By Torleif Sorenson on 7/30/14

Like it or not, Tiger Woods drives golf's television ratings. And if Woods is unable to pull off a Woods-ian miracle at the WGC-Bridgestone this weekend or the PGA Championship next weekend, the ratings could look bleak for the PGA Tour — and perhaps also for the Ryder Cup.

While nobody with a functioning brain is suggesting that Woods should not have had microdiscectomy surgery on March 31, the on-course results since then have, understandably, not been stellar.

On Tuesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters that no medical exemptions would be made for entry into the FedExCup playoffs, for which the top 125 players qualify.

Woods is currently ranked 215th, with just 45 FedExCup points. He needs 358 points to make the field for The Barclays. This essentially means that he needs to win either this week's WGC, where he has won eight times, or the PGA Championship at Valhalla, where he famously held off Bob May in a playoff in 2000.

Considering the controversial points reset of the FedExCup playoff system, it is admirable that Finchem is not willing to break Tour rules in order to get Tiger into the Tour's post-season. But how "rigged" is that system in the first place?

As John Hawkins points out, some unlikely scenaria have developed with the FedExCup points system:
  • Because Jimmy Walker has won three times on Tour this year, he leads with 2,364 points — despite the fact that he has not been in contention since March.

  • Bubba Watson, who won the Masters in April, is second at 2,135 points.

  • Jim Furyk, who has not won since the 2010 Tour Championship and who suffered a collapse at the Canadian Open on Sunday, is actually 5th in the standings, 170 points ahead of 2014 Players Championship and 2014 U.S. Open Championship winner Martin Kaymer. Incidentally, Furyk finished the Players one shot behind Kaymer.

    (And Furyk is still ahead in the points?? Are you kidding me??)

  • Patrick Reed, who in March touted himself as among the five best golfers in the world, has not been heard from since then. Yet, on the FedExCup points table, he is 66 points ahead of Rory McIlroy, who just got finished winning the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

At least for Tiger, the task for making the FedExCup playoffs — and very possibly the U.S. Ryder Cup team — is elegantly simple:

Win or go home.

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Image via Flickr, Omar Rawlings

[ comments ]
falcon50driver says:
Hey look at that, an advertisement for personalized golf balls over there on the right side of the page.
legitimatebeef says:
What a total charade. Most likely Tiger Woods cares about how he performs in exactly one remaining tournament this year. There is only one meaningful record to chase (well two but Snead's is almost a gimme by now). Even if he did not already have two of them Federated Cups I really doubt that he would give two shits about it at this stage in life. Same goes for the "2 teams, 1 cup" match which is probably nothing but a big hassle with the all the galas and fake team-bonding nonsense. Don't listen to what the man says--if he were to speak anything but the party line about wanting to get into the playoffs and the Ryder Cup, he would get positively roasted. You know it and I know it.
Torleif Sorenson says:
Beef, this is the kind of perspective I wanted to see in the comments. Thanks.
jeffcroupier says:
We can't blame guys like Reed and Walker for playing in the system as it stands. They played the fall events that many guys blew off, and guys like McElroy and Kaymer play some European events that don't give FedEx points... and Furyk doesn't play every week but it sure seems like it, piling up points... so... we can't be too grumpy about, oh darn it, these aren't the guys we want to *see* at the top of the rankings. It's a points system, not a poll.

The absurdity of the "playoffs" has always been late in the game, where you needed advanced math even during the final event to figure out who's winning the FedEx Cup. Someone (Van Sickle?) proposed just doing a four-event aggregate score, weighted right at the start with the season-long standings, as being easier to understand.
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