The First Call Inbox

Do the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs need a facelift?

Ever since the PGA Tour's postseason debuted in 2007 there have been constant cries for change — and this year is no different. The First Call readers have some possible fixes

Tour Championship
The 18th hole of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

Question of the Week [Aug. 22-28): What changes, if any, would you make to the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs? 

RELATED: The First Call Inbox archive

This final needs to be reenergized. First thing to do is get rid of the silliness of starting the tournament with some players way ahead of others. That just takes my interest away from watching. I also like an idea mentioned on the Fried Egg this week — get the final away from East Lake. Have the BMW rotate around Chicago courses like it used to be. Then take advantage of some primetime viewing by having the Tour Championship rotate around the west coast. Harding Park would be amazing. 

Rick Wright
Alamo, Texas

The FedEx Cup scoring system seems terribly wrong and unfair. Are others dismayed by it? There must be a better way to stack the deck for past wins and past scoring. The scoring makes me not want to watch the championship at all. 

Kathleen Eaton
Raleigh, North Carolina 

I'd leave everything like it is until the finale at East Lake Golf Club. Then the top 30 play a 72-hole event for the same prize money they play for now with everyone stating at zero. That winner is the FedEx Cup champion. The guys who performed well all season will have been rightly rewarded. The guys who perform well in the first two events will have been rightly rewarded. At East Lake, nothing before can help except get you into the event. The fans would know what's going on (finally) and the PGA Tour playoffs would be just like every other sport.

Michael Schurman
Durham, Ontario

I like the Tripp Isenhour — and maybe others — proposal. Since there is really no Tour Championship tournament, the tournament is really the FedEx Cup Championship. I like a 72-hole tournament with a crowned winner on Saturday, then a 4-man match-play tournament with the top four point-getters playing on Sunday. That’s a lot of golf for four guys, but there is a minimum $18 million carrot at the end, and big money for the other three. I know TV doesn’t like match play for the fear of no stars making it to the final day. But you are pretty much guaranteed an appealing final with big stars. And those four rake in tournament money and FedEx Cup money. 

I am also in favor of the majors, invitationals and World Championship tournaments carrying more weighted FedEx Cup points than they currently do — 600 for a Masters win and 500 for a Hilton Head win diminishes the majors in terms of FedEx Cup points. 

Barry Duckworth 
Knoxville, Tennessee 

I tried but I just can't watch. I turned on the Tour Championship Thursday and Scottie Scheffler was 13 under, on Thursday. This under par setup is just too contrived and just plain stupid. Let them just play even up, no extra credit for having a good year. When you try to mix a reward for the year-long season and have a championship tournament at the same time you get a stupid result.

Joe Matula
Palos Park, Illinois

If I were the commissioner, I would eliminate the stupid format at the Tour Championship where the leader starts at 10 under and the field is staggered behind him. Secondly, I would initiate a cut at the Tour Championship, so after the second round the field would be cut to 15. After the third round the field would be cut to four.

Chris Ferrara
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

1. Discard the regular-season points position. Like other sports, all players start even each week.
2. Keep the three weeks, but consider tweaking the starting numbers — 125, 70, 30.
3. Major and multiple winners receive byes into the second or third week. If third, consider byes into the second week for a certain number of other top finishers in the regular season.
4. Tour Championship: Make it something special, not just another 72-hole stroke play. Include match play, but in my format — for spectators and TV — every player plays every day. Thursday and Friday, 36-hole stroke play. Top 16  qualify for match play. Others to continue stroke play. Saturday morning, Sweet 16 match play; Saturday afternoon, Elite Eight match play. Others continue third-round stroke play. Sunday morning, semifinals of match play; Saturday morning losers in stroke play for positions 9-16; Sunday afternoon, finals of match play; Saturday afternoon losers in stroke play for positions 5-8; others continue fourth-round stroke play.

Frank Mauz
Honolulu, Hawaii

The three-event money grab just before football season means nothing to me. I believe the majors should get more points to make them more significant, so Scott Stallings doesn’t have a chance to win it all like Billy Horschel and Bill Haas did in the past 

Jimmy O’Malley
Needham, Massachusetts
I believe that the LIV Golf league has provided some advantageous new ideas to professional golf and since I’m a senior golfer, I may have a different perspective.

