In most sports, everything that occurs during the season is a stepping stone, building to an exciting, grand and often lucrative finish. A championship. A way to crown the best team or individual, not just of any given weekend, but of the entire long and hard-fought season. However, for much of the history of golf, this pinnacle of achievement was lacking. Of course, the Majors were then and still remain the most important tournaments in the sport and it is unlikely that any other competition will be able to change that. But in the past, once the majors had come and gone, the golf season just petered out. Little recognition was given to the player who had performed the best day-after-day, week-after-week. Well, in 2007 that all changed.
With the introduction of the FedExCup, golf finally had its season-long championship. Under the current format, players accrue points throughout the season based on their performance every week. At the end of the season, the top 125 players on the FedExCup points list qualify for The Barclays, the first tournament of the playoffs. Following this first leg, the top 100 players on the points list move on to the Deutsche Bank Championship, with the top 70 players following this tournament moving on to the BMW Championship. Finally, those players who find themselves in the top 30 on the points list after the BMW move on to the big show: the Tour Championship, but not before the points are adjusted, giving everyone a mathematical chance at winning the title heading into the last tournament of the season.
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This point reset means that the top five players in the FedExCup standings control their own destiny heading into the TOUR Championship. This year those players are Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Paul Casey. None of these players have won the FedExCup before, meaning they could all end this week with the biggest payday of their careers. In fact, Jordan Spieth (2015) and Brandt Snedeker (2012) are the only past FedExCup Champions that made it to East Lake and they will aim to join the one-and-only Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) as the only two-time winner of the competition. An interesting side note: for the first time in the history of the FedExCup playoffs, two PGA Tour rookies have made the final tournament of the season. Both Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and South Korea’s Si Woo Kim will try to become the first rookie to call himself FedExCup Champion.
Heading into this week ranked first, Dustin Johnson is a strong favorite. Four times in the history of the playoffs the winner of the BMW Championship has gone on to win the Tour Championship. However, one of the occasions where the winner of the BMW did not succeed in the season’s final event was in fact Dustin Johnson in 2011. This previous failure combined with East Lake’s prioritization of Driving Accuracy over Driving Distance, means the Tour’s 135th most accurate driver may struggle. A ‘dark-horse’ candidate to lift the trophy on Sunday is the rookie Emiliano Grillo. Ranked inside the top-20 in Driving Accuracy and sitting 9th in the FedExCup standings, Grillo is well poised to finish the season as the FedExCup Champion if one of the players in the top-5 can’t get the job done.
The FedExCup playoff has been an exciting addition to the world of golf since its introduction in 2007. With the world’s greatest competing for $10,000,000 and a year’s worth of bragging rights, the PGA Tour finally has the championship it has always deserved. Who do you think will be crowned champion on Sunday? Let us know in the comment section below.
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