The FedEx Cup: 6 Years on and Still Searching for a True Identity

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Brandt Snedeker poses with the FedExCup and TOUR Championship trophies after his three stroke victory clinched the cup during the final round of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola at East Lake Golf Club on September 23, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

We are now six years into the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, and the point system and general format are just as baffling today as they were back in 2007.

Brandt Snedeker’s sole win heading into this year’s Tour Championship came back in February at the Farmers Insurance Open. Since that time, Snedeker had no wins and just four top-10 finishes.

Snedeker tied for 19th at the Masters, missed the cut at the Players Championship, didn’t attend the U.S. Open due to a cracked rib he sustained during a coughing fit and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Snedeker’s biggest accomplishment of the 2012 season prior to the Tour Championship was a T-3 finish at the Open Championship, an event where he held the 36-hole lead and should have won.   

Does this sound like a potential FedEx Cup Champion to you?

Does this sound like a guy who had done enough to win the PGA Tour’s “season-long race” for the FedEx Cup?

Sure, Snedeker finished second at the Barclays and sixth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events, but he then posted a T-37 at the BMW Championship prior to making the trip south to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

Despite a good (but by no means great) season, Snedeker somehow entered the Tour Championship among the top five in the FedEx Cup point standings, which meant that he could secure the FedEx Cup title and a $10 million payday with a win at East Lake against a small 30-man field, which is precisely what happened on Sunday afternoon.

Rory McIlory won four times on the PGA Tour this year, including a major championship and two FedEx Cup Playoff events while also finishing 10th at the Tour Championship—now how is he not more deserving of the FedEx Cup title?

Tiger Woods won three times in 2012 with nine top-10s, including finishing in a tie for third with Snedeker at the Open Championship, yet Snedeker somehow had a better season than Woods?

The issue is that after six years, the FedEx Cup Playoffs is still suffering from an identity crisis.

It’s a “season-long” race…but it’s really not, because anyone can get hot in the playoffs and wind up winning the FedEx Cup.

It’s a “playoff”…but it’s not, because players carry points into the playoffs, and whoever wins the Tour Championship—what should be the PGA Tour’s Super Bowl or World Series if it were a true playoff system—does not necessarily win the FedEx Cup title.

Three years ago, Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship yet Woods was handed the FedEx Cup title and a $10 million check—go figure.

Four years ago, Vijay Singh needed only to remain among the living for four days at East Lake and he was assured the FedEx Cup title, despite the fact that Camilo Villegas won the final two playoff events.

Last year, Bill Haas’ sole win came at the Tour Championship. Heck, his win at the Tour Championship was actually his only top-10 finish during the entire playoffs, yet he somehow managed to capture the FedEx Cup title.

Now, the purpose of this article is not meant to be a complete bashing of the FedEx Cup, because after all, the current FedEx Cup system is far better than what we had before, which was nothing.

Prior to 2007, the PGA Tour season essentially ended with the PGA Championship, and we wouldn’t see the top players in the game again until the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup.

But even to true golf fans who follow the point system as if it were a religion, the FedEx Cup still seems as lost today as it was six years ago.

It’s neither a true playoff system nor a true season-long race—it’s something in between, and it doesn’t seem to know which direction to go next.

Until the PGA Tour decides once and for all whether the FedEx Cup is meant to be a season-long race or a true playoff, we will continue to crown winners which will have most of the golf world asking, “How in the world did this guy win the FedEx Cup title?”

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