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In the swing: Is the FedEx finale really fair?

“It would almost be like if Wigan happened to beat Manchester United on the last day of the season and by doing so were awarded the Premier League,” writes Neil Cullen.

Webb Simpson celebrates after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, but will it really count come Sunday evening?
Webb Simpson celebrates after winning the Deutsche Bank Championship, but will it really count come Sunday evening?
Image: Michael Dwyer/AP/Press Association Images

THE POINTS STRUCTURE of the Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs means that all 30 players who will compete in the final event, the Coca-Cola Tour Championship at East Lake, Atlanta, have a chance of winning.

The reason for this is that points are reset going into the final. It is as if the entire season to date, and the points accumulated therein, amount to one big season-long tournament.

So for finishing top of the rankings, Webb Simpson’s 5,261 points are reset to 2,500. Dustin Johnson is in second place and his 3,841 points have been reset to 2,250.

So Johnson goes from being 1,420 points behind to only 250 points behind. To some, that might seem a little unfair. Instead of Johnson having to win and hope Simpson finishes outside the top eight, if Johnson simply wins, he will win the FedEx Cup.

In fact, if the points were simply to be carried over and not reset, only the top 6 players would have been in with a chance of winning, whereas any of the 30 players in the field can now win as it stands.

Fairness

The fairness of that is certainly open to debate. Webb Simpson has had two wins and 10 top-10s on Tour this year. Nobody has a better record this season and it would seem fitting that the most successful player of the season become the champion of the season-long tournament, the FedExCup.

I can’t think of another sport where a player or team can scrape into the final event of the year and then go on and essentially be crowned the player of the season.

It would almost be like if Wigan happened to beat Manchester United on the last day of the season and by doing so were awarded the Premier League.

Some would counter that argument by saying the FedEx Cup Champions and the Player of the Year are two completely separate things, but the Player of the Year doesn’t walk away with a nice $10 million bonus like the FedEx Cup Champion does.

There’s no doubt the current structure of the FedEx Cup, however, does make for great viewing on the final weekend. It makes every shot count and every player has a role to play.

The thing is though, is the viewer and regular golf fan intrigued enough by a once-off golf event outside of the Majors, or do we want to see the best player over the course of the year being rewarded by becoming the FedEx Cup Champion?

Is the average golf viewer fickle enough to disregard the golf they have been loyally following over the course of the entire season and put all their energy into one big event at the end? That’s essentially what’s being asked of them by the PGA Tour.

Take a player like John Senden. He has had no wins and only three top-10s in the entire season, but if he wins on Sunday, he has a very good chance of taking home the FedEx Cup if the results of other players go his way.

Surely one win and three top-10s in an entire season should not merit winning a competition that started over 6 months ago and spans almost 30 events?

A golfing treat

The PGA Tour has done much to try and get the system right. For example, when Camilo Villegas won the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in successive weeks in 2008, it seemed bizarre that even victory in the two biggest playoff events could not win him the FedEx Cup.

Some forget though, that in 2008, Vijay Singh also won two Playoff events — the Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championships — to add to the WGC Bridgestone Invitational that he had already won earlier in the year.

Statistically, Singh had a better season than Villegas and therefore, many would argue, was a more deserved winner.

There’s no doubt that we’re in for a golfing treat this weekend, and that the drama that unfolds on our screens on Sunday evening is going to make from some pretty tense and compelling viewing, but somehow you feel justice is not going to be served unless someone who has shown consistently good form throughout the season walks away with the FedEx Cup.

Read more of Neil Cullen’s golf columns for TheScore.ie here >

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