News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

September 23, 2012

ON AND OFF THE COURSE: FedEx Cup playoffs heating up

TERRE HAUTE — There is a lot of excitement brewing with professional golf on the men’s side right now, with the finals of the FedEx Cup playoffs this weekend in Atlanta to be followed by the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club near Chicago. TV executives had to be salivating over the upcoming revenue to be generated from the high-profile players who made the cut for the FedEx finals, and that many of them would also be playing the following week in the Ryder Cup. Of the top 10 players in the FedEx Cup, only Louis Oosthuizen and Nick Watney won’t be playing in the Ryder Cup.

The FedEx Cup, a year-end playoffs event for the PGA tour, was created to make some excitement, and I’m sure generate some television revenue. PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem must be thrilled with how well the playoffs are going, in their sixth year, the most exciting year yet. There are two reasons for that excitement: the big names that are still in the hunt, with the ability to win the whole caboodle, and the reset of points for the top 30, which is why those top players have any chance to win at all. If the scoring were still done the way it was in the beginning, Rory McIlroy would have had the FedEx Cup in a virtual lock by now, due to his two wins in the playoff events. (The closest player to him in points after the BMW Championship was 3,232 points behind.) Instead, he goes into the FedEx Cup with the highest amount of points at 2,500 which won’t be enough if any of the players ranked 2-5 wins on Sunday.

With the redistribution of points, first place gets 2,500, Tiger Woods who is in second, gets 2,250 points, Nick Watney gets 2,000 for third, Phil Mickelson in 4th gets 1,800, and Brandt Snedeker gets 1,600 for fifth. If any of those five win in Atlanta, they will also win The FedEx Cup. After third place, the points are decreased by increments of 200, so that 6th place gets 1,400 points, and 10th place gets 600 points. At 11th place, which received 480 points, points decrease by 20, until 19th place where they decrease by 10, so that the 30th player receives 210 points.

At the end of last year’s FedEx Cup, a very surprised Bill Haas claimed the $10 million in bonus money after winning the TOUR Championship (plus a million for the tournament too). He had come into that tournament 25th in the points standings, and 3,473 points behind first place. He knew that it was mathematically possible for him to win the cup with a 1st or 2nd place in that tournament, but that it took some players ahead of him faltering for that to happen. A win at Atlanta gave him 2,500 points, for a total of 2,760 points. That surpassed Webb Simpson by 15 points after Webb placed 22nd at the TOUR Championship, when he had started the tournament with the lead, but garnered only 245 more points.  (Just how big was that shot Haas played out of the water on the second playoff hole, to save a par and go on to win? BIG!)

The next two weekends are going to be exciting for golf fans. There is such a strong field for  the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola this weekend, great golf is going to be in abundance. And the Ryder Cup always gets our American competitive juices going. These players are playing for honor, not money. They’re playing for each other and for their country. It’s worth a lot more to them than anything money could buy.  Enjoy!

Quote of the Day: " “I don’t think we’re uncomfortable with that phenomenon,” PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem when asked about someone else winning the FedEx Cup besides Rory McIlroy, who has won two playoff events.

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