It's Still Not A Playoff, And Will It Ever Be?

On the FedEx Cup change that reduces fields each week, John Hawkins blogs over at

It’s also fair to think the cuts will bring a healthy dose of credibility to a format roundly criticized for not being a “playoff” at all. Without a process of elimination from week to week, the Fed-Ex postseason only seemed to cater to the tour’s rank-and-file for the very reason Love mentioned. Admitting 144 players into the big dance was bad enough—a blatant concession to the middle class. To let 60 or 70 guys stick around for three weeks just because they had nowhere to play, so they could pick up paychecks despite having no shot at the grand prize, clearly defeated the purpose.
Okay, the 144 number was ridiculous and this addresses that to some extent. However, the players will be seeded going in and therefore the eliminations will not be happening from week to week based on poor play, but instead, where you fall on the seeding chart.

The key line on this issue of seeding came from a Jerry Potter story in the USA Today, who quotes Ric Clarson of the tour: 
"We've run hundreds of computer models," Clarson says, "and no player came from lower than 13th seed to win the Cup. If you're not in the top 15 going into the playoff, your chances of winning aren't great."

So with this seeding structure still controlling who gets to the Tour Championship and who wins there, it will (A) be nearly impossible to track who is getting eliminated each week (B) not very interesting because the top players will be secure (C) still not a true playoff.

This all boils down to Tiger and ensuring that and other names make it to the final week. So until they let go of the seeding process that protects the top players in these playoffs, they won't really be playoffs.

Of course, that means the regular season points are useless, and therefore tracking the FedEx Cup as it goes becomes a meaningless exercise.

In other words, the whole thing probably will never work.

But as Steve Elling notes and we (well, I) noted last week here, this week's ADT Championship offers something that the PGA Tour ought to be considering for the Tour Championship. Elling writes of this week's event compared to the Tour's faux playoff:

...we get to witness a true playoff structure.

The LPGA's revamped ADT Championship this week in West Palm Beach is limited to 32 top players who will be culled, collated and killed off as the week progresses. You know, eliminated. Kicked off the island green.

A true playoff. Here's where you can read more about how the ADT is going to work.