The FedEx Cup: it’s like the World Series of golf, right?
Sounds like someone’s been drinking the kool-aid…
The FedEx Cup is a season-long PGA Tour order of merit event that culminates in a four-event series known as the Playoffs. The field for the Playoff events gets progressively smaller each week, moving from the top 125 players on the ranking in week one, to the top 30 in week four.
How does the FedEx Cup ranking work?
Players receive points based on their performance during the ordinary season. A win in a run-of-the-mill Tour event secures bags 500 points, second 300, third 190… and so on.
Once the Playoffs get underway, though, the points totals are dramatically increased, meaning, for example, that a win suddenly carries five times the value of an ordinary season victory.
The week one ranking quickly becomes obsolete.
This doesn’t sound quite right…
Well, the FedEx Cup is a made-for-television product, designed to generate drama predictably and, in doing so, allow the PGA Tour to gain a foothold in the autumn sports schedule. The current points system, which introduced the concept of an end of year points increase, was conceived of as a means of guaranteeing players couldn’t have the ranking in the bag by the time the post-season rolled around.
The problem is, they erred so much on the side of volatility that calculated points totals change significantly from minute to minute during the Playoffs, let alone week to week. The result is a strange disconnection between viewers, endlessly barraged with all the permutations and calculations from the FedEx supercomputer, and players, largely unaware of their standing while they’re out on the course.
Not only that, but the system presupposes that the best players are capable of flicking some sort of light switch and sustaining their best form for nearly an entire month at the end of a busy major championship schedule.
The world ranking is calculated over two years for a reason: golf is a game in which form is fleeting and unreliable.
So, all this focus on drama actually produces its complete opposite?
On one level, yes. It’s great to be able to rely on four weeks of quality fields and strong golf courses, but the convolutions of the system and the obscene scale of the prize money on offer make the Playoffs tough to love.
You didn’t mention the prize money.
Didn’t I? Victory in the FedEx Cup is worth a colossal $10 million.
I know. Even if you don’t qualify for the post-season, finishing somewhere between 125 and 150 on the rankings, you’re still guaranteed a bonus of $32,000.
There are few things quite as off-putting as watching millionaires duke it out for the down-payment on that new beach house in Malibu. It’s vulgar.
Seriously, get over yourself. How do I watch?
Coverage of the first 2011 Playoff event, The Barclays [sic], begins on Sky Sports 3 this evening at 8pm.