The 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs: Accept It for What It Is

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23:  The FedExCup and TOUR Championship trophies are seen on the first hole 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

I enjoy the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Ok, I said it—but please hear me out as to why I have actually begun enjoying this monstrosity of a playoff system over the past several seasons.

The FedEx Cup was initially launched in 2007, and I spent the first four years more or less laughing at this so-called PGA Tour playoff system.

Tiger Woods decided to skip the first-ever FedEx Cup playoff event at Westchester Country Club and then went on to easily win the 2007 FedEx Cup title—hilarious. Could you ever imagine the San Francisco 49ers deciding to skip the first round of the NFL playoffs before going on to win the Super Bowl?

Things didn’t get much better in 2008. Vijay Singh needed only to remain standing for four consecutive rounds at the Tour Championship in order to capture the FedEx Cup title—this despite the fact the Camilo Villegas won two of the four playoff events. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.

And don’t even get me started on the point system—different events carry different point totals during the regular season with the majors and WGCs weighted more heavily. Opposite field events (those tournaments that take place alongside the majors and WGCs) receive half-points. Points then reset halfway through the four playoff events. The top five heading into East Lake can all win the FedEx Cup with a victory at the Tour Championship, while everyone else in the field has a mathematical chance to win if A, B, C, D, E, F and G all occur, while X, Y and Z don’t occur. Umm, yeah, I don’t have a master’s degree in mathematics from MIT so I have never, and probably will never, understand the FedEx Cup point system.

The PGA Tour’s entire messaging and promotion around the playoff system could serve as a what-not-to-do case study for any college marketing class. The FedEx Cup was first advertised as a “Playoff,” but then the tour quickly realized that it was difficult to call a series of events a “Playoff” when the ultimate winner didn’t even need to win the Tour Championship. The PGA Tour then began advertising the FedEx Cup as a “season-long race for the FedEx Cup Playoffs.” OK, so is it a season-long race or a playoff, or both? Now the PGA Tour is simply calling it the “season-long race for the FedEx Cup.” Fair enough. It only took the tour seven years to lock down the proper messaging around the FedEx Cup.

$10 million is being thrown at the FedEx Cup winner and around $30 million is given out in FedEx Cup bonuses just to get the top players in the world out of bed following the year's final major, while countless millions more have been spent on trying to promote the FedEx Cup over the past seven years.

Generally speaking, the FedEx Cup has been a spectacular disaster on so many levels. It is almost comical when you really sit back and dissect the full evolution of this “playoff” system.

But having said all that, I love the FedEx Cup, and I will be glued to my television for the next four weekends watching each playoff event.


Because I have accepted the FedEx Cup for what it is—four strong tournaments during a period of time when most of the top players in the world would have packed it in for the winter.

The FedEx Cup will never have any real historical significance. Fifty years from now we will not be asking “how many FedEx Cups did Tiger Woods win?”

The FedEx Cup will never be a true playoff system that in any way even reassembles those of other major sporting leagues.

The FedEx Cup events will also never even sniff the major championships in terms of their importance in the game.

We will never fully understand the FedEx Cup point system nor should we even waste another second trying to wrap our heads around it.

To me at least, the FedEx Cup has simply become four additional strong-fielded events that didn’t exist prior to 2007. As a golf fan, four more events where the top players in the world are battling it out on superb golf courses provides for some great entertainment.

After all, it sure beats what we had before—which was nothing.

There will undoubtedly be numerous articles written about what is wrong with the FedEx Cup and what should be done to fix the entire playoff system. This has become a yearly tradition unlike any other for sports writers.

And for golf fans, sitting around the water cooler criticizing the FedEx Cup and offering up all of your brilliant ideas for changes ain’t gonna change a thing.

The FedEx Cup will never be a true playoff, it will never rival the majors, we will never understand the point system and aside from Tiger Woods deciding to skip all of the playoff events in protest of the format, nothing anyone can do or say will change a darn thing about the FedEx Cup.

It is what it is, and the sooner you can simply sit back and accept what it is, the sooner you will begin enjoying these final four events of the year, just as I have.