OPINION: Why It’s Time To Change The FedEx Cup Format

The format is no longer resonating with fans, or players, so it's time to change it...

Patrick Cantlay is greeted by his girlfriend after winning the FedEx Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The format is no longer resonating with fans, or players, so it's time to change it...

The FedEx Cup is the holy grail of the PGA Tour season, with one lucky and very talented winner picking up the now-iconic trophy and an eye-watering $15m.

The season-long points race culminates at East Lake where players start at different scores based on their FedEx Cup points standings.

The format changed for 2019 from a purely points-driven competition to the new one where points go out of the window at the final event and scores to par are the ultimate decider.

It means that an entire season comes down to how well you can play at the Tour Championship, which on paper may sound fair.

However, a player can literally win every single PGA Tour event and only start the Tour Championship two ahead.

A double-bogey at the first hole for the FedEx Cup points leader and bam, the lead is gone in a matter of 15 minutes.

Kevin Na had a fantastic week at East Lake to finish 3rd in the FedEx Cup standings but does that mean he was the third-best player on the PGA Tour this year? Not by a long way.

The World No.24 won the Sony Open back in January and has recorded two runners-up since but he finished 22 places ahead of Collin Morikawa who won the Open Championship as well as a WGC.

That just doesn't seem right.

After three years of this current format, the fans just aren't getting on board, and neither are the players.

“I'm still not a fan of this format. I don't think it's a good format,” Patrick Cantlay, winner of the FedEx Cup and $15m, said.

“I don't like the fact that somebody else shot the lowest score this week, and they would have won the Tour Championship in years past.”

It must be coming through loud and clear to the PGA Tour that the person who won the entire thing is publicly criticising it.

And the man he beat, Jon Rahm? He's not a fan either.

"I don't like it, I don't think it's fair," he said during week one.

"I don't like that at all. I think you have the Playoffs itself and win the first two, and if you don't play good on the last one, you can end up with a really bad finish."

It's quite clear that there needs to be a change to the format to make it more fair and less 'contrived'.

The Tour Championship itself has also been devalued by the change of format as the winner isn't guaranteed to be the person who actually played the best that week.

Patrick Cantlay finished the 72-hole tournament in T4th, three behind Kevin Na and Jon Rahm who could have had an entertaining playoff to see who would win the final event of the season.

A win at the Tour Championship for Kevin Na would have been huge ahead of the Ryder Cup and would have surely created a lot of buzz for him to be picked.

Instead, Rahm and Na quietly finished the week in T1st and Cantlay was handed the title, which strangely counts as an official win in his PGA Tour resume.

Another eye-opening aspect of this format is the complete disregard for the Majors.

US Open winner Jon Rahm finished the FedEx Cup in 2nd but Open winner Collin Morikawa and Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama were not even inside the top 25.

And PGA Champion Phil Mickelson? He finished 70th.

The Majors are how the world's best rank their seasons and a win in one of golf's big four events should guarantee a top-10 finish at least, you'd like to think.

What's more, the PGA Tour actually changed the format after arguably the greatest Tour Championship ever seen in 2018 when Tiger Woods won his first event in over five years in scenes we'll all remember until we die.

Tiger Woods celebrates winning the Tour Championship

Tiger wouldn't have won anything that week in this current format and we'd have all been denied that incredible Sunday, just like Na and Rahm were denied the chance to win a huge PGA Tour event.

Woods rightly didn't win the FedEx Cup that year whilst Justin Rose rightly did.

The week produced an amazing story and the season produced a very worthy winner.

It's a season-long race after all and I don't think that fans would mind when it gets settled, just as long as it does get settled in the correct way.

Leagues like F1 and the Premier League are decided fairly on who has performed the best in an entire season and racked up the most points, not who has won the final game or race of the season.

The PGA Tour should have more faith in the Tour Championship as a standalone event.

It's a historic tournament at a wonderful golf course that fans love to watch, just not in this current guise.

I say go back to the previous format where the winner of the FedEx Cup is the person who played the best golf all season, and if they happen to be the Tour Championship winner then great.

If not, we'll all still enjoy the Tour Championship as it is and appreciate the winner of the FedEx Cup as a deserving champion.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5