News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 18, 2007

On and Off the Course: Does FedEx Cup keep

By Jennifer Myers

TERRE HAUTE — Now that Tiger Woods has pronounced his 2007 season as “great” after his win at the steam bath that was The PGA Championship, is there anymore need to follow professional golf, or do we move onto football and to baseball as the pennant races heat up?

The PGA Tour is trying to hold our interest beyond the regular season this year by virtue of the FedEx Cup. We’ve all seen the commercials, heard the sports announcers mention how many FedEx Cup points something is worth, but have we really understood what was happening? I’ve had a “wait and see” kind of attitude about it, but the time is upon us now, so perhaps it would be nice to understand what the FedEx Cup is, and what it means to the PGA Tour.

The FedEx Cup is a new championship trophy for the PGA Tour. This is not a one-weekend wonder though, like all other tour events. This trophy is complicated by having “playoffs”, which are really a series of four events that players have to qualify for. I guess the PGA Tour figured that the NFL, the NBA, the NHL and major league baseball all have playoffs, so they should too.

Oh, and I can’t leave out the NASCAR reference. The point system used to whittle down the players to the top 144 is supposed to be something like NASCAR point system race. The point system is kind of like the top money list race, but by awarding points instead of going by they money list, inequities in sponsorship amounts are evened out. Throughout the 2007 season, every regular PGA Tour event awards 25,000 points to players.

The World Golf Championships will award 26,250 points, and the four majors and the Players championship 27,500 points. The winner of each tournament received 18 percent of the total points (the same percentage as a standard tournament purse breakdown), on down to every player making the cut receiving some amount of points. The goal is to be in the top 144 in points after the Wyndham Championship (going on this weekend). Those are the players who qualify for the “playoffs”. Points will then be reset with first place (Tiger Woods) receiving 100,000 points, second place 99,000 points, and on down until the 144th player receives 84,700.

The playoffs are a series of four events, starting Aug. 23-26 with The Barclays Championship. Players who make the cut get a percentage of 50,000 points with the winner receiving 9,000 points. Points reset and the following weekend, Aug. 31 — Sept. 3, is the Deutsche Bank Championship. The top 120 players after the Barclays will play in it.

Points are awarded again after the Deutsche Bank, and the top 70 points leaders go on to the BMW Championships September 6th – 9th. Next is The Tour Championship, the weekend of Sept. 13 — 16, where only the top 30 points leaders will compete.

The player who has the most points after the Tour Championship is the winner of the FedEx Cup, and receives a $10 million annuity. All participants in the “playoffs” will receive some amount of compensation. The runner-up will get $3 million, 3rd place $2 million, 4th place $1.5 million, on down to $30,000 for 144th place. The winner of the FedEx Cup will also receive a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour. Also, the winner of the Tour Championship receives a 3-year tour exemption, so it’s possible that the winner of any one of the other three FedEx Cup playoff events will receive the same exemption, although it hasn’t been officially announced.

Will this playoff system for golf do anything to boost golf’s fall television ratings, or will football and baseball be just too interesting? Will golf fans be burned out or hungry for more by the time the President’s Cup arrives, Sept. 24th — 30th, the weekend following The Tour Championship? Those questions are yet to be answered but experience tells us that much of the answer depends on how Tiger Woods is playing.

Television ratings are much higher when Tiger is in the mix. The FedEx Cup took a small hit this week when Tiger announced that he wouldn’t be playing in the first of the playoff events. With 100,000 points to start, he has room to spare as long as he comes back and scores some points in the second event. The FedEx Cup would not have a great maiden year if Tiger somehow missed the top 30.

The FedEx Cup could become a great event for the PGA Tour, or it might not work at all if enough interest is not shown from Tour players. However, with the winner receiving 10 million dollars, interest is pretty well assured!

n Quote of the day: “ I don’t know nothing about the FedEx Cup. I never was good at math.” – Boo Weekley.

Tribune-Star golf columnist Jennifer Myers can be reached at