Yet Another Idea On How To Fix The Fedex Cup

A post in the forums by GolfBookie has given me the kick in the pants I needed to offer my latest solution for “fixing” the FedEx Cup:

Drop the whole impossibly convoluted points thing. After the regular season is over, the top 140 get into the first round. After that, the field is reduced to 70. From the second round on, there’s no cut, but at the end of the second Sunday, the top 45 go on to the third round. After the third round, the field is cut to 22. The final tournament then would be a seeded (based on average finish in the previous three rounds) double elimination match play event.

In my mind, this solves two fundamental problems:

First, it gets rid of the points. If your playoff system takes a mathematician to explain, it’s no good. My head swims whenever I see a guy on The Golf Channel tell me that Player A wins the Cup if he finishes no lower than second, and Players B, C and D finish in a tie for third or worse—but that if Player E finishes eleven or higher and A through E finish T12 or worse, E wins. I can’t follow it. No one can follow it. It sucks.

Second, it makes the playoffs a real playoff. In the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc. playoffs, a team that doesn’t win is out. Period. There’s no system where you lose, but because you won by fifty points the previous week, your team still moves on. Lose, and you’re out. Drastic reduction of the field, with no points cushion increases the tension and increases the imperative to win.

I’m sure that the current system has been primarily to satisfy the need of advertisers to have stars in the field. But I think the Tour is missing a subtle point here: playoffs MAKE stars. Other sports are full of examples of good players who became Superstars with a legendary playoff run. A similar thing could happen to players in a wide open golf playoff.

Creating stars is a big problem for the Tour in the post Tiger era. As it is, the FedEx Cup just calcifies the current priority system. Think how terrific the buzz would be if the 140th ranked player fought his way through three rounds of drastic cuts, then worked his way into position on the final weekend. That’s possible under the current system, but with the points, quite unlikely.

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