1. Has everyone noticed that the first three winners of the LIV Golf events were older winners — I think all are in their 40s, and we know their names). Could the 54-hole tournaments be impacting those results?
2. We don’t necessarily need 72 holes to determine a winner of a golf tournament. After all, should all golfers have to be in as good of shape as a Tiger Woods or the world’s Strongest Man? Or, do we want to turn over this great golf legacy sport to the newest and youngest players who now play golf for a living and are willing to devote their entire life to pursuing their dream?
3. How much money can the PGA Tour make by having Thursday available for the public to watch golf tournaments?
4. The PGA Tour Champions has proven that 54 holes is enough to determine the winner of a golf tournament.
5. From what I’ve read, we may be putting a personal strain on our professional golfers by requiring them to be on the road basically all the time in order to qualify for many year-end events, including the FedEx Cup playoffs. It seems like another day off during the week would go a long way toward allowing the players more personal life while they still pursuing their careers.
6. I still believe that golf is more of an artistic sport than a substantial endurance test — 72 holes.
7. We are seeing the PGA Tour purses significantly increase and it appears that this trend may be occurring because of the bigger purses that LIV Golf is offering its players. If the PGA Tour has always had this kind of money available for these larger purses, why didn’t they make them available before LIV came along? What has the PGA Tour been doing with all of the funds that sponsors have been providing to promote the tours?
8. I remember reading that the PGA Tour pension plan is the best of all professional sports, and I hope that all of our PGA Tour golfers are able to take advantage of that benefit if they have been able to survive on the Tour for 10 years or more. They eventually appreciate the advantage of having a quality pension plan once their income earnings have subsided.

Howard Reelfs
Clearwater, Florida

Regarding changes to the playoff system:

Keep the current point system in place, with cuts of the fields at the first two playoff tournaments, but when the top 30 are established for the Tour Championship, that's it. Perhaps have a monetary bonus for the final rankings going into the Tour Championship, but get rid of the staggered start. It's hokey and contrived. If a player makes it to the final, he should have the same chance to win the FedEx Cup as the next guy. Win the Tour Championship, win the FedEx Cup. Easy.

The Super Bowl doesn't start with one team up by 10 points because it had a better regular season.

Chad Lareau
Edmond, Oklahoma

Most sports play a regular season by scoring points to jockey for position heading into the playoffs. Seedings, matchups, groups, etc. are then determined and it’s “win or go home.” The PGA Tour does it with a scoring system — that very few fans understand — to establish the top 120 for the playoffs. That’s where the scoring system needs to come to a stop.   

The top 120 who have rightfully qualified for the first round of the playoffs should play the three-week tournament using aggregate scoring. The second round would remain in place and the 70 qualifiers are playing with their scores carrying over from the first round. Then the top 30 aggregate scores from the first two rounds carry over to the Tour Championship.

The whole idea here is that every player starts on the same level from the start. Everyone, therefore, has to come and play his best to advance to the next round. No second chances and no backdoor slide in — which was evident with star players who have played poorly, and those sitting at the 31-40 positions may rightfully be in by playing consistently had their aggregate score counted. Adam Scott who scored very well and consistently this year with scores of 11 and 10 under, respectively, just sneaks in at 29th with the year-long scoring system. Aggregate scoring would have him going into the Tour Championship with the lead at 21 under. Using this proposed scoring method, the top 30 were separated by only 11 strokes — with no gaps in scoring numbers. All the players would have a legitimate opportunity to win — and the fans would understand that as well.

Erv Hildebrandt
Hamilton, Ontario

My recommendation would be to leave well enough alone. The current format works and I will watch with interest to see which of the two brothers, Scotty Scheffler or Xander Schauffele, will capture the top prize. 

Longshot with a chance to lift the cup is Cameron Young. 

Seen still scratching his head and exclaiming “Hey Mikey, did you see that flier?” I thought I could get my face on that ball. I should have listened to you buddy,” Jordan Spieth. 

Paul Vicary
The Villages, Florida

As a female avid watcher of golf for 40-plus years, I am a convert to watching the new LIV tour on YouTube.  No one has written an article about the positives of this tour. Players seem happy and are having a lot more fun on the course. The team aspect is pretty fun the way it’s formatted as a reset every day and it’s just so much more watchable.

I am so turned off by Golf Channel and network coverage that golf has become unwatchable and I’m wearing out my remote fast-forwarding through FedEx cup scenarios (in November) and humping their own programming. Plus, do I really need to see a pro make an 18-inch putt? Show more golf shots.

The big names play so infrequently, I find Rory McIlroy’s objections laughable since lately he’s been pretty good for 54 holes only. I am watching the players on LIV that I’ve enjoyed watching in the past, plus there are some pretty good players I’ve never seen. I get the objections, but I think a lot of folks are bashing it without ever watching it.  I can’t wait to see what else they come up with. I’m on team LIV as it makes me love watching golf again.

Gina Beale
Greensboro, Georgia

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