This cutthroat format would put the ‘playoff’ in the FedEx Cup Playoffs
Ed. note: Relax, it’s Bamberger Briefly, FedEx-style. Look for three installments express-delivered here during FedEx1 (Boston), another three from FedEx2 (Chicago) and three more from FedEx3 (Atlanta.)
The letter below, handwritten in its original form, was sent to GOLF.com via USPS. It took several weeks to reach us. A team of handwriting experts could not confirm the identity of its purported author, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. The document, in toto, is below.
Congratulations on qualifying for this year’s FedExCup, which will conclude our wraparound 2019-’20 season, as best I know. Although we do have two major events still to be played this year, the U.S. Open and the Masters. So I’m not sure exactly how this calendar accounting works.
It’s been a trying year but together we have persevered. #lifeinthebubble.
Some of you have posed challenging questions to me and other PGA Tour officials about how FedExCup points are awarded and its payout system as well. The question I get most is, “How does it work?” I do not regard it as a positive that some of our own people, here at HQ, feel compelled to call Steve Sands for various clarifications.
Annually, since our initial announcement of an end-of-the season playoff 15 years ago, we have looked to improve these playoffs, if at all possible. We now propose these tweaks.
I. Starting next year, the FedExCup will be a three-week, 216-hole competition. The winner of the Tiffany-made FedExCup trophy, and the $18 million first-place cash prize, will be the golfer who shoots the lowest score over 216 holes. Ties will be broken in sudden-death. Yes, to win you have to play all three events.
II. The top 125 points-earners on the PGA Tour qualify for the first FedEx event. No change there. But only the top-10 finishers on that list have a guaranteed a place in each of the three events. These 10 players will carry the designation The Untouchables, as part of new PGA TOUR sponsorship deal with ViacomCBS, which owns the rights to the 1987 Paramount film of the same name.
Some of you will be interested to know that the Chicago golf writer Oscar Fraley was Eliot Ness’s ghostwriter and gets a credit in the movie.
The Untouchables, all 10 of them in different degrees, will get a generous payout, TBD. Moreover, The Untouchables are not subject to the elimination system described below.
III. The traditional 36-hole cut is not in place for any of the three playoff events. Each of the first 10 rounds will bring both excitement and heartbreak via a new system proposed here. The medalist (or joint medalist) from each of the first 10 rounds is guaranteed to play all 216 holes. That’s the exciting part.
As for the heartbreak, after each of the first 10 rounds, players shooting the worst eight scores, plus ties, will be eliminated from the playoffs. However, if you are an Untouchable, or a Daily Winner, even if you are among the bottom eight, your home for each round is secure.
It’s a playoff, people.
We expect to lose about 8 to 10 players per day. So when we start the first week with 125 players, we expect to have about 85 players advance to the second week. At the end of the second week, we expect to have about 50 players advance to the third week. We expect to have about 36 players qualify for the final weekend, at the TOUR Championship.
According to statistical models developed by Steve Sands, I am proud to say in conjunction with some of our people, the chances of the same player winning both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup playoff is about 3.14 percent.
We kindly ask you to not use the phrase “free money” when discussing the FedExCup payouts with friends, family and media representatives.
Michael Bamberger may be reached at Michael_Bamberger@Golf.com