What You Need To Know
FedEx Cup Playoffs 2021: Frequently Asked Questions
Kevin C. Cox
After a hectic 2020-21 "superseason" that involved 47 tour stops, five players winning for the first time in more than seven years, six players winning multiple times and one player becoming the game's oldest major champion, we've arrived at the finish—the FedEx Cup Playoffs. And with that, it’s time to determine a season-long champion, and hand out quite a bit of dough as well.
In 2019, the playoffs took on their biggest and most radical alterations since their inception in 2007. The number of events was reduced from four to three and the Tour Championship format changed so that the winner of the tournament at East Lake in Atlanta was also automatically the FedEx Cup champion.
For a refresher on how the playoffs work, here are answers to some questions that will help you understand what’s in store as the tour crowns its next FedEx Cup champion.
When are the FedEx Cup Playoffs played?
Here is the three tournament schedule:
The Northern Trust, Liberty National, Jersey City, N.J., Aug. 19-22
BMW Championship, Caves Valley G.C., Owings Mills, Md., Aug. 26-29
Tour Championship, East Lake G.C., Atlanta, Sept. 2-5
How many golfers will play in each of the three events?
The top 125 players off the FedEx Cup points list are in the field at The Northern Trust. That number decreases to 70 for the BMW Championship. The top 30 will then advance from Caves Valley to Atlanta for the Tour Championship, the traditional conclusion of the season.
You mentioned the big change in the format for the Tour Championship. Remind us again: How is the actual FedEx Cup winner is decided?
OK, so instead of all 30 players starting with the same score when they compete at the Tour Championship, players are now staggered by strokes based on where they stand in the FedEx Cup points list coming into East Lake. The No. 1-ranked player begins the final tournament at 10 under par, with the No. 2 player at eight under, and then seven under, six under and five under for Nos. 3-5. Nos. 6-10 start at four under; Nos. 11-15 start at three under; Nos. 16-20 start at two under; Nos. 21-25 start at one under; and Nos. 26-30 start at even par. The individual with the best score after the stroke adjustment—not merely the best 72-hole score—will be the winner of the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.
So there are no separate winners of the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup anymore?
Nope … that’s why the change was made, to help eliminate the confusion of somebody winning the tournament at East Lake but not being the actual FedEx Cup champion. In fact, there is no longer a separate purse for the Tour Championship.
Were there two winners a lot?
In the first 12 years of the Playoffs, it happened four times, including 2017 and 2018. Remember Tiger Woods’ win at the Tour Championship in 2018? Well, it was Justin Rose who took home the FedEx Cup. Given how frequently this was happening, tour officials decided they needed an alternative to simplify the race for the FedEx Cup title.
Does winning the Tour Championship count for a player’s victory total?
Yes. It still counts for the PGA Tour’s records.
At the end of the PGA Tour's regular season, Collin Morikawa held the No. 1 on the FedEx Cup points lists with 2,171 points, followed by Jordan Spieth (2,139), Patrick Cantlay (2,056), Harris English (2,039) and Jon Rahm (2,003).
Click here for a complete list of the rankings.
Do points from the regular season carry over into the playoffs?
Yes. And then any points earned in the first two FedEx Cup playoff events are added to a players' regular-season points to get their new place on the FedEx Cup points list each week.
How are the points earned different in the playoffs compared to the regular season?
As you might imagine, a premium is given to players who win/play well in playoff events. If you won a regular-season PGA Tour stop, you earned 500 points. For a playoff win, you get 1,500 points. Similarly, all players earn three times the points for their performances in playoff events compared to regular-season tournaments. (Note: This was the one real change in the structure of the playoffs from 2019, playoff event points were worth four times as much as a regular-season event.)
Who is the defending FedEx Cup champion?
Dustin Johnson won in 2020, dominating the FedEx Cup Playoffs and taking home the tour championship with a three-shot victory over Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele. DJ became the first No. 1 seed to win the FedEx Cup since Tiger Woods in 2009. He tapped in his final putt for birdie and even provided for the viewers at home with a light fist pump. Schauffele had the lowest score at East Lake with a 15-under 265, but he started in the No. 14 spot after not winning a tour event all season and couldn't catch up to Johnson.
Dustin Johnson smiles and pumps his fist to celebrate his three-stroke FedExCup victory in 2020 at East Lake Golf Club.
Who has won the most FedEx Cups?
With his win in 2019, McIlroy has won the Playoffs twice, having also claimed the title in 2016. Only one other golfer—Tiger Woods, perhaps you’ve heard of him—has won the Playoffs twice, in 2007 and 2009.
Past champions include:
2007: Tiger Woods
2008: Vijay Singh
2009: Tiger Woods
2010: Jim Furyk
2011: Bill Haas
2012: Brandt Snedeker
2013: Henrik Stenson
2014: Billy Horschel
2015: Jordan Spieth
2016: Rory McIlroy
2017: Justin Thomas
2018: Justin Rose
2019: Rory McIlroy
2020: Dustin Johnson
Tiger Woods and Mark Calcavecchia walk up the 18th hole during the final round of the TOUR Championship in 2007.
How much FedEx Cup prize money will be handed out?
The short answer: A lot. Starting in 2019, the FedEx Cup winner earned $15 million from an overall prize money payout of $60 million.
Here’s the breakdown for all the players at the Tour Championship: