Focus Group-Tested, Players-Approved FedExCup For 2019 Still Lacks A Certain Something

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Let's establish a few things for those who might have forgotten: the FedExCup has been a resounding success despite lackluster ratings and constant tweaking over the years.

Which, of course, is why something so good, so brilliantly conceived, and so universally adored by the masses will be blown up in 2019. Despite years of great suggestions from all corners of the golf watching world, it should be noted the PGA Tour chose to cook up an internal idea that has some merit but also potential holes.

 AP's Doug Ferguson says the vaunted points system, resets and algorithms will be tossed in favor of a scoring bias system that starts the FedExCup leader at -10 and works its way down from there.

The problem was splitting attention on two trophies. A year ago, Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship by one shot over Justin Thomas, who won the FedEx Cup. Thomas said later it was a “weird” moment to lose the tournament and win the $10 million prize.

This means we have a weird 72-hole stroke play event where one player starts with a 10-stroke advantage, the next guy 8 strokes, and on down for the top 5. Presumably after those top 5 everyone else will start from scratch. 

After legions of great suggestions over the years ranging from aggregate stroke play playoffs to points systems that produce a one-day shootout any sports fan can understand, we have something crafted by focus groups. Literally.

From Brian Wacker's story with more details on the concept:

According to multiple sources, the organization gathered statisticians and focus groups to help flesh out the format and gauge how well the changes would be received. Roughly 80 percent of the focus groups grasped the concept and said it was easier to understand, according to one source.

This handicap tournament will count as an official win despite the stroke-weighted structure. 

No doubt, Cialis prescriptions went unused for days when the statisticians and tour executives were told the new format would have produced a one-stroke Justin Thomas win over Jordan Spieth in 2018.  (Spieth held the FedExCup lead over Thomas heading to East Lake, so this presumes he started -10 to Thomas's -8).

That duel surely would have made for some great theater, but the year before, Dustin Johnson would have played just a so-so final tournament and have beaten Rory McIlroy by three strokes. That McIlroy win in a playoff was confusing but also possibly the most exciting in the Tour Championship's FedExCup era despite the confusion over scenarios.

Ultimately Sundays at East Lake should get better and maybe even make more sense in this scenario. But before you say Billy Horschel, the PGA Tour's Playoffs(C) have always lacked the dramatic potential for wild upsets, surprise eliminations and an underdog component. 

The final four days at East Lake will still be just like before: three days of ho-hum golf with fingers crossed the numbers add up to make Sunday work. Which begs the question: what so has the players, execs and focus-groups still afraid to cut after 36 holes, reset the points, cut again for an exciting Saturday, then feature a Sunday shootout with just a few playing-for-the-big-check?

I guess we still will never find out.