FedEx Cup changes made to ensure no repeat of 2008
We have great expectations for the future of this competition, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said.
Based on the excitement level of the first two years, the FedEx Cup can only improve.
Tiger Woods was so dominant during the inaugural year in 2007 that he skipped the opening playoff event and could have skipped the Tour Championship and still won. This year, Vijay Singh won the first two playoff events, building such a large lead that he mathematically clinched the title before the Tour Championship ' he only had to complete four rounds.
Under the new formula, points that previously had been reset at the start of the four-tournament playoffs will not be changed until the Tour Championship, meaning all 30 players who qualify for the finale will have a mathematical chance to win.
Finchem said the top five in the standings at East Lake would win the FedEx Cup with a victory, while the next five in the standings also would have a reasonable chance by winning.
I think were moving in the right direction, Finchem said.
The Tour Championship at East Lake will be played Sept. 24-27, providing a one-week break after the first three playoff events. The break was created this year because of the Ryder Cup, and Finchem said players liked it so much that it will stay that way through the end of the television contract in 2012.
The change attempts to strike a balance between the regular season and the playoffs.
British Open and PGA champion Padraig Harrington was the No. 4 seed going into the playoffs this year, but he missed the cut in the first two events and failed to reach the Tour Championship, depriving East Lake of star power when it already was lacking drama.
In the new formula, he at least would have reached the final event ' although with little chance of winning the FedEx Cup ' because the points are not reset until the Tour Championship.
The playoff events ' The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship ' take on additional meaning because the points are worth five times more than a regular-season event. The majors and World Golf Championships are worth slightly more than regular tournaments.
Meanwhile, the points system was reduced dramatically to simplify and make it easier for fans to keep track. This year, for example, the winner of a regular PGA Tour event earned 4,500 points, and Tiger Woods finished the regular season atop the standings with 22,695 points (even though he didnt play after the U.S. Open). With the new formula, he would have had 3,592 points.
Finchem also decided to trim the field ' starting with 125 players at The Barclays, reduced to 100 players at the Deutsche Bank, 70 players at the BMW Championship and 30 at the Tour Championship. Previously, the playoffs started with 144 players and the field was reduced to 125 players, then 70 and 30.
Even with the change, Woods could have the kind of year he had in 2007' five wins and a major before the playoffs ' and still skip the opening event without doing too much damage to his chances of winning the FedEx Cup.
Finchem said he spoke to Woods, Phil Mickelson and other top players about the changes, along with some 80 other players. The policy board unanimously approved the change during a conference call Tuesday afternoon.
The tour staff rejected the idea of an 18-hole shootout, which the LPGA uses, or cutting the field during the Tour Championship so that only four players were left.
We had a range of suggestions of that vein, he said. We were not persuaded by moving further to rebuild something we felt was working. Something this important should be decided over 72 holes.
What next year should decide is what the FedEx Cup champion will have accomplished.
There was little movement during the playoffs in the first year, putting most of the emphasis on the entire season. This year, the points were so volatile that the winner was decided by who had the best month.
Its not one week, its not four rounds. Its the entire season, and then youre playing against the best, Finchem said.
He said it complemented the golf season marked by the majors, and considering the strong fields in the playoff events, its as tough to win as anything.
Watch: Birds attack JT during post-round interview
Justin Thomas may have carded five birdies and an eagle on Saturday at the Genesis Open, but it was the two birds he encountered after his round that made for the biggest highlight.
Fresh off a third-round 67 that put him in the mix at Riviera Country Club through 54 holes, Thomas' post-round interview was interrupted by a couple of birds. Luckily, JT and CBS' Amanda Balionis were able to escape unscathed and with smiles on their faces.
Thomas will need to do a little worse at dodging birdies in the final round if he wants to catch the leaders on Sunday.
Watch: Fathauer dunks one off flagstick for eagle
The NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest will take place Saturday night in Los Angeles, but Derek Fathauer kicked things off a little early with this eagle in the third round of the Genesis Open.
Playing his second shot on the par-4 third hole at Riviera Country Club, Fathauer dunked one off the flagstick and into the hole for an eagle-2:
The shot got the the 32-year-old, in search of his first PGA Tour victory, under par for the round and into the mix early on Moving Day.
Luiten in three-way tie at Oman Open
MUSCAT, Oman - Joost Luiten showed a return to form after a mediocre 2017 as he moved into a three-way tie for the lead in the Oman Open on Saturday.
The Dutchman shot a second straight 6-under 66 - the joint best score of the day - to move to 12-under 204. He was joined at the top by Matthew Southgate (69) and Frenchman Julien Guerrier (66) after the third round at the Greg Norman-designed Al Mouj Golf Club.
England's Chris Wood (69), another man on the comeback trail, was in fourth place at 11 under, but it could have been a lot better if not for a bogey-bogey finish. Adrian Otaegui (66) was a shot behind Wood while pre-tournament favorite, France's Alexander Levy (67), was at 9 under.
The 90th-ranked Luiten credited some hot iron play for his success after a cracked driver set him back last year when he had just two top-10 finishes the whole season.
''I cracked my driver in my first tournament of the year in Abu Dhabi and it took me almost six months to get another one that I really liked. Once you are not driving the ball well, it puts pressure on other parts of your game,'' said the 32-year-old Luiten. ''My iron play did not get me into trouble at all today.''
Southgate was quick off the block with three birdies in his first three holes. But the Englishman then made two bogeys and a double bogey in his next four holes, and a birdie on the ninth saw him make the turn at even-par.
That forced him to think differently for the back nine and he was rewarded with three birdies.
''It was quite funny really,'' Southgate said. ''We birdied the ninth and I walked off and said to my caddie Gary ... 'We've just shot level par, so let's just pretend that we've made nine solid pars and that we haven't holed a putt and haven't made a birdie. Let's just start again on the 10th'.''
The 32-year-old Guerrier started his round with a monster 48-foot birdie putt and had an eagle, six birdies and two bogeys.
J.Y. Ko increases lead; Lydia focuses on positives
ADELAIDE, Australia - Jin Young Ko continued her domination of the Women's Australian Open, shooting a 1-under 71 Saturday to increase her lead to four strokes after three rounds.
The South Korean, who led after each of the opening two rounds of the LPGA tournament, had a three-round total of 11-under 205 at Kooyonga Golf Club.
Australian golfer Hannah Green moved into second place after the round of the day, a 66.
Green, 21, is seeking to become the first Australian to claim her national crown since Karrie Webb won the last of her five titles in 2014. Webb, who is playing a part-time schedule in 2018, missed the cut Friday by one stroke.
Green birdied her first three holes on Saturday and then added two more on the eighth and ninth. Two more birdies followed on the back nine with her only dropped shot a bogey on the 17th.
"I was very pleased with my ball striking," Green said. "I have put myself in contention so I'm very happy with how things are panning out.
"It was a real shame about Karrie missing the cut, but I know she has got different plans."
South Korea's Hyejin Choi (70), was tied for third, five strokes behind. Australia's top-ranked golfer Minjee Lee was tied for fifth after a 69, six off the lead.
Former No. 1 Lydia Ko shot a 71 and was eight strokes behind.
"It's always nice to be able to start the season on a good note, and I've obviously got tomorrow," Lydia Ko said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to finish off on a high note."