August 15, 2011

Fixing The FedEx Cup

     The PGA Championship is done, and that means it's almost time for the FedEx Cup playoffs, an event that should be really exciting but always finds a way to fall short.  In 2007, Tiger Woods didn't even play in the first tournament and still ended up dominating.  In 2008, Vijay Singh was guaranteed the championship before the final event even started.  The 2009 edition featured a lot of drama throughout, but ended when Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship but was not named champion of the PGA Tour.  The 2010 version ended with Jim Furyk jumping 10 spots to win the Cup after a one-shot win in the last tournament.
     But what can be done to make the tournament more exciting?  The setup used in '09 and '10 works really well, but one thing needs to change:  the Tour Championship, the final event in the FedEx Cup playoffs.  My problem is the point system.  Nobody wants to have to deal with points when a championship is on the line.  Nobody wants to see one player win but have the point system give the real title to another guy.
     What if instead of using points in the final event, they used a handicap system?  There's already a points reset before the championship.  So have the #1 player start at even par, the #2 and #3 at +1, the #4 and #5 at +2, and so on until #30, who starts at +15.  Then we'll be able to see right away who is leading in the FedEx Cup contest instead of having to wait for the CBS guys to tell us.  No confusing points system, just real golf scores.  The winner without handicaps can still get a cool trophy.
     Another benefit of the handicap system is that theoretically, none of the players requires other players to fail in order for them to win the Cup.  If Bo Van Pelt wanted to go from 30th to 1st, he wouldn't need Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, etc. to place below a certain spot in the standings.  He could take matters into his own hands by shooting a really low score (-20 would have worked last year).
     You know where else this would work?  NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Last year, only three drivers had a chance to win the Cup in the final race, and with the points being how they were, it was hard to tell who was leading.  I'd like to see them start the final race of the year at a standstill, and for each spot in the standings the cars would be spread a certain distance apart (I don't know racing as well so I don't have a suggestion).  Or they would all start in the pit and have to wait a predetermined amount of time before starting.  Then the winner of the race would win the Cup.  Simple.

     For the extra-curious, this is how the FedEx Cup would have played out under the rules proposed above:

-2007:  Tiger Woods wins by 11 or so
-2008:  Camilo Villegas wins in a playoff against Sergio Garcia (Vijay Singh is not close)
-2009:  Tiger Woods wins by 4 over Phil Mickelson, Sean O'Hair, and Steve Stricker
-2010:  Luke Donald wins by 1 over Jim Furyk

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