So, here we are again with another edition of the FedExCup Playoffs, which used to be known as the Playoffs for the FedExCup, but branding being what it is these days – everything – the name change was instituted a few years ago for a concept that has worked quite well, in the balance, and should just be called a success.
Instituted in 2007, the FedExCup Playoffs have accomplished its primary goals, which were to make the end of the season consequential and get all of the game’s top players to buy into it and compete in this end-of-the-year blitz, which not only results in boatloads of money being passed out, but also results in more boatloads of money being passed out. We don’t say that cynically. If you’re going to have an end-of-the-year event, it had better be worth some extra loot. And it is.
Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way. The math didn’t work out quite the way the PGA TOUR had hoped, and we’re still not sure it works great when Hunter Mahan, winner of this year’s first playoff event, The Barclays, shot past Rory McIlroy into first place in the FedExCup standings. Mahan won his first event in two years. McIlroy had won his three previous starts, including two majors.
Talk about some top-heavy scoring in the postseason.
But the postseason is exactly that – it’s a whole new season. In most sports, other than home-field advantages, regular season doesn’t count for much once playoffs begin and everyone starts anew on even turf.
In the FedExCup era, this has meant some surprising winners. And some not so surprising, including former Memorial Tournament winners Woods, who is the only two-time winner of the FedExCup Playoffs, Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker are recent champions of the $10 million prize after winning the Tour Championship. But if that’s the Super Bowl of the season, shouldn’t the champion have won the last event?
The playoffs continue this week with the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, and defending champion Henrik Stenson, who also won the FedExCup title in 2013 when he also captured the Tour Championship, needs a similarly good finish. He lurks in 66th place in the standings. There are eight past Memorial winners still in the hunt as well. Matt Kuchar and Furyk are both ranked in the top-10 at Nos. 4 and 6 respectively. The remaining six are Justin Rose (No. 20), 2014 winner Hideki Matsuyama (No. 24), Ernie Els (No. 39), K.J. Choi (No. 69), Carl Pettersson (No. 93) and Singh (No. 95). Choi, Pettersson and Singh have some work to do if they want to continue their playoff run. Only the top 70 after the Deutsche Bank advance to the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills in Denver. The top 30 then qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
By now, everyone knows the drill. It’s a four-week fire drill of golf, actually, and it’s honestly quite enjoyable to watch. The cynical might dismiss it as a marketing gimmick, but so what if it is. The FedExCup produces good golf and good television and good winners.
That seems like a win-win-win scenario to us.