FedEx Cup: Remembering the Slow Decline After the PGA Championship

Ben AlberstadtFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Bill Haas (R) poses with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem after Haas won both the TOUR Championship and the FedExCup after the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 25, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Do you remember Will MacKenzie’s thrilling victory at the Reno-Tahoe Open in 2006?

Remember Jason Gore’s compelling triumph at the 84 Lumber Classic in 2005?

Probably not.

Without the invention of the FedEx Cup in 2007, the golfing world would be treated to more of the same end of the season, snore-inducing golf. Not only are better golfers playing later in the season with much more at stake, but real drama has ensued. The obvious example of this is Bill Haas’ performance in his playoff with Hunter Mahan at last year’s Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup.

True, in the early 2000s, following the PGA Championship, fans of the PGA Tour had the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (NEC Invitational), the Deutsche Bank Championship and the Tour Championship to look forward to after the PGA Championship.

These three tournaments, though, in addition to the Ryder or Presidents Cup, were the premier events of the golfing calendar from mid-August through November. The fervor that PGA Tour professionals pursued victory seemed to diminish greatly following the PGA Championship. Players seemed content to coast into early November, as there was big money, but not much else to play for.

Post-PGA Championship golf has taken on an entirely different significance. The FedEx Cup Playoffs don’t build towards a fifth major per se, but they do present a fifth consideration for PGA Tour golfers. The playoffs reorient the schedule from “making some money before the end of the year,” to “making 10 million dollars for winning a trophy nearly as hard earned as the Wannamaker, Claret Jug, etc.”

Professional golf is entertainment. That’s not to say it’s always entertaining, but at its core, the PGA Tour exists to entertain fans, both those outside the ropes and on the couch. The invention of the FedEx Cup has added a layer of meaning, significance and drama to weekly play, which has enhanced the entertainment factor.

Remember, then, next time you’re getting tired of the endless tally of points and projections, the FedEx Cup Playoffs are vastly superior to the alternative.

That, and there’s Commisioner Finchem’s awkward trophy presentation to look forward to.