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Bill Haas' FedExCup Win Is The Best Thing To Ever Happen To The FedExCup

Think about it: every year the absurdity of the FedExCup has purportedly been "validated" by big name, established winners. Haas, winning his first event of the year and his third on the PGA Tour, ends the run that the Commissioner cited as evidence of the Cup's stature. And that's a good thing if you want to see the "playoffs" reach their potential as the exciting, dramatic competition it could be.

Now, television ratings were barely up this year and that will be cited against the 2011 Tour Championship and FedExCup finale. But a thrilling conclusion was delivered by having the champion of the Tour Championship capturing the Cup (for those who watched). Imagine guaranteeing that kind of finish each year but somehow whittling the field down to an elite number of players by Sunday, heaving the points out the window, and watching the players fight it out for $10 million in an easily explainable weekend of golf (lowest score wins!).

Brandel Chamblee's idea for something along those lines--essentially a variation on the LPGA's ADT Championship--is an interesting one and was put forward in a NY Times piece by Karen Crouse:

Under the current system, points are cumulative and the fields are reduced after each of the three tournaments leading to the 30-man Tour Championship. Chamblee suggested that once the four rounds of playoffs begin, each golfer starts with a blank slate every tournament.

The top 125 in the points standings would compete in the first event, with cuts in subsequent tournaments at 100, 70 and 30. The 72-hole stroke-play event would begin on Wednesday and crown a winner on Saturday. On Sunday, according to Chamblee’s proposal, the top four finishers would compete in an 18-hole playoff to determine the FedEx Cup champion. His idea has the added benefit of preventing players from taking a tournament off.

Thanks to Bill Haas, we no longer have to hear how the current gerrymandering system has rewarded the best player and steadiest of the year.  And thanks to Bill Haas, perhaps a riskier, wackier and more sensational format can now be put on the table for the finale to the FedExCup.

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Reader Comments (26)

Brandel has got a good idea ... But make the final round into matchplay.

09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterLiquidKaos
It was an exciting back nine and the finish was great (turned out to be match play) golf. Note to Tim Finchem: You can't manipulate can't manufacture excitement...quit trying to ram the thing down our throats as something other than it is...a desperate, failed attempt to pump up TV ratings.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commenterrb
The best thing that ever happened to the FedEx Cup was the Eagles puking their guts up against the Giants. I would suspect there was a noticeable bump in the ratings from the Philly region on Sunday.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
Haas was 15th going into the "playoffs," so it's not like he had a bad year by any means. It is true that he is far from a big name or established winner, however.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJR
It was exciting because the pressure level was palpable, and extraordinary due to the level of cash on the line. Haas and Hunter both made putts, that were not gimmes, with $10mm on the line.

The golf was poor. Haas hit one green in the last 6 holes he played and was 2-over in that stretch. He was lucky to win.

Only 18 of the top-30 in the OWGR were at East Lake. The smallest field in golf with barely more than half the best players in attendance...

If Freddie doesn't pick Keegan it will fully validate his apparent lack of smarts (Freddie that is).
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
I like the proposed scenario. I'd probably give the whole concept an additional iota of interest as a result.
Majors (prestige, history), Fall Finish, Q School (golfing lives) and a handful of seminal events and/or courses (history) are compelling for me. Money, no matter what the amount, is not.
As Del pointed out the golf was shite. Who starting the day in the Top 10 or 'controlling their own destiny' was under par? Don't know for sure, but I'm guessing Haas and maybe one other?
I do know I had a solid 90 minute nap about the mid point...mind you I'd gotten up early to watch the women play for nothing and that was so compelling it kind of wore me out.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
These people keep stealing our stuff! Maybe it will seep through Tim's skull, finally? Nah.
I like the 18 hole finale idea, but I'm not sold on the rest of it. If I'm reading it right, the top four finishers in the TC would play in the 18 hole finale. So you could win the first three weeks, finish fifth in the TC, and not make it to the finale? Doesn't seem fair to me. I don't have a problem with re-setting the points to zero at the beginning of the playoffs, but why re-set them every week? At that point, you really don't even have "points" anymore. I think they somehow need to recognize someone who has played the best over the four events. Maybe even a top 2 finishers in the TC and two "wild-cards" based on points accumulated over the four events.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
How about a skins game final? Each skin worth over a half million dollars. That might create some serious pucker power.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike T.
I'm not really sure how the points formula even works after COUNTLESS tweaks to the system BUT I do know that Bill Haas only led 1 category of any importance in this whole deal---events played at 26 of any of the relevant guys atop the FedEx points. If you look at the categories that matter throughout the year such as wins, runner ups etc. he was owned by Luke and Webb and eaked out DJ. With that being said---his LONE WIN was in a field of 30 players.

