Pro defends Tour Championship format, says absent Tiger Woods should ‘play better’

August 21, 2019

This week’s Tour Championship will feature a new scoring system and 30 Top PGA Tour pros fighting for the $15 million grand prize. What it won’t feature is 2019 major champions Tiger Woods and Shane Lowry. Many fans are disappointed, with some questioning the system that allowed this to happen. But Tour pro Billy Horschel isn’t having it. He says Woods and Lowry should “play better” if they want to make the field at the season finale.

Horschel, a former FedEx Cup champion himself, posted a series of tweets on Tuesday evening defending the playoffs system.

“Ppl would love for Tiger and Shane to be at Tour Champ but as the old saying goes, play better,” Horschel wrote. But to be clear, he’s not singling out two of the most popular winners on Tour. Horschel missed out on the Tour Championship as well, and he didn’t make an exception for himself. “Goes for everyone else who didn’t make it there. Me included.”

Horschel won the 2014 BMW Championship and followed it up with a victory at the Tour Championship the next week, handing him the FedEx Cup title and its then-$10 million bonus. Often under the old scoring system, one player would win the Tour Championship and another would claim the FedEx Cup title. Just last year, Woods triumphed at East Lake only to watch the FedEx Cup go to Justin Rose. In 2009, Tiger took home the FedEx Cup while Phil Mickelson settled for the Tour Championship trophy.

Under the new starting scores system, players will begin the 2019 Tour Championship with a score relative to their ranking (No. 1 Justin Thomas starts at 10 under, while players ranked 26-30 start at even par). Then, they’ll battle over 72 holes with the lowest score (including the starting scores) claiming both titles.

In 2019, Horschel finished in 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings after the BMW. Woods finished one spot above in 42nd, while Shane Lowry missed out on a spot at East Lake by three positions and just 57 points.

Interestingly, the format changes are not to blame for Tiger and Lowry (and Horschel) missing out on the Tour Championship. The regular-season FedEx Cup points system is much the same as it was before, as Horschel argued in another tweet, “To everyone who keeps talking about the points and how much is awarded in the playoffs. Let me make this clear. The points are the same they have been since 2015. They actually were reduced from 5x to 4x.”

For the most part this is true. The regular-season points system is largely unchanged from 2009, with PGA Tour winners receiving anywhere from 250-600 points based on the quality of the field. A playoff win is good for 2000 points, which is four times the average of 500 for a regular-season event.

While Tiger and Lowry’s absence from the Tour Championship field is clearly causing some controversy, the new scoring system for the event has the potential to inspire even more criticism. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out this weekend to determine if the new format is in need of further tweaking.

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.