The first major golf event of the year, the PGA Championship, is happening this week at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. During the first two days of the tournament, the golfers will be trying to win a major title, but the third-place finisher will get an automatic spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the four-tournament series that determines who makes it to the 2017 FedEx Cup Finals and who gets a spot in the Ryder Cup. For some golfers, that is better than winning the PGA Championship, because a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is worth more. However, for Jon Rahm, the third-place finisher at the 2016 PGA Championship, that wasn’t the case.
The PGA Tour decided to shake things up this year when they announced the FedEx Cup playoffs would be played through a series of nine events rather than a 12-week stretch. While it’s hard to argue that it’s the fairest way to determine a champion, it’s clear that the change is not without controversy.
The PGA Tour has been criticized for their playoff format, and Jon Rahm is a big supporter of the Open Championship being the last event of the year. Jon stated this in an interview with the media, “I think it’s great that the FedEx Cup is going to be the last tournament. I think that’s brilliant. I think the only reason it’s not the last tournament is because they want to keep their big stars on the course, but the best players in the world are going to have the best opportunity to win the FedEx Cup. I think the FedEx Cup is going to be a great tournament.”
Jon Rahm, more than any other golfer on the PGA Tour, wears his emotions on his sleeve. Rahm has never been shy about expressing himself, so it should come as no surprise that he didn’t hold back when questioned about the FedEx Cup Playoffs’ structure. Rahm, who may be in first position in the FedEx Cup standings going into the BMW Championship later this week, says he knows why the PGA Tour has the present structure in place but isn’t a fan.
How do the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour work?
Before we get into Rahm’s remarks, let’s go through how the FedEx Cup Playoffs operate on the PGA Tour.
The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings at the conclusion of the regular season progress to the first playoff event, The Northern Trust, held this year at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. The top 70 players in the rankings then proceed to the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. The top 30 finishers in the BMW qualify for the Tour Championship, which has been contested at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, since 2004.
The winner of the Tour Championship wasn’t usually the same player who won the FedEx Cup in previous years, something the PGA Tour didn’t enjoy. As a result, starting in 2019, they used the staggered-stroke system, which is intended to give those at the top of the standings an edge. The Tour Championship begins with the No. 1 player at 10-under, and scores drop from there as follows:
- No. 1: a score of ten points or less
- No. 2: an 8-under par.
- No. 3: a 7-under par.
- 6 under par (no. 4)
- No. 5: a 5-under par.
- 6–10: 4-under par
- 11-15: 3-under par
- 16-20: 2-under par
- 21-25: 1-under par
- Nos. 25-30: Par for the course
Following the completion of the four rounds, the player with the lowest score in relation to par wins the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize that comes with it. The bonus pool’s remaining $55 million is split depending on where one finishes in the standings, with the 30th-place finisher getting $70,000.
The PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs aren’t a fan of Jon Rahm, who claims the structure isn’t fair.
At Torrey Pines in the final round of the 2021 US Open, Jon Rahm | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
When questioned about how the FedEx Cup winner is determined at The Northern Trust, Rahm didn’t mince words, stating flatly, “I don’t like it,” and “it’s not fair.” And this was coming from a player who, at the time, was expected to finish first in the FedEx Cup rankings. We’ll return to it in a moment.
While he understands why the PGA Tour wants the drama of a winner-take-all event, the reigning US Open champion believes it is not the ideal method to crown a season-long champion. He then claimed he was instructed by a PGA Tour official to compare it to the NFL, but that analogy was quickly debunked (h/t Yahoo Sports).
“I’m a Patriots fan, and if your team wins everything and makes it to the Super Bowl but loses, you don’t receive the Lombardi Trophy, right? My response was that they still came in second. They must realize that golf is not the same as other sports.
“In the end of the day, you have a two-shot lead [at the Tour Championship] and you might win 15 tournaments, including both playoff events. I realize it’s for TV reasons and to make it more of a winner-take-all situation, and they give you a two-shot lead, but it can be gone in two holes over four days.”
Jon Rahm in the FedEx Cup Playoffs on the PGA Tour
This came from a player who was already in the top five in the FedEx Cup standings. And Rahm will very certainly be in the lead going into the BMW Championship.
Rahm was ranked sixth in the Northern Trust rankings when he arrived.
Rahm finished fifth in the FedEx Cup standings with 2,003 points entering The Northern Trust, behind only Collin Morikawa (2,171), Jordan Spieth (2,139), Patrick Cantlay (2,056), and Harris English (2,056). (2,039). Even if he doesn’t win, he’ll most likely leap above all four after the weather-delayed competition concludes.
During the regular season, tournament winners get 500 FedEx Cup points; however, winners of the first two playoff events receive 2,000 points. Second place is worth 1,200 points, third place is worth 760 points, fourth place is worth 540 points, and fifth place is worth 440 points.
Morikawa failed to make the cut at The Northern Trust, and as a result, he will lose his top spot. As the week progresses at Liberty National, Rahm is the only player in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings still in contention. So it’s a fair bet that he’ll start the BMW Championship on pole position.
But just because he’ll presumably enjoy the top position doesn’t mean he’ll alter his opinion about how the FedEx Cup Playoffs are handled by the PGA Tour.
PGATour.com provided the statistics.
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Jon Rahm is a rising star on the PGA Tour, and I’m sure his name would have been linked to the tour’s playoff events if not for a recent incident that has caused some controversy. The PGA Tour is a tour full of opportunities for young players to grow their game, and in the past that’s been the focus. However, in recent years the PGA Tour has considered making some changes to the playoff structure. The main point of contention is that the format is being changed to a best-ball format, which has been used on the PGA Tour for several years. In the best-ball format, the best nine players score in a three-hole aggregate score that will determine the winner. In other words, the. Read more about fedex cup format 2021 and let us know what you think.
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