Behind the Scenes at The Barclays

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Truth be told, Im still trying to wrap my arms around this 'Cup.' And believe me, Im not alone. Enthusiastic about something new and the possibility that it could be great? Yes. Perplexed about 'points' and tournament withdrawls? Yes and yes.
 
On Wednesday at Westchester Country Club I hosted the awards luncheon for the folks at Barclays after the morning pro-am. Good fun and a happy bunch of competitors who had a chance to rub elbows with some of the biggest names in this weeks field.
 
Open Championship winner Padraig Harrington stopped in for lunch ' with no strings attached - which was impressive. Vijay Singh as well, who ' from my vantage point - looked to tell more than a few good stories and signed more than a couple autographs for youngsters with a strong will and a good Sharpie. And so, too, did Ian Poulter.
 
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem was on hand for a short time, working the room, saying hello and chatting up the weeks first playoff event with those in attendance. He asked me if I was fired up for the event.
 
My response went something like this ' I actually am. It should be interesting to see how this thing works out.
 
It was as honest as I could be given some of the questions I have regarding the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
 
And as many questions as I have, there are also those who in the field who have questions. And plenty of them.
 
* Jim Furyk compared these playoffs to the NFL where only division winners and two wild cards from each conference make the playoffs as compared to golf where a whopping 144 make it. Do the percentages of the sports make-up of teams/players and golf suddenly seems strange. Hes right. 125 are exempt for next year but 144 make the playoffs? Just asking.
 
* Vijay Singh said in as many words at his news conference that he was a bit tired of all the hype about the FedExCup. And Im sure he didnt much enjoy the questions about Tigers whereabouts this week.
 
* Charlie Hoffman and D.J. Trahan were out at a restaurant early this week, sitting at their table and trying to figure out how the points worked and what each would have to do to get to the next event. Trahan is No. 115 and Hoffman is No. 46, which means Trahan needs a good week, and Hoffman will advance to next week regardless of whether he makes the cut. And given that the field is just 70 in Chicago for the BMW Championship in two weeks ' Hoffmans in good shape there, too.
 
Heres one for you: PGA TOUR models run before the season couldnt find a winner from outside No. 13 on the points list no matter how many times the computer tried to spit one out which doesnt bode well for guys like Hoffman and Trahan anyway - and players know it.
 
Heck, the St. Louis Cardinals got into the playoffs with the worst record among the playoff teams last year but won the World Series. So shouldnt number 144 in this playoff have a legitimate chance? (If he wins three in a row ' he might)
 
What I dont understand (yet) is why the fascination with points. Golf has always been about a money list. And why model it after NASCAR anyway? Im no NASCAR expert but in that sport Sunday payouts are quite different than golf. Drivers earn money for laps led and thus a guy who finishes 4th in a race could stand to make much less that a driver who a) won the pole or b) finished 20th but led far more laps than the winner of the race prior to a crash.
 
Tiger Woods should be rewarded for dominating the PGA TOUR all year. But as much as I see it being similar to a team like the Chicago Bears who ' because of the NFCs best record in 2006 - earned a first-round bye, I still have trouble with his absence. Woods may very well still win this thing.
 
In talking to players and media members ' who are all equally perplexed at this stage ' I cant help but wish it were just about the money.
 
So, thinking out loud, and having been bombarded with conversation this week in New York from players and media members and spectators, heres my early wish to tweak things for 2008 ' without this years first run having even reached the weekend.
 
1. Go ahead and re-set the MONEY after the regular season, giving the regular season money leader a bonus of $2.5 million for his efforts. But give him a head start on the rest of the playoff participants for the four playoff events with $500,000 going to his playoff money total. In other words, Tiger Woods starts at the Barclays with $500,000. To benefit the others in the Top 5 give them each $200,000 and everyone else starts at zero.
 
2. Top 144 on money list play the Barclays. Top 100 in money play the Deutsche Bank Championship. Top 70 play the BMW and Top 30 play the TOUR Championship. That head start combined with shear talent should allow for the TOURs biggest names to advance to the final event. Money is easier to figure out than points.
 
3. Player with most money earned after the TOUR Championship wins the FedExCup. Simple as that. But, as has been suggested, lets add some drama on the first tee of the TOUR Championship with a FedEx Ground Truck backing up to the tee and dropping off a stack of $10 million that goes to the winner.
 
My greatest concern is how Sunday at the TOUR Championship plays out. What if the leader of the FedExCup playoffs is in the 8th group of the tee on Sunday and nowhere near the lead of the tournament? Who gets the airtime? Whats more important ' winning the tournament or the FedExCup?
 
And what if it comes down to the last hole, and Jim Furyk needs a birdie 3 to win the golf tournament but just a 7 to win the FedExCup? Does he play to win or play not to lose the FedEx Cup?
 
Things you dont have to think about in the NFL, now do you.
 
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann