Several years ago, the PGA Tour instituted the FedEx Cup to give an exclamation point to the end of the season. The Cup was based on the NASCAR system, which determines the champion of that racing circuit. The Cup has done some of what it’s supposed to do, namely keep fan interest alive and provide some drama at a time when interest in professional golf starts to wane.
Still, in 2012, the FedEx Cup has somewhat of an identity crisis: What, exactly, is it supposed to determine? The major championships all have their long-established niches, and the Player of the Year may well be someone other than the FedEx Cup champion. Contrast that to other sports, where there is a clear-cut champion at the end of each season. The NASCAR Chase winner is THE champion; there is no debate. Same goes for the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and NBA Finals winners. But winning the FedEx Cup means…?
Given golf’s somewhat random nature, where virtually anyone can win in any given week, it doesn’t make much sense that someone can come from 26th position, as Bill Haas did a year ago, and claim the overall championship. Sure, major championships are decided by who plays well in that given week, but the FedEx Cup is billed as a “season-long” event. Here is a proposed fix to make the “season-long” part more relevant, but with elements of a playoff that keeps some unpredictability.
Right now, points in the three “playoff” events (Barclay’s, Deutsche Bank, and BMW) are quintupled (5 times normal points). The points are re-set for the Tour Championship. While this makes the playoffs relevant, it over-rewards those who do well in the playoffs. Yes, we know other sports do the same thing, but remember, the FedEx Cup is supposed to be season-long. We propose a more modest doubling of the points for the first three events, and then tripling them for the Tour Championship with no pre-tournament re-set.
Remember the playoff between Haas and Hunter Mahan last year for all the marbles? How would you like to have that every year? Here’s where it can get interesting. After the Tour Championship, take the top four in points and have them engage in a series of three sudden-death playoffs: #4 vs. #3, the winner to face #2, and the winner of that match to face #1. The winner of the Tour Championship, if not in the top four, would automatically become the #4 seed, bumping whoever was there.
The integrity of the regular season would be maintained to a higher degree, and yet the excitement of the post-season would be in play, too, to a degree never before seen. This formula would give golf fans really something to talk about during football season.