The FedEx Cup is a championship trophy on the PGA Tour. First awarded in 2007 after a points race, each year since then it has undergone rule changes to address issues that arose during the previous year.
During the first part of the golfing season, known as the “regular season” from January through August, PGA Tour players earn points for each event they enter. The number of points for the winner varies from 250 to 600 depending on the tournament. Most award 500 points. The other players who enter the event also win a smaller number of points. Only those who are regular members of the PGA Tour during the event will win points.
At the end of the regular season, those who are among the top 125 points leaders advance to the playoffs. There are 2500 points granted for winning each playoff tournament. For 2009, these points are added to those accumulated during the regular season; this differs from the 2007 and 2008 championships, where points were reset before the beginning of the playoffs. During these events, any player can skip a playoff event prior to the Tour Championship; there are no alternates allowed. However, doing so will mean forfeiting any possible points from that event, risking the player’s standings on the points list.
The playoff events include The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, and BMW Championship. After each playoff event, additional players are cut from the running towards the FedEx championship, narrowing the field. The number of players advancing through the playoffs has changed slightly from previous years; in 2009 125 will play The Barclays, 100 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, 70 at the BMW Championship, and 30 at The Tour Championship.
After the third playoff event, only the top 30 players move on to the final event in the FedEx cup, The Tour Championship. At this point, the points are reset, with the #1 player having 2500 points, the #2 player with 2250 points, and so on, down to the #30 player who begins with 210 points. The goal of this redistribution is to ensure that any of the 30 players can win the FedEx cup, but that the top players have the best chance. A win by any of the top five players will guarantee them the FedEx Cup title, while numbers 6-10 have an excellent chance of winning the cup.
This is a new rules change for 2009, designed to ensure that the FedEx Cup champion will be determined by the last playoff event. In 2008 year, winner Vijay Singh had won the championship before the final event because of a large points lead over other players, so the points are reset to prevent this from occurring in future years.
The player with the most points after The Tour Championship wins the FedEx cup, with a $10 million prize. The runner-up gets $3 million, 3rd place receives $2 million, and so on, down to $32,000 for 144th place. During the 2007 season this money was placed in a retirement account; now, it is mainly paid out in an upfront cash payment. Besides these cash bonuses, the FedEx Cup winner also receives a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour.
In the first FedEx Cup year, 2007, Tiger Woods won with 123,33 points, a margin of over 12,000 over the second-place finisher. 2008’s winner, Vijay Singh of Fiji, won with 125,101 points, a margin of just 551.
For the 2009 season, some say Tiger is a shoe-in. However, his recent injuries have allowed more room in the field. Other players favored to win include Zach Johnson, Geoff Ogilvy, Phil Mickelson, Sean O’Hair, and Kenny Perry. The field is wide open for any player to come from behind to gain top standing heading into The Tour Championship, which is played in mid-September.