FedEx Cup: It Doesn’t Deliver

September 1, 2008

I can tell you the No. 1 reason the FedEx Cup doesn’t have anything remotely resembling a playoff feel. There is no fear of elimination. At least, no elimination of anyone who matters. Yeah, the guy who ranks 131st in the contrived points list gets eliminated but so what? True playoffs, like in baseball, mean the best team from the regular season can get ousted in the first round (sorry, Cubbies). That’s tension, that’s pressure, that’s drama.
Last year’s FedEx Cup was an exercise in futility. The winner was always going to be someone who won one of the four FedEx Cup events or one of the top three point-getters. This year, with the points tweaked, I’m hearing players complain that it’s too volatile, there’s too much movement, and something is wrong if Padraig Harrington, who won the last two majors, is eliminated.
Yes, there’s something wrong. Harrington missed two straight cuts. He should be eliminated. That’s what playoffs are for.
And that’s exactly why the FedEx Cup will never be a real playoff. Creating a system with real eliminations raises the possibility that Tiger Woods could be eliminated early. The PGA Tour doesn’t want that. Television doesn’t want that. Tiger is the tour’s meal ticket. Let’s face it, he is the tour from the standpoint of public interest. This year’s FedEx Cup will prove that it can, in fact, survive without Tiger. But I don’t think anybody dares to try for two in a row. Until this format provides the fear of eliminations, it’ll never be a real playoff, just another friendly cash grab.