Ideas to improve the FedEx Cup playoffs


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?