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The 2018/19 PGA Tour season comes to an end this week with the Tour Championship at East Lake.

But it’s far from your typical golf event.

Comprising the top 30 players on the FedEx Cup standings, the tournament has a unique format that has raised plenty of eyebrows.

Here’s a brief explainer…

How it works

The championship will be played over four rounds of strokeplay golf. So far, so normal.

However, every player in the field will begin with a pre-determined score based on where they currently sit in the FedEx Cup standings.

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Justin Thomas, whose victory in the BMW Championship at the weekend saw him overtake Brooks Koepka in the top spot, will start the tournament on ten-under-par.

The second ranked player, Patrick Cantlay, starts on eight-under. The extent of the head-start continues to decrease on a sliding scale all the way down to a group of players, ranked between 26th and 30th, who start the tournament on level-par. 


Here’s a full breakdown of how every player will start the tournament.

-10 – Justin Thomas
-8 – Patrick Cantlay
-7 – Brooks Koepka
-6 – Patrick Reed
-5 – Rory McIlroy
-4 – Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer
-3 – Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
-2 – Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner
-1 – Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Sung-jae Im, Chez Reavie
E – Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak

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Why has the tour done this?

The PGA Tour felt that, in recent years, the status of the FedEx Cup itself had been somewhat diminished by the fact that the winner of the Tour Championship didn’t necessarily win the ‘big’ prize.

In each of the last two seasons, for example, the winner of the Tour Championship hasn’t topped the FedEx Cup, which has created some confusion and, in the opinion of some, undermined the season-long competition.

With the changes it has introduced, the player who wins the Tour Championship is guaranteed to win the FedEx Cup, too.


The down side

In its attempt to manufacture a grandstand finish, the tour has potentially undermined the rest of its schedule.

For example, Rory McIlroy has had two wins and 13 top-10 finishes in 16 PGA Tour events this year. Abraham Ancer, by comparison, has had zero wins, two top-10s and missed cuts. Yet McIlroy has just a one-shot advantage over him in the FedEx finale.

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How much money is up for grabs?

The FedEx Cup purse has been increased this year from $35m to $60m – $15million of which will go to the winner. Here’s a breakdown of who gets what…

1st – $15m
2nd – $5m
3rd – $4m
4th – $3m
5th – $2.5m
6th – $1.9m
7th – $1.3m
8th – $1.1m
9th – $950,000
10th – $830,000
11th – $750,000
12th – $705,000
13th – $660,000
14th – $620,000
15th – $595,000
16th – $570,000
17th – $550,000
18th – $535,000
19th – $520,000
20th – $505,000
21st – $490,000
22nd – $478,000
23rd – $466,000
24th – $456,000
25th – $445,000
26th – $435,000
27th – $425,000
28th – $415,000
29th – $405,000
30th – $395,000

Interestingly, a top-5 finish this week is worth more money than winning ANY other tournament on the 2018/19 PGA Tour schedule.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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