What I love about the FedEx Cup Playoffs
Ryder Cup interest and an "anybody can win it" mentality are two of the better things about the golf playoffs this time of year.
At some point on Sunday when Hunter Mahan was torching the back nine at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey I realized just how little folks care about the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Of course I knew this in a vacuum but it was absolutely apparent at this event, a big weekend with a big-boy leaderboard, that the golf playoffs just aren't getting it done.
Folks have already turned to football and if not football then they're wrapping up family vacations or watching Beyonce do Beyonce stuff or on the lake soaking up the last days of summer.
As a result it has become somewhat of sexy thing to write about what should change about the playoffs to make them more appealing-- something I've done myself -- but what about what's good about them?
If you ask most golf fans and writers the answer would be "well, nothing" but since they aren't changing anytime soon how about we look at what's actually cool about this time of year.
Here are a few things I love about the FedEx Cup Playoffs:
1. Anybody can win: Some people see this as a deterrent to tuning in but isn't that what we love about other sports? Don't we love watching the Marlins sneak into the MLB playoffs as a wild card team and then streak to the title?
Wasn't that Sonics-Nuggets first round playoff series back in the late 90s one of the most riveting things you've ever seen? What about Mavs-Warriors in the late 2000s? What about the 2007 New York Giants? Were you bored by their run?
The problem is that we view the golf playoffs as the aggregate of a season of work. It doesn't make sense that Hunter Mahan should be in first place in the standings after the season Rory McIlroy has put together.
But the reset button has been hit (even though the regular season still carries some clout in this system) -- this is a new season altogether.
The quicker we understand that, the better.
2. Process of elimination: I think it's pretty cool that the elimination of golfers takes place over each of the four weeks. It makes for a little bit of drama where there is none. Drama like this:
Troy Merritt walks off course at 101st on FedEx list. While lamenting his spot during interview, moves to 100th. By the end, he's 99th.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 24, 2014
I even suggested that golfers should be eliminated after every round to turn that drama up but we aren't talking about what can be improved, we're talking about what's already good.
3. One eye on the Tour Championship: I don't know if it makes for great television but the idea of the 30 best playoff golfers (with a little bit of weight from the regular season) congregating at a great course to see who's going to win $10 million is at least a little bit thrilling.
If it wasn't smack in the middle of football season this would certainly garner a lot more attention. I realize that playing for $10 million over the course of 72 holes has Phil Mickelson giving one of these:
But for some folks, it's a big deal.
4. It gives us something to talk about: I know, I know, but hear me out on this. Golf is better when we're innovating and thinking about ways to make the game better and (I guess) complaining about things. As No Laying Up pointed out, this format is way better than what existed eight years ago and yet we still aren't satisfied.
Would I like the playoffs to be as perfect as the Masters? Sure, but not much in golf is so better this than what used to be in place, which was an extended season into the fall and a Tour Championship in the same month as Thanksgiving.
Better a little bit of complicated golf that actually means something (narrowing down 125 guys to 30) than no meaningful golf at all.
5. It heightens interest in the Ryder Cup: To piggyback on point No. 4, you wouldn't be getting the Ryder Cup runout you're getting if you were playing the Reno-Tahoe Open and 84 Lumber Classic (which were played at this time in 2006).
The massive purses of these tournaments create situations in which all the big guns play which creates interest in the Ryder Cup captain's picks. That's a good thing, even if it's a stretch.
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