Six Ways to Make the Playoffs Better

Six Ways to Make the Playoffs Better

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K.J. Choi said if he won the FedEx Cup, he would donate the money to charity.
Hunter Martin/WireImage.com

1. SHOW US THE MONEY
Sorry, but they do deferred payment in baseball, not
golf. Not only are the fans confused by the $10 million
deferred payment that goes to the winner — not to
mention by how the rest of the $35 million FedEx
jackpot is split up — but so are the players, who are
just now waking up to the knowledge that a check
does not await them at the conclusion.

When,
at the recent Bridgestone Invitational, a
clueless K.J. Choi said that he’d
donate the entire $10 million to charity
if he won, Stewart Cink shot back, “He’d
have to get a loan.”

Adds 31-year-old
Tiger Woods, who’d have to
wait 14 years to get his hands
on his cash, “I may be dead by
the time my retirement fund
comes around.”

The bottom line here is
that cash is king. The Tour
could even emulate the
World Series of Poker and
have a big FedEx delivery
truck drive up to the East Lake
course and dump the $10 million
on the 1st tee. Is that hokey? No
doubt. Is it good TV? Absolutely.

2. WHY A MEASLY
$10 MILLION?

Want to make a splash? Supersize the
first prize to $25 million, cash. Where
would the extra money come from?
Easy.

The entire FedEx Cup purse is
$35 million. Right now all 144 players
who tee it up in the first playoff event
(and, go figure, six guys who don’t
make the playoffs) get a piece of the
pie.

Maybe that was a smart way to
get the rank and file to go along with
a shorter season, but the FedEx Cup
shouldn’t be a guaranteed payday for guys who can’t play dead.

This should be Smith Barney money — you have to ear-r-rn it.
Give the winner an attention-getting
$25 million. The
remaining $10 million is
divvied up among the 29
other pros who make it to
the Tour Championship.

The 114 guys who don’t
make it to Atlanta have
the regular purses in the
other playoff events as a
consolation prize, so they
have no reason to cry.

3. THE SPLITTER
The FedEx Cup is a season long event,
and one of its aims was to entice top
players to tee it up more often. Check
the 2006 money list and you’ll see that
the top 10 money winners averaged only
21.4 starts, with Tiger Woods playing
a bare-minimum 15. But the players
who ranked 21st through 30th in earnings averaged 26.7 starts.

How can we get the top guys to play more? We split the FedEx
Cup season into three roughly equivalent mini seasons. The
top finisher in each third is guaranteed a ranking equivalent
to 10th place on the reset at the start of the playoffs, and each
trimester runner-up is guaranteed the equivalent of 16th place.
(If someone finishes higher in the seasonlong standings, he
starts from the higher position.)

Splitting the season could be
a real incentive because the Tour’s own computer models show
that the FedEx Cup champion will most likely come from the
top 15 positions. Using the 2007 schedule, we’d end the first
third after the Shell Houston Open in early March. The second
third would run from the Masters through the Stanford St. Jude
Championship in June, and the final third would end with the
Wyndham Championship.

In theory, a player who gets off to a
good start on the West Coast might decide to add tournaments
and try to win the first third. Also, a split schedule would focus
attention on the FedEx Cup points race from the get-go.

4. BONUS BABIES
Using the three-miniseason setup described
above, bump up the FedEx points available at
the three tournaments that end each trimester
from 25,000 to 40,000.

The opportunity to
guarantee yourself a top 10 start in the playoffs
with one big week should draw a lot of players
into the field and heat up the competition.

5. DESIGNATED HITTER
There are 11 Tour events that Tiger Woods has never played for one reason
or another, and several more that are
routinely saddled with weak fields.

To
help those Tour stops out, we propose
that to be eligible for the FedEx Cup
playoffs, a player must enter at least one
of the following 10 tournaments during
the season: PODS Championship, Bob Hope
Chrysler Classic, Shell Houston Open, Zurich
Classic, EDS Byron Nelson Championships,
Travelers Championship, John Deere Classic, U.S.
Bank Championship, Canadian Open, Wyndham
Championship. Is that asking too much?

6. LEMANS START
Forget the points, the calculations
and the reset. Call this the
minimalist FedEx Cup for those
who think the current system
is too complicated: After the
PGA Championship, the top 144
money winners start from zero in
the Barclays and the Deutsche
Bank.

The 70 guys who win
the most money in those two
tournaments advance to the
BMW Championship. The top 30
after that event move on to the
Cup’s grand finale at the Tour
Championship.