Growing up as a HUGE golf fan MAJORS always meant the most to me and countless other golfing buddies--in this system it doesn't seem like they matter as much as the 4 playoff events. Something doesn't add up there to me.

Some serious tweaking still needs to be done still to this Cup thing. As well and I know the networks have to do this but this constant reshuffling of projected points each and every tournament when the guy has a 2 footer for par at the 3rd hole in the 3rd round is ANNOYING.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterVKM
Under the current system, once the playoffs start, there are 2 routes to the Top of the points list and having a good chance at the big $$:

1. Win one or more of the playoff events. See: Dustin, Johnson. He won Barclays, and sucked the other 3. But he was fully capable of winning big if he would have played well in ATL. This is the scenario that has happened every year, including this year, where Haas won the past week. Even if you win one of he early ones, you still have to do pretty well in ATL, since they reset the points, so there is a consistancy aspect as well.
2. Finish high (without a win) in all of the events, never winning out, but still collecting the money at the end. Luke almost made this happen, Kuch could have, various others had shots at it. This is the scenario that gives everyone so much angst. But so far, it has never happened. This time, a guy at 25 was able to leap over all the others, including the winners of the first 3 playoff events, because he won the "championship". Seems pretty reasonable to me, just because people are so lazy that they don't even want to think about anything and just have it handed to them in a simple graphic on the screen doesn't mean it is a fair way of awarding a $10 million prize.

And for those that say the "keep changing it" - they haven't changed anything for 3 years now. Maybe you could take 5 minutes to try and understand a concept before blasting in on a blog.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Completely agree, Haas is one of the few winners of the fedexcup that's easy to feel good about.
@BrianS: We "understand" it fine. Just don't call this the PLAYOFFS!. For one thing, you can skip a round and still get to the final. Remind me, in what other sport is that possible. For another, it makes no difference what you do in the "regular season" once you get to the PLAYOFFS!. Just get there and keep winning and you scoop the title. In a real playoff, that is. The problem with the FedEx Cup is that it is possible to win the "title" without, you know, actually winning anything. Things turned out well this year, and there can be no quarrel with Bill Haas's victory. He won when it counted and is a fine champion. But until the leader is obvious every step along the way in the PLAYOFFS!, without Steve Sands and his White Board (which I admit to not actually seeing, since I saw not a single shot of the tournament until Geoff posted the link to the water shot), this thing is an insult to Rube Goldberg.
in the National Football League, the two division winners from the regular season get a first round bye in the playoffs. So I guess they are able to skip a round and still get to the Super Bowl. Not exactly the same situation, but similar
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commenteralp
I would have a tought time loading my sticks to go play Eastlake. Other than the ''island'' hole and the silly 18th, I cannot remember a sngle hole.

I erased the DVR: I figured I'd be seeing the (relatively easy) Hass water/sand shot enough over the next long time. Boring play, show the music video, Hunter.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
digsouth, interesting observation. Yesterday I played a terrific Raynor course and going through the round in my head this morning I was able to remember 16 or 17 of the holes without looking at the card...and that's with a reasonably healthy amount of beer consumed in the group! Not many courses built these days that really grab your attention like that.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterDel the Funk
Make the tour championship a 16 man match play. Automatic exemption if you win a major and the top two on points list going into the playoffs get in. Then the playoffs are reduced to 60 man fields each week (no cuts). And take the top 10 from a money list based solely on these events. Match play begins on Thursday and the semis and finals are on Saturday (no need to compete w/NFL). Back a Fed Ex truck up to the 18th green full of cash. No annuity..winner take all
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterHungryjack

This is where I have a dig (no pun intended) with the perpetual jabs at the recent ChiTown doings.... Several of the holes were really artistic , and memorable. Now I am not going to get in to the playability or the whack puzzle piece effing up of the bunke/green ''edges''(now what is that area called...too much gatorade/coffee), and in fairness to the critics, maybe the playbility sux, but in fairness to Joe and the family Jen/msick (he's the goddam Pater Familia) maybe the critics are a buncha pansies, and should go to the par 3 nineholer.
sHoot don't ask me to recite the holes . esp. in order....but they were~pretty~, a feature THAT I CARE ABOUT. sCREW A BUNCHA PROS WHO WANT oops...sorry for unintended continued caps... pros who want every blade of grass that is not evenly mowed whired into GUR. Go play a $15 muni, you spoiled punks. You forget how HARD it is to come up ith the money to make trax nice.

