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Dublin: 4°C Friday 5 March 2021

FedEx Cup: What does Rory McIlroy need to pocket a $10 million bonus this weekend?

All eyes are on Atlanta where the Tour Championship tees off later today.

Image: Scott Heppell

What is the FedEx Cup?

The FedEx Cup is a season-long competition between PGA Tour golfers. During the “regular season”, golfers are awarded points based on their tournament finishes.

In August, the top 125 players in the standings qualify for the “playoffs” which run over four consecutive weekends. It all culminates at the Tour Championship which begins in East Lake, Atlanta later today.

What’s it worth?

The Tour Championship itself boasts an $8 million prize fund with a tasty $1.4 million of that going to this week’s winner at East Lake.

But the FedEx Cup is the big prize. It’s worth an eye-watering $35 million in total, topped by a first prize of $10 million.

That’s no small change, even to these professionals.

Who’s winning the FedEx Cup at the moment?

Chris Kirk. The American jumped up the rankings when he won the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship, late last month.


Does those standings matter?

Not as much as you’d think.

Why not?

In order to make this weekend’s Tour Championship as interesting as possible, the PGA “resets” all of the FedEx Cup points. Here’s how the top five looks after the reset:


So… who can win the big prize?

Anyone can — that’s the whole point.

Only the top 29 players in the FedEx Cup get to tee up at the Tour Championship (it should be 30 but number 30, Dustin Johnson, is on a “leave of absence.”)

Along with their $1.4 million tournament cheque, the winner at East Lake this week gets 2,500 FedEx Cup points.

Golfer #29 on the list, Gary Woodland, starts the week on 230 points so technically, if he won, he could jump to the top of the FedEx pile — but he would need an awful lot of other things to go his way.

Bottom line: only the top five — including Rory McIlroy — are in control of their own destiny in the race for the $10 million bonus.

If they win the Tour Championship, they also win the FedEx Cup. Otherwise we’re into the realms of combinations and permutations.

Will second place be good enough for Rory?

It could be but only if:

  • Chris Kirk finishes in a tie for fifth or worse
  • And both Billy Horschel and Bubba Watson finish in a tie for third or worse
  • And the tournament winner does not come from inside the top nine

McIlroy could conceivably finish third or fourth this week and still win but again, he’ll need a lot of his rivals to struggle.

Told you it was a bit complicated.

What are the rest of the FedEx Cup prizes like?

There’s $5 million for second place, $2 million for third, $1 million for fourth and $500,000 for fifth.

It’s a lot of money. McIlroy might have made $7.5 million in tournament winnings alone this season but someone like Cameron Tringale — who is currently 19th — has won less than $6 million over his five years on tour.

If nothing else, it should be interesting.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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