Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)


The FedEx Cup fallacy

By Ron Sirak Photos by J.D. Cuban
August 13, 2007

So here's the corner into which the PGA Tour has backed itself. Tiger Woods has won five tournaments, picking up along the way a major, two World Golf Championship events and $7.8 million. If Boo Weekley wins the FedEx Cup is he the player of the year? No way, Sparky. For all intents and purposes the PGA Tour season ended Sunday at Southern Hills when Woods (below) won the PGA Championship. The playoffs, which begin next week, give the term "postseason" a whole new meaning, perhaps something closer to postmortem.

Surely, the powers that be in Ponte Vedra must have known there was a good chance their season-ending brouhaha could amount to nothing more than an anti-climactic annuity for someone who already has had a good year. Even if Weekley does win the Tour Championship Sept. 16, keep in mind the $2.2 million he has banked to this point in the season is still $5.6 million less than Woods. Heck, even if Weekley won all four FedEx Cup events, would you say he had a better year than Tiger?

Why single out Weekley? Because he highlighted the futility of the tour's finish when he famously said at Southern Hills, "I don't know nothing about the FedEx Cup. I never was good at math." (That statement that took on a double meaning when he helped get Sergio Garcia disqualified at the PGA Championship by writing down a 4 on the scorecard when he actually made a 5). But Weekley does point us in the direction of the tour's boo boo: Is anyone doing the math?

The Wyndham Championship this week is the final event in which to earn FedEx Cup points. What that means is that it is a big week for Eric Axley. He's No. 145 in the FedEx Cup points standings -- one slot removed from the 144 players who qualify for the playoff payoff, breathing down the neck of Marco Dawson. How meaningless is it to have 144 players in this playoff? Of the 46 players currently between Nos. 120 and 165 on the FedEx Cup points list, 40 did not even qualify to play in the PGA Championship, two missed the cut and only one—Anders Hansen (T-12)—finished better than 50th.

One goal of the FedEx Cup was to create playoff-type TV ratings achieved in team sports. But the sad fact is that the five events that create such a bump (and the revenue that comes with it) -- the four majors and the Ryder Cup -- are not owned by the PGA Tour. The FedEx Cup won't change that.

PGA Tour officials hoped the FedEx Cup would bring its stars together for a season-ending showdown. That will still happen, but one of the players the tour needed to make it succeed inadvertently sabotaged it.

What Woods did the last two weeks by winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship was make the FedEx Cup less meaningful than NFL preseason games. At least something is at stake there -- perhaps a starting position. If anyone other than Woods wins the FedEx Cup, that player will become a mere footnote (albeit one with a $10 million annuity) to the 2007 season. The real champion is Tiger Woods.