FedExCup: PGA TOUR Playoffs
The FedEx Cup is the PGA Tour's annual playoff in which players earn points throughout the season to qualify, then participate in a four-event playoff to earn a $10 million bonus prize.
Golfers amass points -- based on their finishes in individual tournaments -- in the FedEx Cup regular season, which runs from January through mid-August. The top 125 finishers in the point standings advance to the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, a series of four tournaments that successively narrow the field and culminate with the FedEx Cup champion being crowned after the Tour Championship in late September.
The winner of the FedEx Cup receives -- along with the FedEx Cup trophy created by Tiffany & Co., -- $10 million from an overall pool of $35 million for participants, representing the largest single bonus payout in sports. The top five finishers in the final standings each earn at least $1 million each, with money awarded to the season's top 150 players in the final point standings.
The initial concept of a point-based system for the PGA Tour was announced in November 2005. It was designed to offer another competitive element to the sport and determine a season-long champion for golf's professional tour.
With FedEx as the competition sponsor, the FedEx Cup was first implemented for the 2007 PGA Tour season, offering a points race for participants similar to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in auto racing. Set up to combine a regular season in which players earn points with a series of playoff events for top qualifiers, the FedEx Cup would award the player finishing the season with the most points a prize of $10 million (among a much larger pool of $35 million in total winnings for participants).
For the initial season of the FedEx Cup, players accumulated points based on their individual finishes at tournaments in a 33-week regular season, and the top 143 golfers in the point standings qualified for the 2007 PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup.
The standings determined the players' seeds for the playoffs portion of the competition. Qualifiers' points were reset before the four playoff events, which featured a progressive cut that narrowed the field further after each tournament to determine the final 30 participants for the Tour Championship.
After five regular-season tour victories, Tiger Woods was in great position to secure the inaugural competition's trophy. He skipped the opening playoff event, The Barclays, but finished second in the Deutsche Bank Championship and won the final two playoff events -- the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship -- to finish with 123,033 total points and capture the 2007 FedEx Cup.
Two changes were made to the point system for the 2008 edition:
-- There was a narrowing of the gap between players' point totals at the reset going into the playoffs. For example, the gap between the first- and second-ranked players was 1,000 points at the reset in 2007. That gap was reduced to 500 points, with similar reductions being made all the way down to 144th place.
-- The number of FedEx Cup points available at playoff events was increased by 2,000 additional points per finish position. For example, a third-place finish that was worth 3,400 points in 2007 was worth 5,400 points in 2008.
The effect of these two changes was some improvement in a player's ability to make substantial gains in overall position based on stellar play in the playoffs, plus an increase in the number of players who would have a shot at winning the top prize in the FedEx Cup.
The modifications might have tightened the field in theory, but Vijay Singh won both The Barclays Championship and the Deutsche Bank Championship to put himself in control of the FedEx Cup after the first two playoff events. A 22nd-place finish at the Tour Championship after a distant finish at the BMW Championship was enough for Singh to claim the FedEx Cup trophy, besting Woods' point total of a year earlier to finish with 125,101 points and earn the $10 million prize.
The main change in format for the 2009 edition of the FedEx Cup moved the time at which players' cumulative points would be reset from the beginning of the playoffs to a point after the BMW Championship to give each of the 30 players who advance to the Tour Championship a chance to win the FedEx Cup title.
Harking back to his victory in the inaugural FedEx Cup season, Woods also captured the trophy in 2009. Despite missing part of the year to a knee injury, Woods won five regular-season tournaments and entered the playoffs atop the competition's point standings.
Steve Stricker finished second at The Barclays and won the Deutsche Bank Championship to take over the top spot. But Woods then won the third playoff event -- the BMW Championship -- to regain the lead, then finished second (to Phil Mickelson) at the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup's top prize.
The format returned intact for the 2010 edition, with the same point system and values from the 2009 competition. Matt Kuchar took home the first win of the playoffs with a victory in The Barclays, and Charley Hoffman followed that up with a title of his own in the Deutsche Bank.
Dustin Johnson took prime position in the following tournament, jumping to first with a title at the BMW Championship. But Jim Furyk -- not even ranked in the top 10 before the final tournament at The TOUR -- ended up taking the title with a one-shot win at the FedEx Cup's final event. It was the closest final to date, with Furyk and Luke Donald taking the win down to the wire.
Furyk had to save a bunker shot on the 18th to keep his narrow lead over Donald, shooting par on the final day and just holding off Donald's late rally. A bogey on his last hole would have meant a sudden-death playoff for the FedEx title.
This was Furyk's first FedEx win and 16th career win. Furyk had been ranked third in the FedEx standings before being declared ineligible for The Barclays, after his alarm clock didn't go off the morning he was scheduled to play in the pro-am. He became the second FedEx winner to take the tournament after missing the first event, following Woods in 2007.
