Having a playoffs for the PGA Tour is a great idea that keeps golf fans engaged after the four Majors are completed. However, it has been a challenge to implement a scoring system that allows all players a chance to win while still rewarding players for having a good regular season. The last thing you want is for a player to win 5 times during the year and then eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The second worst thing would be a point system that allows a player to clinch the Fed Ex Championship before the final tournament even starts. How do you balance these issues? The current scoring system has been adjusted a few times over the years and works well but it is difficult for the average golf fan to follow. Even the golfers at times don’t fully understand how the point system works, especially coming into the last few holes of each playoff tournament.
The third playoff round starts today at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms. There are 70 players left in the playoffs and there will not be a cut this week. The goal is to make the top 30 for next week’s Tour Championship. The winner of this tournament will receive 2000 Fed Ex Points which means every player has the chance to advance regardless of their current position. For example, Anirban Lahiri is in 70th place. If he wins this week he could end up in 6th place for the tour championship. Below are some “general” guidelines to look for this week:
- Players in the top 20 will likely advance to the Tour Championship.
- Players from 20-30 are above the cut line but are at risk if they have a poor week.
- Players from 30-40 will likely need a top 10 to advance.
- Players from 50-60 will likely need to finish 4th or better to advance.
- players from 60-70 will likely need to finish 3rd or better to advance.
Most of the biggest names in golf (Spieth, Johnson, Thomas, Matsuyama, Rahm) will make it to the Tour Championship but there are a few favorites that are close to or below the cut line. Here are some estimates on what will be needed for them to advance:
- Jason Day currently in 28th place, will likely need a top 30 finish to advance.
- Rory McIlroy currently in 51st place, will likely need a top 4 finish to advance.
- Phil Michelson, currently in 36th place, will likely need a top 13 to advance.
- Sergio Garcia, currently in 34th place, will likely need a top 18 to advance.
The points will reset going into the Tour Championship and will be set up so that the top 5 players control their own destiny. This means that those players will win the Fed Ex Cup if they win the Tour Championship. Anyone below 5th would need help. For example, whoever enters the Tour Championship would win the Fed Ex Cup if they win the Tour Championship as long as the person in 1st place finishes 3rd or worse. It gets complicated but that is the balance required to maintain the excitement into the last tournament.
PGA Tour Challenge: The PGA tour can improve the playoffs by finding a better way to illustrate the playoff point system and provide real-time scoring during the tournaments. The TV coverage needs improvement.