5 things to know about the Tour Championship’s unique format
As players converge in Atlanta to tackle the historic East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship, it’s important to note that this event will be different from what fans are used to seeing — and not just because of the lack of fans. The Tour Championship also has a different format from any other event on the PGA Tour. Here are five things to know about the Tour Championship’s unique format.
1. It’s an extremely limited-field event
The field for the Tour Championship is the smallest of the year — and it’s not particularly close. Just the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings qualify for the event, meaning that while the field might be smaller, it is still packed with talent. The field is so exclusive that a number of big-name talents did not qualify, such as Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth. But even without those stars in attendance, the field will be stronger than most for the season finale.
2. Players start with a handicapped leaderboard
In a truly unique format, players start the week with a staggered leaderboard based on their standings in the FedEx Cup. This means that Dustin Johnson will start the week at 10 under with a two-stroke lead over Jon Rahm, who comes into the week second in the FedEx Cup Standings. This continues down to the players who just squeaked into the event, who will start the week with a clean slate at even par.
3. It’s winner-take-all for the FedEx Cup
Since the players start on uneven footing, the event is winner take all for the FedEx Cup. Even if Mackenzie Hughes, who just barely squeaked into the field, comes from 10 back and wins the tournament, he will be the season-long FedEx Cup Champion. This quirk was introduced in an effort to appeal to the casual fan, who will now know exactly what the FedEx Cup leaderboard looks like in real time. The change also eliminates the possibility of an awkward duel trophy ceremony on the 18th green in the event that the Tour Championship winner is not the FedEx Cup champion.
4. Second year of the new format
The new handicapped leaderboard format is still in its infancy with this being the second iteration. Last season, Justin Thomas began the week with the lead, but he was supplanted at the top of the leaderboard by Rory McIlroy as he took the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup titles.
5. Largest purse of the year — by far
Even though the field is so small, the purse is the largest of the year with the winner taking home a cool $15 million. In all, the Tour will dole out $60 million in FedEx Cup bonuses by week’s end. The last-place money isn’t too shabby, either, with 30th place cashing a check for $395,000. Not too bad for a week’s work.