The points reset came into play again in 2011, with none of the top five players entering the Tour Championship ending up in contention. And for the first time in FedEx Cup history, the champion was decided in a playoff. Bill Haas and Hunter Mahan were tied atop the leaderboard after 72 holes, with the winner guaranteed to take the FedEx Cup title.
After both players posted a par on the first playoff hole, Haas hit his second shot on the second hole into a water hazard. However, the ball was playable, and he recovered for a par, extending the playoff another hole. Haas took advantage, winning with a par to take home the title. He entered the Tour Championship 25th in the FedEx Cup standings, easily the worst starting position for an eventual FedEx Cup winner.
Each full-time member of the PGA Tour earns FedEx Cup points in every regular-season tournament he plays, based on the individual's finish in each event. There are 37 events in the FedEx Cup's 2010 regular season, which runs 33 weeks from January to mid-August. The number of points a player receives for winning a tournament ranges from 250 to 600, depending on the type of event -- with regular tour events awarding 500 points to the winner and the four majors and the Players Championship offering 600 to the winner. Fewer points are awarded to successively lower finishers in each event, down to one point for the 70th-place finisher each week.
After the regular season of the FedEx Cup is completed (ending with the Wyndham Championship for the 2010 edition), the top 125 finishers in the point standings move on to the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup -- a series of four tournaments that progressively narrow the field of participants and culminate in the Tour Championship in late September.
The PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup comprise these four tournaments:
- The Barclays (125 participants in field)
- Deutsche Bank Championship (100 participants)
- BMW Championship (70 participants)
- The Tour Championship (30 participants)
Players continue to accumulate points in this secondary stage, with each playoff event awarding points equal to five times that of a similar finish in a regular-season tournament. For example, the winner of a playoff event receives 2,500 points, rather than the 500 earned at a typical regular-season tournament.
Points earned in the regular season carry through the first three playoff events. But after the BMW Championship, the point totals amassed by the top 30 players are reset before the Tour Championship. The player topping the points list at that time will be reset to have 2,500 points, the second highest will have 2,250, with similar incremental gaps set up through the standings, down to the No. 30 player, who is given 210 points. This recalibration is made to ensure that each of the final 30 players has a chance to win the FedEx Cup title, yet also to offer the top players the best chance -- with each of the top five players assured of winning the FedEx Cup if he wins the Tour Championship.
The golfer atop the points list after the Tour Championship is crowned the FedEx Cup champion, receiving the top prize among bonus payouts to the 150 top finishers.
The 37 tournaments (over 33 weeks) that make up the FedEx Cup's regular season in 2010 are:
- SBS Championship
- Sony Open in Hawaii
- Bob Hope Classic
- Farmers Insurance Open
- Northern Trust Open
- AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
- WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
- Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun
- Waste Management Phoenix Open
- The Honda Classic
- WGC-CA Championship
- Puerto Rico Open
- Transitions Championship
- Arnold Palmer Invitational
- Shell Houston Open
- Masters Tournament
- Verizon Heritage
- Zurich Classic of New Orleans
- Quail Hollow Championship
- The Players Championship
- Valero Texas Open
- HP Byron Nelson Championship
- Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
- The Memorial Tournament
- St. Jude Classic
- U.S. Open Championship
- Travelers Championship
- AT&T National
- John Deere Classic
- The Open Championship (British Open)
- Reno-Tahoe Open
- RBC Canadian Open
- Greenbrier Classic
- WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
- Turning Stone Resort Championship
- PGA Championship
- Wyndham Championship
The top 125 finishers in the point standings after the regular season qualify for (and are seeded for) the Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup, which consist of the following four tournaments for 2012:
- The Barclays (Aug. 23-26) at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
- Deutsche Championship (Aug. 31-Sept. 3), at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass.
- BMW Championship (Sept. 6-9), at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill.
- The Tour Championship (Sept. 20-23), at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The golfer with the most points after the Tour Championship takes the top prize in the FedEx Cup and $10 million of a $35 million pool of bonus money (which represents the largest single bonus payout in sports). As of 2009, the runner-up in the final point standings received $3 million, with third place getting $2 million, fourth place earning $1.5 million and fifth place receiving $1 million, continuing on down to $32,000 for the 126th-150th finishers.
For the competition's initial year in 2007, the prize money for each finisher was placed into tax-deferred retirement accounts (rather than awarded as cash). But changes to FedEx Cup payouts were made in 2008, with the top 10 finishers receiving most of their prize money in cash, with a small portion still placed in tax-deferred retirement accounts. (FedEx Cup bonuses to finishers below the top 10 are still paid solely into the players' retirement accounts.)
In addition to the prize money, the FedEx Cup champion also is awarded the FedEx Cup trophy (created by Tiffany & Co.) and receives a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Winners of the first three playoff events receive two-year exemptions, and the winner of the Tour Championship earns a three-year exemption on the tour.
FEDEX CUP QUICK FACTS
Start: Aug. 22, 2013
First Event: The Barclays
Prize Money: $10 million
Players Qualified 125
2012 Champion: Brandt Snedeker