FedEx Cup: We look at the PGA Tour play-off system used to hand out $10m bonus

By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH.   Last Updated: 22/08/13 1:58pm

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Brandt Snedeker wins the 2012 Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

Brandt Snedeker wins the 2012 Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

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We've now entered the final stages of the golfing season in America, and after the quest for major glory it's now the time of year when the top players go in search of the untold riches in the FedEx Cup.

Well, it's not exactly untold, it's $10million, but it's the prize pot they all want to win and thanks to the way the play-off system works it means that almost anyone is in with a chance of scooping the loot if they can hit form at the right time.

Previous Winners

(pre play-off ranking in brackets)
2012 Brandt Snedeker (19)
2011 Bill Haas (15)
2010 Jim Furyk (3)
2009 Tiger Woods (1)
2008 Vijay Singh (7)
2007 Tiger Woods (1)

While you can argue the merits of such huge sums of money being handed out - it certainly adds a big slice of intrigue to the end of the season that maintains the intensity of the action with all the major prizes having been handed out.

Who can forget Bill Haas' 2011 victory when he played Hunter Mahan in a play-off for not only the Tour Championship but for a $10m payday - talk about pressure! And then he goes and plays that shot from the water hazard...

Tiger Woods tops the FedEx Cup rankings after the end of the 'regular' season, but with 3,059 points you can almost throw those standings out of the window with points for the play-off events being five-times more - meaning 2,500 points to the winner.


Jim Furyk singing in the rain as he's richer to the tune of $10m in 2010.

The idea behind pushing so much more emphasis on these play-off events is to ensure that plenty of movement up and down the standings is possible to maintain the excitement of the events - especially with progressive cuts being made.

Players will not exactly be crying if they fail to make the very top though, with $70,000 on offer just for making the first play-off event as one of the top 125 in the standings.

Kicking off with The Barclays in New York with the top 125 players involved, the field then gets cut for the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston (100) and the BMW Championship in Chicago (70), leaving just the top 30 to compete in the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

FedEx Cup Factfile

  • Introduced in 2007 as time a play-off system was used in golf
  • Four play-off events - top 125 make the first, then cuts down to 100, 70, 50 & 30 for Tour Championship in Atlanta
  • System modified in 2008 to ensure FedEx Cup not won until after the final event
  • Points awarded are worth 5x more than regular season events
  • All points added together and then the top 30 have points reset for the Tour Championship to give entire field chance of victory
  • Any of the Top 5 in standings will win $10m FedEx Cup if they win in Atlanta

Basically, all you've done up until this point in the 33-week season is irrelevant, as now is the time to play well if you want to pocket the big bucks - and there's $35m of them on offer in total for the play-offs.

Still, the PGA Tour wanted to ensure that the whopping jackpot could not be won too soon, so in 2008 the points system was restricted to make sure the FedEx Cup was not won until the final event.

Points reset

Now, all the points are reset after the BMW Championship and the remaining 30 players are grouped close enough so that technically any one of them can win the lot.

It is only the top five though going to Atlanta knowing that a win in the Tour Championship will guarantee them the jackpot, while the rest of the field must carry their calculators around them to see how they stand.

As we saw last year, it can throw up some odd-looking results, with Rory McIlroy winning two of the four events but Brandt Snedeker laughing all the way to the bank after winning Atlanta and therefore taking the money.

Tiger Woods is the only two-time winner and is also the only player to have gone into the play-offs ranked No 1 and stayed there to collect the bonus in the six years of the event, while Snedeker came from furthest back having gone into the play-offs ranked 19th.

So, as the weeks go on we'll not only be focusing on the top of the leaderboard but also in and around the cut line where players scramble to make sure they are involved in the following event to keep alive their hopes of taking such a whopping prize.

Facts and Figures

Points on offer for all four of the FedEx Cup play-off tournaments...

1. 2,500; 2. 1 ,500; 3. 1,000; 4. 750; 5. 550; 6. 500; 7. 450; 8. 425; 9. 400; 10. 375; 11. 350; 12. 325; 13. 300; 14. 285; 15. 280; 16. 275; 17. 270; 18. 265; 19. 260; 20. 255; 21. 250; 22. 245; 23. 240; 24. 235; 25. 230; 26. 225; 27. 220; 28. 215; 29. 210; 30. 205; 31. 200; 32. 195; 33. 190; 34. 185; 35. 180; 36. 175; 37. 170; 38. 165; 39. 160; 40. 155; 41. 150; 42. 145; 43. 140; 44. 135; 45. 130; 46. 125; 47. 120; 48. 115; 49. 110; 50. 105

Points will then be reset after the BMW so the Top 30 in the standings will enter the Tour Championship with the following...

1. 2,500; 2. 2,250; 3. 2,000; 4. 1,800; 5. 1,600; 6. 1,400; 7. 1,200; 8. 1,000; 9. 800; 10. 600; 11. 480; 12. 460; 13. 440; 14. 420; 15. 400; 16. 380; 17. 360; 18. 340; 19. 320; 20. 310; 21. 300; 22. 290; 23. 280; 24. 270; 25. 260; 26. 250; 27. 240; 28. 230; 29. 220; 30. 210

There's a $35million prize fund for the play-offs, which will be divided out as follows..

1. $10,000,000
2. $3,000,000
3. $2,000,000
4. $1,500,000
5. $1,000,000
10. $500,000
30. $175,000
70. $110,000
125. $70,000

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