How do the FedEx Cup Playoffs work? Here’s everything you need to know

FedEx Cup Playoffs sign

The PGA Tour most recently updated the FedEx Cup Playoffs format in 2019.

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As you’re watching the storm-delayed conclusion of The Northern Trust on Monday, the first event of the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs, you might find yourself asking a simple question: how exactly do the FedEx Cup Playoffs work?

The format of the playoffs has changed multiple times over the years, so it can all be quite confusing to even a loyal PGA Tour fan. If you find yourself in that group, we’re here to help. Here’s everything you need to know about the FedEx Cup Playoffs format.

2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs format

The latest FedEx Cup Playoffs system first debuted in 2019. With the changes, the playoffs were reduced from four tournaments to three.

All season long, players are awarded FedEx Cup points based on their performance in official PGA Tour events (for example, a regular Tour event typically awards 500 points to the winner.)

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The Top 125 players in FedEx Cup standings at the end of the regular season-ending Wyndham Championship qualified for the first playoff event: this week’s Northern Trust at Liberty National, while those outside of the Top 125 headed home or to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

The Top 70 in the standings at the completion of the Northern Trust move on to next week’s BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland.

FedEx Cup points awarded at the Northern Trust and BMW are far higher than regular-season events, with the winner receiving 2000 points. In this way, performance in the playoffs is weighted more heavily than in normal events.

Once the BMW is complete, the Top 30 in the standings get to move on to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

How the Tour Championship works

The FedEx Cup standings are then used to set starting positions at the Tour Championship for the 30 players that make it that far. No. 1 in the standings begins the Tour Championship at 10 under, No. 2 at eight under, and so on. Players ranked 26-30 start the finale at even par. Once that is done, the standings and point system are abandoned, and whoever finishes with the lowest score to par wins the FedEx Cup and its $15 million bonus.

Kevin Cunningham

Golf.com Editor

As managing producer for GOLF.com, Cunningham edits, writes and publishes stories on GOLF.com, and manages the brand’s e-newsletters, which reach more than 1.4 million subscribers each month. A former two-time intern, he also helps keep GOLF.com humming outside the news-breaking stories and service content provided by our reporters and writers, and works with the tech team in the development of new products and innovative ways to deliver an engaging site to our audience.