The original plan was for 144-man fields at the Barclays Classic in New York, the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston and the BMW Championship in Chicago. Those players qualified through a yearlong points system.
Under the revision announced Tuesday, only the opening 'playoff' event at the Barclays Classic will have 144 players. The top 120 will advance to the Deutsche Bank the following week, and the field at the BMW Championship will be reduced to the top 70.
There would not be a cut at the BMW Championship.
PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said a weekly reduction in field gives it a playoff atmosphere, eliminating those not playing well.
'I'm delighted with this direction, and believe it represents an important improvement in our playoff structure,' he said.
Finchem said two weeks ago that he would not recommend any changes to the playoff structure in the first year, but said he changed his mind upon hearing from several sponsors and tournaments.
Among the most outspoken was Tom Pernice Jr., a former policy board member.
'I'm adamant that it's going to be one of the worst decisions we've ever made on the PGA TOUR if we don't cut the field chronologically as we go, from like 144 to 114 to 84 or whatever the numbers,' Pernice told The Golf Channel during the TOUR Championship. 'You don't have playoffs with the same amount of people three weeks in a row.'
Jon Kaczkowski, the tournament director in Chicago, said the change would made the playoffs more compelling.
'We never made a huge push for it, but it was our desire to have a reduced field in all the playoffs,' he said. 'From our standpoint, it makes it compelling when you've got 70 guys and you're cutting to 30. What I would be concerned about is having the 125th guy winning the tournament when he can't win the FedExCup.'
Kaczkowski also felt the change would help tournaments at the start of the season as players accrue points.
Points are earned from the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship until the week after the PGA Championship, with the top 144 qualifying for the Barclays Classic. The points will be reset at the start of the playoffs so the highest finishers have only a slight advantage.
Those who don't reach the second round in Boston will be ineligible the rest of the playoffs, and won't be able to play again until the tour's 'Fall Series' begins a week after the FedExCup concludes at the TOUR Championship.
'We are now well-positioned to offer PGA TOUR players ... a more compelling finish to our season,' Finchem said.
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