Your complete guide to the FedEx Cup Playoffs
It’s playoff season and for the next three weeks, the best pros on the PGA Tour will be battling out for *checks notes* $105 million in prize money.
The FedEx Cup today looks very different than the first one did back in 2007, when Tiger Woods came home with a measly $10 million, so this guide is meant to prep you for what this year’s edition will look like, with a brief history of how we got to this format.
This might actually be the first point of confusion, as the playoffs used to be four events, but with the PGA Championship moving to May in 2019, an opportunity was taken to end the PGA Tour season before the start of the NFL. So starting that year, the playoffs were shortened to three events.
Previously the first two events were in the New York area and at TPC Boston. When the playoffs were shortened, the first event alternated between New York and Boston, but new this year, the playoff opener is the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, which was previously a World Golf Championships event.
Here’s the schedule this year:
FedEx St. Jude Championship – Aug. 11-14
BMW Championship – Aug. 18-21
Tour Championship – Aug. 25-28
Additionally, each tournament has a progressively smaller field. The opener in Memphis starts with the 125 players who made the playoffs, but only 70 make the field for the BMW Championship, held this year at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware. Finally, only the top 30 in the standings qualify for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The format of the FedEx Cup Playoffs has been hotly debated since its inception in 2007.
There were iterations with points resets either just before or during the playoffs to create specific scenarios for the finale at the Tour Championship. This was done partially because Vijay Singh won the first two playoff events in 2008 and had essentially locked up the FedEx Cup by the time the Tour Championship started.
After that, points were reset prior to the Tour Championship to ensure if anyone in the top 5 of the standings won the Tour Championship, he would win the FedEx Cup. But this created potential scenarios where, because the first two playoff events are worth (currently) four-times more FedEx Cup points than other tournaments, a player could theatrically win the FedEx Cup just by having a couple high finishes in the playoffs, and potentially not winning all year.
This nearly happened when Luke Donald was third in standings going into the Tour Championship and finished just 280 points behind winner Jim Furyk in 2010, despite not winning a single event all year. Woods also finished second in the standings, just 41 points behind winner Justin Rose, in 2018 despite only recording one win that season at the Tour Championship. Bill Haas actually pulled off winning the FedEx Cup with the Tour Championship being his only win all year.
This has led to us to the current format, unchanged since 2019: The FedEx St. Jude and BMW are both worth four-times as many points and after the first two events, the standings are adjusted to become the starting leaderboard for the Tour Championship, which leads us to the next point.
The Playoff Finale
Starting in 2019, the final standings of the FedEx Cup mirror the leaderboard of the Tour Championship. This works because the Tour Championship is essentially handicapped.
The FedEx Cup leader gets to start at 10 under and then goes as follows:
No. 1 – 10 under
No. 2 – 8 under
No. 3 – 7 under
No. 4 – 6 under
No. 5 – 5 under
Nos. 6-10 – 4 under
Nos. 11-15 – 3 under
Nos. 16-20 – 2 under
Nos. 21-25 – 1 under
Nos. 26-30 – Even par
In the three years of this format, each winner of the FedEx Cup had at least multiple wins before the Tour Championship.
What’s at stake?
Lot’s of cash.
As mentioned before, Woods won a $10 million bonus for winning the first FedEx Cup. Last year Patrick Cantlay walked away with $15 million, but it’s the overall bonus pool which has grown even more. The 2019 format change saw the bonus pool ballon from $25 million to $70 million. It’s grown even more this year to $75 million with $18 million going to the champion.
Here’s the full payout breakdown:
Who’s leading the chase?
Ahh, finally we get to the standings.
The top-four in the current FedEx Cup standings all have three or more wins on Tour this season.
Scottie Scheffler has been atop the rankings since winning four of six starts in the spring, including the Masters. Thanks to his Open Championship win, Cameron Smith follows in second, more than 1,200 points behind. Sam Burns and Xander Schauffele each join Smith with three wins and round out the top-four.