did not win anything during the regular season with a chance to get hot and win $15 million over a couple of weeks is not a real playoff.

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