10 FAQs: Tour Championship, FedExCup Format

Justin Rose Wins 2018 FedExCup
Justin Rose takes a selfie with the FedExCup trophy after the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake GC on Sep 23, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

The TOUR Championship, the FedExCup’s post-season finale, gets underway on Thursday from East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

This year’s championship promises to be a bit less confusing but far more controversial as the Tour will institute what it’s calling a “starting stroke” format, where the top points’ leaders will open with a built-in lead.

For instance, Justin Thomas, a low scoring machine, will sleep on a Wednesday night lead of 10-under par, two clear of Patrick Cantlay (-8) and three ahead of Brooks Koepka (-7), while those ranked anywhere from 26-30 will start out even-par. (Good luck!)

With that as a quick table setter, here’s a list of 10 questions we addressed re: the new FedExCup Tour Championship format.

1. Will the win and positioning be considered official, meaning, if Tony Finau – for example, finishes net T8 but gross T16, would he be awarded an official top-10? 
Yes. The Tour Champion will be an official PGA Tour winner, and become the very first champion of a net handicap event. He will be awarded all kinds of exemptions, along with a $15 million “bonus.” And, yes, Tony Finau would walk away with another official top-10, despite a T16 gross, and the network broadcast team will tell us how close he is to breaking through, etc.

2. Will the player’s earnings be considered official money, i.e. money list, career earnings?
No. This is “bonus” money and should never be discussed. Delete this!

3. Will the Official World Golf Rankings award points based on net or gross finish?
The OWGR will allocate points based on each player’s gross finish, but list their finish as their net result. For example, if Justin Thomas wins but finishes 5th gross, his line would show a 1st place finish with fifth-place points. Hope that clear things up.

4. How come Tiger Woods won’t be defending his 2018 title?
Tiger did not qualify for the tournament. Yes, in the past 11 months, he won both the Tour Championship (gross!) and the Masters, but the PGA Tour does not give exemptions into its prestigious handicapped finale.

It’s the other way around, you see. If you qualify for the season finale, even if you didn’t win a single event (such as half the field), you are exempt into the Masters and Open Championship. But if you actually win a Green Jacket or Claret Jug, you’re not exempt into East Lake.

5. How come Shane Lowry is not in the field? Didn’t he win the Open Championship?
See above.

6. Instead of exemptions for major winners, why not just double the points for the majors? The money is already about double, as are the OWGR points. 
Ask yourself: Would this entice the top names to play more or less regular PGA Tour events? Next question.

7. How does the Wyndham Rewards points thing tie into all this?
It doesn’t. It was intended to provide “drama at the season-ending Wyndham Championship with top PGA Tour stars vying for $10 million in bonus money.” Except Brooks Koepka wrapped it up well in advance, and was “rewarded” with the $10 million via PayPal. Koepka thanked Wyndham with a text.

8. Does anyone really care about the FedExCup?
Of course. The PGA Tour and Federal Express.

9. Why would the PGA Tour ruin one of its flagship events with some gimmicky handicap format? Why not make the strokes (net) for the FedExCup and the gross finish for the Tour Championship title?
Solid question/suggestion. Just be thankful they don’t run the majors. Imagine how fast they’d re-purpose Amen Corner into some kind of confusing points promotional, while forcing CBS to mention it every 240 seconds.

10. Why not just make every Tour event a stroke format. For example, give similar bonus strokes to each of the top-10 ranked players in the field. This would guarantee a packed Sunday leaderboard each and every week, and provide insurance against all the no-name winners we had in the middle of the summer. TV nets would love it. Tournament directors would too.
Lol. Not bad! Touché.

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