Luke Elvy: Fixing the FedEx Cup

In life, the loser finds excuses while winners look for solutions. Last week I presented the flaws in the current playoff system, now it’s time to offer ways to fix it.

Let it be known that I like what the PGA Tour has done by creating more excitement post the PGA Championship, but there’s no doubt the playoffs can be better. The saying ‘never rest until your good is better and your better, best’ is appropriate here.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy (Credit: www.golffile.ie)

Remember it’s branded as a “season long points race” yet majors are valued at 600 points and winning a playoff event is a whopping 2,500 – it’s out of proportion. No one feels Billy Horschel had a better 2014 than Rory McIlroy he just finished stronger.

A way to overcome that situation is to pay out a smaller ‘bonus’ on a sliding scale at the end of the regular season, then start again in the playoffs. That way you can use the current point system and people wouldn’t feel it’s out of whack.

To build the prize purse…instead of paying out at the end of every playoff event, it can be combined (4x $8million = $32m) and divided up after the four tournaments are completed, and paid out accordingly depending on final standings.

Ok here goes – please save all criticism to the end.

Week 1: Give the top 30 players at the end of the regular season the first week off, that’s their reward for a great year. Those 31-150 in the standings then contest The Barclays where the top 70 (in points) advance to join the top 30 in Boston. This allows those between 126-150 an extra week to secure their card for next season.

Week 2: All 100 players remaining are in the field, where the top 6 in the points standings at weeks end are exempt for the Tour Championship, while the bottom 30 are eliminated. The other 64 are left to contest the BMW Championship in a match play format.

Week 3: All pre-tournament WD’s are replaced to ensure an even 64 players fight for the remaining the 24 spots at East Lake. A round-robin then knockout situation (like Europe’s event) suits more than players being instantly eliminated (like current US event).

Week 4: The finale needs excitement all four days so a cut at the end of each round provides it. As the points are recalibrated instantly those between 24-30th in the standings after day 1 are eliminated, ensuring those at the bottom of the list turn up at Atlanta with one objective…to play lights out.

That trend continues at the end of days 2 and 3, which leaves 12 players to tee it up the final day of the season. A couple of the Ryder or Presidents Cup picks can be awarded at this stage for those not already qualified. Again it adds more interest and excitement.

On the final day you can eliminate the bottom six after the front nine, leaving the last six to battle for the bonus bucks over the back nine on Sunday. It becomes made for TV golf.

Now mic these guys and their caddies up! I want to be inside these guys’ heads as they play for the massive payday. It can even be pushed back to twilight to get ‘primetime’ ratings.

To continue the process of elimination you can drop the bottom two players after the 12th & 15th holes (and interview them) leaving the final two to duke it out down the stretch. This way the money is on the line until the very end.

Sure it was great to see Billy Ho play the golf of his life, but it wasn’t heart in your mouth stuff, playoffs should have everyone on the edge of their seat.

If the PGA Tour wants the playoffs to attract greater attention then more variables have to be in play.