The new format involves handicapping the 30 Tour Championship players from 10-under down to even-par. But are we on board? Mark Townsend and Alex Perry discuss in Alternate Shot
The FedEx Cup Play-offs format has proved to be quite the talking point among golf fans. So what do we think of the handicapping system that will see Justin Thomas begin on 10-under par before a ball has even been struck?
‘The FedEx Cup Play-offs format is weird but we might end up enjoying it’
“How did you sleep last night? How did you keep yourself entertained this morning? How are the nerves?”
These are the usual questions of a leader as he walks in to the property in his best sneakers and shades, writes Mark Townsend. Justin Thomas has been answering these questions since his win on Sunday night.
His build-up to East Lake has been one of looking at a leaderboard with his name sat at the top of it and 29 of his nearest and dearest staring up at him. He might have had a major season where his best finish is 6th but he is the one with a number on his back and he hasn’t even hit a shot.
If your glass was half full then you might see it as a nice little buffer, if you were anyone normal you’d see it as four long days without the usual requirement of easing your way into the tourney.
The Tour Championship is all very different this year and this is their way to spice things up. Everyone thinks it’s weird but none of us really know until Sunday night what might transpire, some of us might end up, like the flagstick in, quite enjoying it.
“I’m going to need to find a way to think about it because no-one’s ever dealt with it, and I definitely haven’t. I’m just going to have to try to play another tournament and act like everyone’s starting at zero and try to shoot the lowest 72 holes,” explained JT.
“I’m really, really going to try not to pay attention to the leaderboards because it can be easy to get wrapped up into it early.”
Which all sounds good but the leaderboards these days are vast and all-consuming with so much info. Just thinking of having to constantly recalculate of the ‘real scores’ is too much for me as a fan.
Imagine if clubs tried to recreate this, we’d all be basket cases.
- FedEx Cup Play-offs explained
- FedEx Cup prize money
- Tour Championship tee times
- Tour Championship leaderboard
‘There was nothing wrong with the FedEx Cup Play-offs format’
Do the fans really give a flying flip about the money? Oh look, some mega rich people getting even richer while we sit at home trying to mentally unscramble the format’s handicapped leaderboard, writes Alex Perry.
So no, I’m not on board. At all.
Rory McIlroy said it best: “Who knows what the winner wins at the Masters? I don’t know because that’s not what it’s about.
“If the FedEx Cup wants to create a legacy that lasts longer it doesn’t need to be about the money, it should be about the prestige of winning an event that you’ll be remembered for.
“The money’s great but I’ll get more satisfaction than from winning the golf tournament and playing well.”
I get they’re trying to make it like the play-offs in other sports but, for me, there needs to be a clear season-long winner – the league champions, to use a football analogy.
There was nothing wrong with what happened last year, where Justin Rose was rewarded for his consistency throughout the year and we got the Tiger Woods comeback story too.
Justin Thomas is in pole position to win 15 million big ones for playing well for four days out of 365 – and that doesn’t work for me.
So what’s the answer?
We chatted before writing this and decided what we would like to see is the season-long champion crowned ahead of the play-offs, then the top 128 go into a three-week matchplay knockout scenario to make them like proper play-offs. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?