Last month, I proposed the idea of simply keeping cumulative scores, relative to par, for the entire four-week FedEx Cup race. The player with the lowest score after four weeks — 16 rounds — would get the $10 million. It’s less sexy than the current points system, perhaps, but simple and easy to follow, and it allows for big comebacks. I’d eliminate the season-long point standings as well, instead using the already-in-place money list to determine the 144 FedEx Cup entrants.
I’m bringing this idea up again because, like the PGA Tour, I have tweaked it. The feedback I got from the tour was mostly positive, but my plan raised one grave concern — it didn’t put enough emphasis on winning. A player who finished fourth every week could go home with the Cup. The tour wants, and would probably require, the FedEx Cup champion to have won at least one FedEx Cup event. It’s a valid argument.
So here’s the tweak: We still use cumulative scoring for the playoffs, but each winner of a FedEx Cup event will earn a six-stroke bonus. For instance, if Singh wins the Barclays with a score of 12 under par, the victory boosts his official FedEx Cup total to 18 under.
The beauty of using cumulative scores is that most margins of victory are one, two or three strokes. It will be very difficult for any player not named Woods to build an insurmountable lead or clinch the Cup early. It will also reward the players who play the best, round after round, for four straight weeks. Isn’t that what playoffs are supposed to be about — how you’re playing now when it matters, not what you did during the lengthy regular season?
There are two other scoring adjustments. First, players who miss the cut in the first two FedEx Cup events (the last two don’t have cuts) will suffer an additional three-shot penalty. Otherwise, on weekends when the weather turns ugly and over-par scores become common, those who missed the cut would have an advantage. Second, any eligible player who doesn’t compete in a playoff event receives a four-shot penalty. A player who withdraws mid-round also gets the four-shot penalty plus whatever his total was before he withdrew. You don’t want a player who’s eight over after four holes thinking, “I’ll just quit and take the four shots for missing the cut.”
Under this system, Singh would’ve arrived in Atlanta for the Tour Championship with a 12-shot lead over Camilo Villegas and a 13-shot edge over Jim Furyk. Eleven players would’ve been within 22 strokes. That sounds like a huge gap, but Singh shot nine over par in Atlanta. (With Cup in hand, his focus and motivation surely suffered.) Villegas would’ve won the FedEx Cup with a cumulative score of 43 under (34-under stroke total plus 12 bonus strokes for two wins and a three-stroke deduction for missing the cut at Barclays). Singh and Garcia would’ve tied at 33 under.
This system is also easy to tweak. A victory could be worth seven, eight or 10 shots. The missed-cut or did-not-play penalty could be six shots.
The current discombobulating points system just about guarantees that we’ll never have any reasonable drama. Under my cumulative scoring system, it’ll (probably) never be over until Sunday in Atlanta.