FedEx Cup points change rewards top finishes

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Since its creation in 2007, the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points structure has gone through numerous evolutions and even a decade into the season-long experiment officials continue to tinker.

The changes to the points structure for the 2016-17 season will be subtle and were designed to put more importance on top finishes and more closely match the points list to the money list.

The points awarded for finishes inside the top 14 remain unchanged (500 for first, 300 for second, 190 for third, etc.), but the distribution of points starts to narrow after that.

“In positions 26 through 70, there is less variation from place to place,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief of operations. “We tried to get a little closer correlation to the money list, but also to reward top finishes more heavily.”

For example, under the old system a 50th-place finish was worth 20 more points than if you finished 70th. Now, the difference between 50th and 70th is 5 ½points.

“By recasting the way the points are paid out, it places a greater focus on top finishes,” Pazder said.

Part of the Tour’s change is a result of the circuit’s decision to get rid of a money list exemption for players who didn’t finish inside the top 125 in regular season points but earned enough to rank among the top 125 in cash.

This season there are six Tour members playing out of the money list category, including Ken Duke who finished 120th in earnings but was 153rd in points in 2016.

“I’m not going to say points are going to perfectly overlap the money list, but we have six guys who are exempt because of money and we ran the new [points] model and it went down to one player,” Pazder said.

The differences between the two lists in the past were largely due to a points structure that remained unchanged for regular Tour events, whereas purse sizes vary from tournament to tournament.

A player who finished tied for 31st in back-to-back weeks earned the same number of points in the past as a player who finished ninth and missed the cut. But the player with the top-10 finish made $108,000 more.