by Jeff Skinner
So the boys on the PGA Tour get a week of rest before the big Playoff showdown at the Tour Championship. It gives them a chance to catch their breath and us a chance to assess the “playoff” format. These FedEx Cup Playoffs have given us plenty of excitement the past few weeks. Tim Finchem has played Dr. Frankenstein and borrowed pieces from NASCAR’S Chase, the NFL Playoffs and threw a little bit of golf into the mix and built the New and Improved FedEx Cup. I wasn’t a fan of this idea when it first debuted. I think the quality of the golf on the PGA Tour can stand on its own merits. With or without Mr. Woods the PGA Tour puts out a great product, unfortunately television ratings drive a lot of cash for the Tour and Woods drives the ratings. Finchem and the tour big shots wanted to broaden the tour’s appeal. So Dr. Tim Finchemstein went into his lab and came out with his latest version. I can’t help but think that while Tiger was walking up the eighteenth hole on Sunday on his way to winning The BMW Championship, the good Dr. Finchemstein was screaming, “It’s alive, it’s alive!” His creation was alive and well and probably giving him everything he wanted.
They were hoping to get all the top players to play all the events and they did. Woods won The Cup the first year by skipping one event and Phil Mickelson skipped one also. This year all the top guys played all the events, except for Paul Casey due to an injury.
Dr. Finchemstein wanted excitement and he got it. How is #124, Heath Slocum, sinking a putt on eighteen to close out The Barclays and shutting the door on Woods, Els, Stricker and Harrington who all tied for second place?
There wasn’t enough chance for players to come from back in the pack to win The Cup. Last year Vijay Singh had it locked up after the first two events. This year thanks to a new points system, just about anyone could make a run from anywhere. Case in point is Marc Leishman. He missed the cut at The Barclays but got hot and has a T15 and a T2 and sits in sixteenth place. He’s a rookie and his last top ten was back in May.
They didn’t want to dilute the regular season winners. If you had a good season but cooled off towards the end of the year the Cup Points you accumulated carried you into the playoffs. It has worked this year.
Drama, most of all Dr. Finchemstein wanted drama. He may have overdone it. Drama can be ugly as well as exciting. Just ask Brandt Snedeker when he four putted the final hole at The BMW to miss getting into the Tour Championship and miss out on a bus load of cash and free passes into the Masters, The US Open and The Open Championship.
Dr. Finchemstein got just what the doctor ordered. The top five in the points race are Woods, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Heath Slocum and there are twenty five other golfers waiting to take a shot at each other at The Tour Championship with a ten million dollar first prize. It’ alive, it’ alive!