The first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs gets underway today.
But how many events are there in the PGA Tour’s season finale and, more to the point, how does it work?
Allow us to explain…
First things first
The regular PGA Tour season, which began when Brendan Steel won the Safeway Open last October, concluded last Sunday with Henrik Stenson’s victory in the Wyndham Championship.
It comprised a total of 43 events and, throughout the season, players earned points based on their results in those tournaments. The top 125 ranked players at the conclusion of the Wyndham were eligible to advance to the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
What exactly are the Playoffs?
The FedEx Cup Playoffs, won last year by Rory McIlroy, above, are used to determine the overall season-long champion on the PGA Tour.
They comprise four events:
• The Northern Trust, Glen Oaks, Aug 24-27
• Dell Technologies Championship, TPC Boston, Sept 1-4
• BMW Championship, Conway Farms, Sept 14-17
• Tour Championship, East Lake, Sept 21-24
Do all 125 players play each week?
No, the field reduces in size after each tournament. All 125 players are eligible for the first event, the Northern Trust. After that, the top 100 players on the rankings can advance to the next event, the Dell Technologies. That reduces again to 70 for the third event, the BMW Championship, with the top 30 players after that eligible to move on to the Tour Championship. In the event that any of the players is unable to play - or chooses not to play - the field will be shortened. There are no alternates or reserves.
How do FedEx Cup points accrue during the Playoffs?
It’s pretty straightforward actually. Each player carries all points earned during the regular season through the first three playoff events. Each one awards 2,000 points to the tournament winner, with the remaining points distributed on a sliding progressive scale.
For example, Rickie Fowler, above, finished fifth on the FedEx ranking at the end of the regular season with 1,832 points. Should he win the Northern Trust this week, he’ll advance to the next event with a total of 3,832 points.
I’ve heard talk of a points ‘reset’ – what’s that all about?
It’s more straightforward than some people would have you believe. Basically, the top 30 players at the end of the BMW Championship – i.e. the Tour Championship field – have their points reset going into the finale event in order that every player in the field has a chance to win the FedEx Cup.
The No.1 ranked player going into the Tour Championship will still be the No.1 ranked player but will have his points reset to 2,000. That decreases on a sliding scale down to 115 points for the 30th ranked player. With 2,000 points available to the player who wins the Tour Championship, every player has a theoretical chance of winning the big prize.
How much money is at stake?
Each of the four Playoff events carries an $8million purse. There is also $35million worth of bonuses to be won. So, all in there’s $67million up for grabs.
Wait - $35million worth of bonuses? How is that divided up?
The overall winner of the FedEx Cup gets $10m, followed by £3m for second place, $2million for third, $1.5m for fourth and $1m for fifth, right down to $175,000 for the player in 30th place.
So, do the top 125 players retain their tour cards for the next PGA Tour season?
Exactly. Prior to 2013, this was determined by a player’s position on the money list.
What about the players who finished outside of the top 125?
They receive conditional status on the PGA Tour, which they can improve by performing well in the Web.com Tour Finals in September.