How to improve the FedExCup: Gary Van Sickle Edition
By mustang6560 on 9/7/12
Back in the olden days, the PGA Championship — the final major of the calendar year — was the unofficial end of the season. Since the next major wasn't for nearly eight months, the majority of golf's elite usually began their off-season in earnest come late August.

In order to extend the PGA Tour season past the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour developed the FedExCup Playoffs to lure the game's best back onto the course with an extremely large carrot. And while the system worked — all of the top players are competing for the $10 million carrot — the format could use a tweak or two to make it easier for us golf fans to understand.

I offered my opinion last year on how to improve the format. And while I still like my idea, Gary Van Sickle offered up an idea that has merit too.
The points system, which changes every time the tournament standings change, might as well be a moving maze. What we need is a simpler scoring system. A player's FedEx Cup position should be determined by his cumulative score in relation to par for all four tournaments.
The crux of our idea is similar — how you play over the four rounds of the playoffs should carry more weight than how you played during the regular season.

In order to implement his idea, Gary said a few things would need to change.
  1. In my cumulative-score system, only players who completed all four events would be eligible to win the Cup and the $10 million prize.

  2. To determine the field for the first event, the Tour should use the money list.

  3. I'd eliminate the 36-hole cut at Deutsche Bank and let the entire field play 72 holes.

  4. Reward players who win a playoff tournament with an additional five-stroke bonus.
If the PGA Tour were to implement Gary's idea, the top 10 of the FedExCup Playoffs leaderboard would look like this.
1. Rory McIlroy (-26)

2. Louis Oosthuizen (-24)

3. Nick Watney (-21)

T4. Brandt Snedeker (-20)

T4. Dustin Johnson

6. Tiger Woods (-17)

T7. Kevin Stadler (-13)

T7. Lee Westwood (-13)

T7. Phil Mickelson (-13)

10. Brian Harman (-12)
The two biggest changes to the top 10 involve Kevin Stadler and Brian Harman. Since Kevin (T10 in the Deutsche Bank) and Brian (T5 in the Barclays) have played well in the first two rounds of the FedExCup, they would be T7 and 10th respectively under Gary's system instead of #32 and #51 respectively. Also, Tiger Woods would be sixth instead of third.

What do you think of Gary's system? Or the FedExCup in general?

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Image via PGA Tour

[ comments ]
sjduffers says:
This is just plain silly. This proposal assumes that every stroke below par is equal on any of the courses involved in the playoffs. [And if not, how could that system be deemed fair?...] This can't possibly be true as conditions such as weather, course preparation, etc... not to mention course design (length, hazards...) greatly influence the difficulty of a hole. Who would have thunk that there would be 4 players at -8 at Crooked Stick after round 1, and a whole bunch more under par.

The current system is not broken, so there is no point fixing it. Yes, it's a bit convoluted with the point system, resets, etc... but it's golf we are talking about here, and golf *is* complicated. If you can't deal with that, play eg soccer where the scores are usually extremely low and the rules simple. If that's still too hard, run the 100m dash. The rule is simple: hear the gun and run like hell in a straight line, and if you are any good, you don't even have to know how to count to 10! :)
Torleif Sorenson says:
After reading this twice... I think I like this idea - for the following reasons:

(1) is a fine rule. Hockey teams can't skip a round in the Stanley Cup playoffs, nor can cyclists skip the first few stages of the Tour de France. You either play, or you're out.

(2) and (3) are also good rules. If it's a playoff event, everybody plays 72 holes. You never know when somebody will come back from deep in the field to play well. Just ask the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, who went down 0-3 to the Bruins in their ECSF, then roared back in historic fashion to win the series 4-3 and go to the Final.

(4) This is another interesting and IMHO good idea, borrowed from the Tour de France. In previous Tours, the first, second, and third-place finishers in a stage got sliding time bonuses.

And if the purists don't want to screw with season scoring/stroke totals, then put a points system in place only for the playoffs - just like the points competition for the green jersey at the Tour de France.
Figs says:
I'm tired of the hate on the FedEx Cup. I know I'm in the minority but I personally love it. Generally, I don't mind the point system - if you play well, you're rewarded. My only complaint is that in the Tour Championship, if the top 5 aren't in it, nobody who's actually playing knows who's in line to win the $10M. Bill Haas didn't know he won last year until after he walked off the green. I'm not sure what the solution would be though - maybe another tournament with just the top 4 players? 1st - $10M, 2nd- $3M, 3rd - $1M, 4th - Nothin'. That would be easy to understand and fun to watch. Rory and Tiger duking it out for $10M? I'd watch that.
blackhawk says:
I like the current system for the most part. However, I feel if you finish in the top 10 in the tournament, you should automatically move on to the next round regardless of the points. If that bumps #70 or #30 out, so be it. That would give it more of a playoff feel and reward the hot players.
mjaber says:
I think different options are valid, as well as the current system. The only thing I dislike is being able to skip an event, or miss a cut during the playoffs and still being able to make it to the next event. The cut should determine if you move on, with the exception of -maybe- the top 5 from the season, and only for the first playoff tournament. After the first event, all bets are off. Miss the cut at the 2nd event and you are done. These are the playoffs after all.

I do like the idea of using the "relative to par" formula, and it carrying over from event to event. It rewards dominant victories, and is fairly easy to follow.
DoubleDingo says:
I don't get caught up in hating how something is ran, except for our country. That is the limit my political rant. I like the FedEx Cup format. You can't make it to top 30, too bad so sad. You can't win the $10,000,000.00, well better practice more and play better next year so you have a chance. Of course 2nd Place at $3,000,000.00 isn't bad either. Heck, I would be happy with 30th, that is almost twice what I make in a year. Sports athletes make way too much money.
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