How the FedEx Cup Playoffs work

Tiger Woods will try to become the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup. (USATSI)
Tiger Woods will try to become the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup. (USATSI)

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The FedEx Cup Playoffs will start this weekend at The Barclays. As in previous years, golf fans everywhere will be scrambling to remember just how these playoffs work.

I admit, the formula is a bit complicated but let's walk through it together and perhaps you'll come out on the other side with a better understanding of just what exactly the top 125 golfers on the PGA Tour will be playing for at the end of September.

First, you need to know that FedEx Cup points are distributed throughout the season -- from the beginning of January through the Wyndham Championship last weekend in North Carolina. 

The winner of each tournament throughout the season usually gets around 500-600 points while second place usually takes 300, third gets 190 and so on down the list -- everyone who makes the cut getting at least one point.

At the end of the year the top 125 points earners are ranked and earn a spot in the field at The Barclays which is the first of four Playoff events.

Total points from the regular season carry over to the first three Playoff events but the point distributions for winning these events are higher than in the regular season.

For example, the winner of The Barclays (and the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship) will receive 2,500 points. 

Right now Tiger Woods leads the standings with 3,059 points but he could easily be overtaken by someone if that golfer wins and Woods finishes, say, 20th at The Barclays.

After The Barclays the standings will be recalculated and the top 100 guys will make the Deutsche Bank Championship.

The bottom 25 will be lopped off and will not compete. The same rules apply for this tournament as The Barclays except that when the standings are recalculated here only 70 golfers move on to the BMW Championship.

From the BMW Championship the top 30 go to the Tour Championship at the end of September.

When we get to the Tour Championship the point totals will be reset to give everyone a somewhat viable chance at the title and $10 million prize.

Whoever is in first at that point will be reset to 2,500 points no matter how many points they have, second place will assume a total of 1,500 points and so on. Point distribution is the same at the Tour Championship (2,500 to the winner) as the other three Playoff tournaments.

So if you're in first going to the Tour Championship you don't necessarily have to win that tournament to win the overall FedEx Cup. In 2008 Camilo Villegas won the BMW Championship and Tour Championship but Vijay Singh won the FedEx Cup. In 2009 Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship but Tiger Woods took home the FedEx Cup.

It's a bit complex, yes, but that year-end Tour Championship with, presumably, the 30 best golfers on the PGA Tour is quite the event.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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