So Del, play on , brother. Life is good.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
What's even more ridiculous about it all, is that we keep being told that watching Haas deliver so many up and downs and keep his nerves under control with 11.4 mios on the line was a testament to his mental toughness... but the guy had no idea that a win would get him the 10 mios bonus since he kept asking who won the fedex cup after finishing the 18th hole..
The point is nobody gets it, so you can't even stress over it since you're not sure what a win means in the end.
Regarding Chamblee's idea, what happens if a player wins more than one playoff event? He starts the final Sunday playoff round on the 10th hole while the other single winners battle it out on the front 9?
09.27.2011 | Unregistered Commentersiguez
I believe Sunday was the most exciting ending that the Fed Ex playoffs could have been. That being said, I also believe that there are flaws in the system. Just as there is a problem with the BCS in college football. I think that we do want excitment, the tv needs their ratings. That or we don't have golf on televison. We would have another Terrible show on instead! I say look into it. Its like your golf swing. Somebody should always look at it, and help or give advice on how to make your swing better.
09.27.2011 | Unregistered CommenterWowlamsback
Need to think about this as a TV event. Anytime a whiteboard comes out you can guarantee that anyone watching (in the stands, players, me waking up from a nap) has no clue who's winning. I still don't understand what Webb should have done to win this thing - finish 2 spots higher in the middle of the field?

Here is a thought. You have field cuts in the first two playoff events on friday and sunday night. Make those elimination from the playoff cuts and you've got two good story lines - who's winning the event, who's getting eliminated from the field.

Event 1, friday field cut from 165 to 120. Sunday from 120 to 100
Event 2: Friday from 100 to 80. Sunday from 80 to 60
Event 3: Friday from 60 to 45. Sunday from 45 to 30
Event 4 Friday from 30 to 20 Saturday from 20 to 9.

SUNDAY: 3 groups of 3 with a blank slate. 18 hole shootout for 10 million dollars.

Thats Great TV with tons of story lines for four weeks. And a player could actually play from 100th in the field in Event 1 to the championship - which is actually not really possible now. Its easy to follow (CUT line is -2 and Harrington is -1 with 2 to play). The field sizes would be exactly the same as they are right now.
09.28.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdan
My Fedex Cup Idea

All cup tournaments in the cup pay out an $8MM purse with normal splits.

Barclays - Top 125 on the money list get in
DB - Top 100 on the money list get in + anyone outside of that group who finished in the top 15 at the Barclays.
BMW - Top 70 on the money list get in + anyone outside of that group who finished in the top 10 at the DB.
Coke - Top 30 on the money list get in + anyone outside of that group who finished in the top 5 at BMW.

Coke would start as a 54 hole, no-cut stroke play event. The winner of the 54 goes on to play the top 5 in the money list. If the winner is in the top 5, than the top 6 in the money list play.

On Sunday of the Coke, the final 6 play some kind of 4 hour made for TV round robin match play event that produces a clear winner. Winner gets $7.5MM and the FedEx cup. Losers get $500k each for their troubles.

No points. Only dollars and/or a well timed high placing can get you to the next event.

Please email if you would like to license this idea.
09.28.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMilton
A couple other thoughts on my plan above:

- 5 field resets where everyone is in the same boat. This is an actual TOURNAMENT, not a cash grab by the top players. This is how 'playoffs' actually work.

- NO FEDEX CUP POINTS (impossible to follow) or Money List (not going to happen because it shows how much money these guys are making)

- Skip a week and you're gone.

- easy to add 20-30 international exemptions at the beginning to get the field to include important players

The big downside someone can solve is that all year long we hear 'leader of the fedex cup' even though its pointless. That's a lot of TV time for FedEx, and very important to them.
09.28.2011 | Unregistered Commenterdan
I like alot of the elimination idea, but just don't get the fascination with introducing match play into the equation. @Milton proposes a round robin match play. The exact strength of stroke play is that it is the only sport I can think of any way that multiple players can compete against one another equally. Match play, you only beat the person you are matched against, no matter how well or badly you play, it just depends on him. I like having a small field left on the final day, everyone knows if they win, they get the big $$, but having 12 or so guys all competing stroke play I think is much more exciting - one bad hole, you are toast - make an eagle, you fly up the board, ect.
09.28.2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
So far i've read every post that has a "new idea" of what changes could be made to make the playoffs better. So far every idea is better than what they have now!

They need to make this thing must see tv because as much golf as i watched all season, i watched less than 10 minutes during the final weekend. The idea that people will tune in because they are playing for so much money is ridiculous. I still say eliminate all the points and make the standing based on score to par to golf fans know who's actually winning and how much everyone is losing by. Include a final weekend true playoff match play.
09.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterFarRight
"On Sunday of the Coke, the final 6 play some kind of 4 hour made for TV round robin match play event that produces a clear winner. Winner gets $7.5MM and the FedEx cup. Losers get $500k each for their troubles. "

revision -- The six get sent out in two groups of 3 and they all compete in stroke play. Marshalls ensure that one group is walking while the other is shooting/putting so that there are always shots to show. Winner of stroke play wins the big prize.
09.29.2011 | Unregistered CommenterMilton

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