The stars of the PGA Tour have battled over the entire season and fought through two playoff events over the last two weeks. Now, all that remains is the Tour Championship at East Lake, the finale of the 2019 FedEx Cup Playoffs. But the lucky few pros who have survived this far will face a new Tour Championship scoring system and format at East Lake.
New FedEx Cup Playoffs format
The first change to the FedEx Cup playoffs format introduced this season has already happened. In the new system, the FedEx Cup Playoffs were reduced from four tournaments to three. After the 40 regular season events were complete, the Top 125 in the standings earned a spot in the Northern Trust at Liberty National, won by Patrick Reed.
The Top 70 players at the end of the Northern Trust made it to last week’s BMW Championship at Medinah, where Justin Thomas stormed to victory to set himself up for a shot at the FedEx Cup crown.
Following Thomas’ win, 40 more players were eliminated, including Tiger Woods. Now, the final 30 pros have gathered at East Lake outside of Atlanta, where they will play four rounds to determine the Tour Championship winner and the FedEx Cup champion. But the Tour Championship scoring system is radically different this year.
New Tour Championship scoring system
In the past, the Top 30 players in the FedEx Cup Playoffs also earned a spot in the Tour Championship. However, the event was played as a normal tournament, with all 30 players starting at even par, and the lowest 72-hole score winning the Tour Championship. Though performance in the Tour Championship counted toward a player’s point total, the FedEx Cup was awarded separately. That old scoring system allowed Tiger Woods to win the 2018 Tour Championship but finish 2nd behind Justin Rose for the FedEx Cup title last September.
This year, and for the foreseeable future, the winner of the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup champion will always be the same. Under the new scoring system, the No. 1 player in the standings will begin the finale at 10 under par. The second-ranked pro will begin with a score of eight under, no. 3 at seven under, no. 4 at six under, no. 5 at five under, nos. 6-10 at four under, nos. 11-15 at three under, nos. 16-20 at two under, no.s 21-25 at one under, and nos. 26-30 at even par.
From there they will simply play a normal 72-hole event with the lowest score at the end winning both titles. That means for the player ranked 30th to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, he’ll have to beat the No. 1-ranked player by more than 10 strokes.
Tour Championship scores (pre-tournament)
With the field set, we can look at where the players’ scores stack up on the Tour Championship leaderboard before the tournament begins.
1. Justin Thomas -10
2. Patrick Cantlay -8
3. Brooks Koepka -7
4. Patrick Reed -6
5. Rory McIlroy -5
6. Jon Rahm -4
7. Matt Kuchar -4
8. Xander Schauffele -4
9. Webb Simpson -4
10. Abraham Ancer -4
11. Gary Woodland -3
12. Tony Finau -3
13. Adam Scott -3
14. Dustin Johnson -3
15. Hideki Matsuyama -3
16. Paul Casey -2
17. Justin Rose -2
18. Brandt Snedeker -2
19. Rickie Fowler -2
20. Kevin Kisner -2
21. Marc Leishman -1
22. Tommy Fleetwood -1
23. Corey Conners -1
24. Sungjae Im -1
25. Chez Reavie -1
26. Bryson DeChambeau E
27. Louis Oosthuizen E
28. Charles Howell III E
29. Lucas Glover E
30. Jason Kokrak E
FedEx Cup bonus, purse and prize money
A silver trophy isn’t the only thing on the line at East Lake, a lot of money is at stake, too. The player who is crowned FedEx Cup Champion will receive a whopping bonus of $15 million. In addition, the Tour Championship win will count as an official PGA Tour victory, and the champion will receive a five-year Tour exemption.
The runner-up gets a nice pile of cash, too: $5 million. The payouts decrease as you go down the leaderboard, with eight players guaranteed to make at least $1 million. But no one gets left out; every player who makes it the Tour Championship receives a minimum payout of $395,000.
One obvious positive to the new Tour Championship scoring system is that there will be far less confusion about who is leading the tournament versus the FedEx Cup. With only one leaderboard combining the two races, it definitely will be easier for viewers to follow along. Although, there could be unforeseen consequences. Had the new system been in place last year, for example, Tiger Woods would not have won the Tour Championship, which capped his comeback season and set him up for major glory at Augusta in April.
Only time will tell if the new scoring system sticks around for the long haul.
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