Ideas to improve the FedEx Cup playoffs

By Jason SobelAugust 28, 2012, 6:51 pm

The FedEx Cup playoffs are the PGA Tour's attempt to crown a true champion after a full season of golf, and while most will agree it is an improvement on the old system, some problems persist. We asked our writers what one change they would make to the FedEx Cup playoffs. Here are their suggestions.


The great Bob Marley used to sing: 'You can fool some people sometimes, but you can't fool all the people all the time.'

I'm pretty sure PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem isn't much of a reggae guy, but he would be wise to heed Marley's life lesson in regard to the FedEx Cup.

As it currently stands, Finchem and the folks in Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters are trying to fool both the players and the fans. They've sold the players on this being a four-event series that rewards the best player of the season; they've sold the fans on it being more of an anything-can-happen shootout.

The truth is, both ideas are a little bit pregnant. And you can't be a little bit pregnant.

The greatest change that the FedEx Cup needs – and always has – is to pick one option. Should it reward the season's best player? Or serve as a fun, entertaining thrill ride for fans?

I'd lean toward the latter, but wouldn't have a problem with either one, as long as a proper philosophy toward the playoff race was established. After all, you can't fool all the people all the time. 


By nearly any measure the current version is an improvement over what passed for a big finish before 2007. Prior to the Tour’s dramatic changeover to the FedEx Cup format, the Tour Championship was little more than a 30-man cash grab with all the built-in drama of a Skills Challenge.

But that doesn’t mean the current postseason is perfect.

Consider, for example, the points reset following next week’s BMW Championship. The math is complicated, yet the reality is simple.

If Nick Watney, winner of last week’s playoff opener at Bethpage, was to clip the field this week at the Deutsche Bank Championship and next week at the BMW Championship his lead over the second-ranked player in the FedEx Cup points race would be 250 heading into the Tour Championship. It is the exact same lead he would have, in theory, if he were to finish tied for 15th the next two weeks.

The dramatic leveling of the playing field was introduced after the 2008 post-season when Vijay Singh won the first two post-season events and needed to only remain upright at East Lake to collect the $10 million jackpot.

The Tour’s mathematicians worked hard on a formula that would maintain the playoff’s competitive integrity and the Tour Championship’s relevance. So far that system has worked, but that could all change in two weeks if Watney continues to play like he did at Bethpage.


Each tweak over the past few years has improved the FedEx Cup, no doubt, but one glaring weakness remains: the field size for The Barclays, the playoff-opening event.

If the four-event playoffs are designed to identify the best player of the season, then how can players such as – no offense – Billy Mayfair, Boo Weekley and Jerry Kelly even qualify for the opener? Hey, the San Diego Padres, Minnesota Twins and Houston Astros aren’t making the MLB playoffs this year. There’s strength in exclusivity.

Even 100 players may be too many for the first event. Does anything about Andres Romero (93rd), Chris Stroud (99) and Roberto Castro (100) scream playoff contender? Those three players combined to post five top-10 finishes this season. Five.

This correspondent’s model would look like this: 75 players in the first event, 60 in the second, 45 in the third, and the 30-man playoff finale.

Why dilute what’s supposed to be a showcase of 2012’s best players? 

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.