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What We Learned: Tour Championship/FedEx Cup

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Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This week, we examine the different ways to win a FedEx Cup trophy and celebrate what the FedEx Cup has done for the end of the golf season.


 

For all of its quirks and fuzzy math, the FedEx Cup has become a vital and exciting part of the PGA Tour schedule. Yes, the points system could still use a few tweaks. And, yes, skipping playoff events to rest would be heresy to tough guys like Tom Brady and Ray Lewis. But the whole of the FedEx Cup is easily greater than the sum of its parts.

After Rory McIlroy’s eight-shot victory at the PGA Championship, the season somehow got even better. McIlroy and Tiger Woods shared a pairing in three out of four events. Phil Mickelson contended. Lee Westwood and Luke Donald had their moments. And Brandt Snedeker proved that you really do putt for dough – $10 million worth of it (plus the $1.44 million for winning the Tour Championship, but who’s counting?). I can’t wait for the Ryder Cup next week and, of course, the Masters in April.

But know something else? I can’t wait for next year’s playoffs. – Damon Hack


There is no secret formula for winning the FedEx Cup. Tiger Woods won as a culmination of his dominance;Vijay Singh won because he got hot at the right time; Jim Furyk won to clinch Player of the Year honors; and Bill Haas won as a darkhorse in the race. Brandt Snedeker? He was a beneficiary of the system. He wasn’t a dominant player or the hottest player over the past month, nor was he the best player this season or a complete darkhorse. He won because he earned the right amount of points in the right amount of time. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Timing is everything in this game. Snedeker simply proved it once again this week. – Jason Sobel


For all of the kvetching about the FedEx Cup points system, these PGA Tour playoffs continue to produce one of its intended goals: meaningful golf in autumn – a time of year that has always been dominated by football games and baseball playoff races. Sure, Brandt Snedeker sucked much of the drama out of the Tour Championship with a superb back-nine Sunday, and the final-round ratings won’t set Nielsen records, but so what? These FedEx Cup playoffs, now in their sixth year, were great theater, perhaps the best yet. Rory won twice. Tiger contended throughout. A popular champion was crowned. Another millionaire became $11.44 million richer. Maybe we’ll never come to accept the various permutations of the points race, and maybe there are more dramatic (and less confusing) ways to determine an overall winner, but this format isn’t half-bad. It sure beats the alternative: meaningless golf in autumn. – Ryan Lavner


That the FedEx Cup math isn’t perfect, it may never be, but the playoffs continue to produce compelling golf where before there was none, bringing together the game’s top players and generating drama, however contrived. Take it from Rory McIlroy, who has good reason to nitpick considering the pre-East Lake reset cost him $10 million. “It’s just the way it is. I’m not going to criticize the format. You have to play well every week,” he said. - Rex Hoggard