by Jeff Skinner
So we are talking playoffs today and not the NFL playoffs, the PGA Tour Playoffs and the Tour Championship. The Tour finishes up its regular season this week when the 30 top point earners tee it up at Bobby Jones’ childhood home, East Lake Country Club.
The playoff formula was reworked this season to give more players a chance to win The FedEx Cup and provide more volatility throughout the playoffs. If any of the top five win the Tour Championship they will automatically win the FedEx Cup and the $10 million that goes with it. Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey all have their destiny in their hands: win it and you are the Fedex Cup Champion.
It seems a little odd that Hoffman could be in that category but the new points system has made any victory in the playoffs five times more valuable than a regular tour victory. A regular tour win is worth 500 Cup points. A major win is worth 600 points and a Playoff win jumps to 2500 points. Is a Playoff win more important than a major victory? Ask any touring pro on any tour, heck; ask any golf fan for that matter and the answer is a resounding no. A FedEx Cup Playoff win is important. It gets you a million bucks and all the exemptions that goes along with it but is it really worth more than a major? Only in the world of the PGA Tour Playoffs.
Each year the tour has tweaked the points system and this year they wanted volatility and they got it. Ernie Els had the lead in the points race from week 12 to week 33 with his two wins and steady play all season. When Matt Kuchar carded his first win of the season in the first playoff event, The Barclays, he vaulted to first place in the FedEx Cup points. Charley Hoffman was in 77th place at the start of the Deutsche Bank Championship. His win moved him to second place and he now sits in third place. It’s crazy but a guy could win three majors and be trumped by a guy with a hot putter at the Barclays because “Playoff Points” are worth so much more. It doesn’t seem right.
I understand that The Tour wants a more exciting month of play to try and steal some more viewers away from the NFL but this work in progress called “The Playoffs” is just that, a work in progress. Steve Stricker and other players have voiced concern over the points system and that there should be more emphasis placed on a player’s performance throughout the season. The Tour hasn’t got it right yet but at least they are willing to change the system. Maybe next year a major win will mean as much as a playoff win and the tour will find a way to reward consistent play by the players.