What if I told you not all playing fields were level? What if I told you that golf, the ultimate meritocracy, was no longer being played equivalently at all?
That's what's going to happen at the 2019 Tour Championship when players will start with staggered scores with the leader of the FedEx Cup coming into the tournament beginning the event at 10 under. Here is how players will start.
- First in FedEx Cup coming to Tour Championship: -10
- Second: -8
- Third: -7
- Fourth: -6
- Fifth: -5
- 6th-10th: -4
- 11th-15th: -3
- 16th-20th: -2
- 21st-25th: -1
- 26th-30th: E
This was done so that whoever wins the Tour Championship automatically wins the FedEx Cup. It will prevent situations like last season where Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship, but Justin Thomas won the FedEx Cup.
"This is a significant and exciting change for the PGA Tour, our players, our partners and – most importantly – our fans," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said on Tuesday.
"As soon as the Tour Championship begins, any fan -- no matter if they've followed the PGA Tour all season or are just tuning in for the final event -- can immediately understand what's going on and what's at stake for every single player in the field. And, of course, players will know exactly where they stand at all times while in play, which will ratchet up the drama, consequence and volatility of the competition down the stretch."
It's a bit odd, especially considering somebody in last place could theoretically beat the golfer in first by nine strokes and lose the event, but I think overall it works. It's far less convoluted than the previous system and it smooths out the awkwardness of having two champs -- one for the Tour Championship and one for the FedEx Cup -- at East Lake.
"It's going to be different for sure," last year's FedEx Cup winner Justin Thomas said. "I liked the way that it is now, but like anything, you're just going to have to get used to it and ... we're just going to have to become comfortable with it because that's the way it is. Hopefully -- I'm sure it will -- it will produce a lot of great drama and a very deserving winner."
That's not the only change that was announced on Tuesday, either. The playoffs will be reduced from four events to three (which we knew), and the field will be cut from 125 to 70 to 30. It previously went from 125 to 100 to 70 to 30.
Also, prize money is increasing. There is now a regular season bonus associated with the FedEx Cup called the Wyndham Rewards Top 10. The top-10 finishers in the regular season will be handsomely rewarded following the Wyndham Championship, which will be the week before the playoffs. The leader in FedEx Cup points after the regular season will take home $2 million, and everyone in the top 10 will be paid from the new $10 million purse.
Additionally (!) the prize money for the postseason is going up. Instead of taking home $10 million for winning the FedEx Cup, the winner will now take home $15 (!) million. The bonus pool will increase from $35 million to $60 (!) million.
While I'm not sure additional money was needed for the postseason race, I do like the bump to the regular season as well as the new Tour Championship format. There's no way to do it all perfectly, but the PGA Tour is at least moving in the right direction in simplifying for fans and rewarding golfers for season-long success in the FedEx Cup.