As the leaves were beginning to turn brown on an afternoon in September, Tiger Woods walked out onto the teebox at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia for the Tour Championship of the FedExCup Playoffs. As he eyed the course, it was the shine of the early-autumn sun, and later the shimmer of the prize trophy, which was reflected in the eye of the tiger. Today, almost seven years after its inauguration, the playoffs and the FedExCup Trophy are highly sought after by many players and lovers of golf.
The FedExCup Playoffs came out swinging in 2007 as the first playoff system in professional golf. In the end, the champion is the player who not only performs consistently well during the thirty-nine week “regular season” of the PGA Tour (October-August) but also during the playoffs. In 2007, and again in 2009, that athlete was Tiger Woods.
He had finished first in the 2007 regular season and Tiger Woods sat out the first event of the playoffs because he could still win the cup without it. In the season-long format, players can earn between 250 and 600 FedExCup points in each event. 600 points are awarded to the winner of each of the 4 majors with 500 going to every other PGA tournament winner, while the other players are awarded points based on their final positions. Twenty-five hundred points (five times that of the PGA Tour season) are awarded to the winners of each playoff event, and FedExCup points are added to points from the regular season. All players have to be in the top 125 to earn an invite to the playoffs.
The four playoff events to conclude the 2014 season are The Barclays at Ridgewood County Club in Paramus, New Jersey, the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston in Norton, Massachusetts, the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, and the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia.
In the final event, the field narrows to only 30 players (from 125 to 100 to 70 to 30). Then, points are “reset,” with the number one player at 2,500 points, the number two at 2,250 and so on, all the way down to number thirty at 210. At twenty-three under par, Woods won the FedExCup Playoffs of 2007 with the most points. He also knocked the tournament record out of the water with the third-best 72-hole score total of all time.
Two years following its inauguration, the FedExCup Playoffs changed its rules because of hiccups in gameplay. First, participants had to be awarded more points, giving them a greater chance to improve their position throughout the playoffs. Second, every qualifying golfer had to finish the final event before the winner could be proclaimed. This was due to the 2008 season where Vijay Singh was able to skip the fourth event because he had already earned enough points in the first three events to win. Also in 2013, FedExCup points became the indicator of “tour cards” for the following season (instead of position at the end of the year).
This year, the playoffs will have $32 million in prize money on top of a potential $35 million bonus. He already has two titles under his belt and Woods is currently only in 217th place (as per the current point standings as of August 8, 2014). Unfortunately he will not be competing in the 2014 FedEx Cup race. Henrik Stenson is the current champion.
Tiger Woods admits he never really dreamed about his name hand-engraved onto the FedExCup Trophy. But imagining the brilliant, sterling-silver cup with your name on it and cementing your legacy in golf history sure sounds like a dream.
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