Q&A: Steve Dennis, the Tour's FedEx Cup points system guru

Friday October 3rd, 2008
Steve Dennis
Fred Vuich/SI

Ever since Vijay Singh locked up the FedEx Cup playoffs and the $10 million first prize three weeks ago, fans and critics of the FedEx format have been offering opinions on how the system might be tweaked. Here are the official final FedEx Cup playoff standings, plus two final results based on formulas that are much easier to understand. The first alternative, Cumulative Scoring, simply treats the four playoff events as one 16-round tournament. The second, Money Won, is based on each player's total playoff earnings.

Official Final Standings
Player Points

1. Vijay Singh 125,101
2. Camilo Villegas 124,550
3. Sergio Garcia 119,400
4. Anthony Kim 114,419
5. Jim Furyk 113,180
6. Mike Weir 113,118
7. Phil Mickelson 112,101
8. Justin Leonard 111,638
9. Ben Curtis 110,702
10. K.J. Choi 110,646
11. Kevin Sutherland 109,378
12. Dudley Hart 108,931
13. Ernie Els 108,475

Cumulative Scoring Standings
Player To Par

1. Camilo Villegas -34
2. Sergio Garcia -33
3. Anthony Kim -30
4. Jim Furyk -29
5. K.J. Choi -23
Ben Curtis -23
7. Justin Leonard -22
8. Vijay Singh -21
9. Ernie Els -18
Dudley Hart -18
Phil Mickelson -18
12. Mike Weir -16
13. Hunter Mahan -15\n

Money Won Standings
Player Earnings

1. Camilo Villegas $2,926,000
2. Vijay Singh $2,668,563
3. Sergio Garcia $1,725,500
4. Mike Weir $1,212,550
5. Dudley Hart $1,165,040
6. Anthony Kim $993,150
7. Jim Furyk $991,160
8. Kevin Sutherland $901,920
9. Ben Curtis $749,233
10. Ernie Els $749,000
11. Justin Leonard $706,906
12. K.J. Choi $664,500
13. Phil Mickelson $612,640

Steve Dennis, the PGA Tour's director of communications strategy, is the Tour's FedEx Cup points system guru. He discussed the current setup — and critiqued SI's Simpler Proposition to revise the FedEx format

SI: If you used our Cumulative Scoring formula instead of FedEx points, you would've had 11 guys within 10 strokes of the lead going into the Tour Championship instead of having Vijay Singh already winning the Cup.

SD: Having so many guys still in it would be good. That's something we want — the commissioner has made that clear. And the simplicity of Cumulative Scoring is good. But we feel we can't throw out the regular season and start fresh because the regular season, with the majors, is critically important.

SI: Maybe you need to get over that.

SD: It would be a significant issue to overcome. We looked at a lot of scenarios and knew that if a guy won twice, he'd basically have it locked up. Last year, Tiger didn't win twice until the Tour Championship.

SI: So it was good that Tiger skipped the first event?

SD: If he had finished top five at the Barclays, [the playoffs] might've been over early. Look at Rory Sabbatini last year. He had four top 10s but never sniffed a win. With Cumulative Scoring, you could easily have a guy like him win the FedEx Cup. NASCAR is fine with that, but in golf, winning is so important. People would be very unhappy if we had a FedEx Cup winner who hadn't won.

SI: Every plan has a drawback, doesn't it?

SD: Exactly. At the end, it's important to have a champion who everyone agrees is credible. It's also important to have four exciting events. The first two years of the FedEx Cup, we've had three but not the fourth.

SI: So are you considering junking the entire points system or simply tweaking it again?

SD: We'll look at everything. I think we'll discuss what you're proposing — Cumulative Scoring. We'll look at ideas that totally revamp the system; we'll look at ideas that don't do anything but maybe tweak the Tour Championship.

SI: Have you considered using cumulative bingo-bango-bongo points?

SD: You're the first to suggest that. It's something we ought to consider — then laugh out loud at.

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