The FedEx Cup has been a success because it has coerced the world’s best players to tee it up for a four-event series after the PGA Championship, a time when the top pros used to hang up their clubs.
But the complicated playoff scoring system, as I’ve written many times before, needs to go.
Two years in a row, the PGA Tour has been lucky because dramatic finishes have overshadowed the murky points system. In 2010, Jim Furyk holed a putt in the rain to win the Tour Championship and the $10 million FedEx Cup prize. Last year, Bill Haas got up and down from the water and then beat Hunter Mahan in a playoff to win both the tournament and the Cup.
After the win, Haas asked a simple question. “So, who won the FedEx Cup?” He didn’t know, or at least he wasn’t sure. That speaks volumes.
The points system, which changes every time the tournament standings change, might as well be a moving maze. What we need is a simpler scoring system. A player’s FedEx Cup position should be determined by his cumulative score in relation to par for all four tournaments.
A few things would have to change to make this common-sense system work:
1. In my cumulative-score system, only players who completed all four events would be eligible to win the Cup and the $10 million prize. So players who missed the cut at the Barclays (like U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson) would be eliminated. Players who did not play one of the events (like Jason Dufner, who skipped the Barclays, or Sergio Garcia, who passed on the Deutsche Bank) would also not be eligible.
2. To determine the field for the first event, the Tour should use the money list. That’s simpler than points, and everyone understands it.
3. I’d eliminate the 36-hole cut at Deutsche Bank and let the entire field play 72 holes. Applying my scoring system to the current playoffs, the field would already be reduced to 41 players for this week’s BMW Championship. We wouldn’t need to send anyone home on Friday of the second event.
4. Reward players who win a playoff tournament with an additional five-stroke bonus. Nick Watney won the Barclays with a score of 10 under par. He’d get another five strokes for winning, so his FedEx Cup score is -15. One added bonus of this system is that a player can literally make up, or lose, 20 or 25 shots in a single week. So the winner will have to play the best golf over all four tournaments.
Here’s a fun look at how the top 20 in the FedEx Cup race would have stacked up going into the BMW Championship using my cumulative scoring system. (These totals include five-shot victory bonuses for McIlroy and Watney.)
1. Rory McIlroy (-26)
2. Louis Oosthuizen (-24)
3. Nick Watney (-21)
T4. Brandt Snedeker (-20)
6. Tiger Woods (-17)
T7. Kevin Stadler (-13)
T7. Lee Westwood (-13)
T7. Phil Mickelson (-13)
10. Brian Harman (-12)
T11. John Senden (-11)
T11. Ryan Moore (-11)
T13. Adam Scott (-9)
T13. Bryce Moler (-9)
T15. David Hearn (-8)
T15. Luke Donald (-8)
T15. Tom Gillis (-8)
T15. William McGirt (-8)
19. Greg Chalmers (-7)
20. Bo Van Pelt (-6)
T21. Bob Estes (-5)
T21.Steve Stricker (-5)