‘I Think We Can Come Up With Something Better’ - Players Still Unsure Of FedEx Cup Format

The season finale is taking place at East Lake, where the players have been voicing their opinions on the FedEx Cup format

Jon Rahm FedEx Cup
Jon Rahm is not entirely happy with the current FedEx Cup format
(Image credit: Getty Images)

How do you reward season- and playoff-long performance fairly? Not very easily, apparently, with more players coming out criticising the current FedEx Cup format.

Players have been taking questions about the format at this week’s season finale at East Lake, and not everyone is sold on the concept.

The number one ranked player in the FedEx Cup standings begins their opening round at 10-under, whereas those ranked from 26th to 30th start the tournament at even par.

Jon Rahm is not a fan.

“I don’t think it’s the best [format] we can come up with,” said the Masters champion. “I think I’ve expressed my dislike towards the fact that you can come in ranked number one in the FedExCup.

“You can win every single tournament up until this one. You have a bad week, you finish 30th, and now you’ll forever be known as 30th in the FedExCup that season.

“I don’t think that’s very fair.”

The Tour Championship adopted a ‘handicapped’ format in 2019. This week, Scottie Scheffler will start at 10-under, with Viktor Hovland ranked second after his stunning victory at the BMW Championship, beginning at eight-under.

Rahm, who sits fourth in the standings, will start on Thursday at six-under.

“When you’re in fifth place, you are, what, 5-under, so you’re five shots from the lead,” Rahm added. “But you’re also five shots from 30th place. So that, to me, doesn’t make much sense.”

The two-time Major winner said that he preferred the old system, which was predicated on year-long statistics and probability.

“If you come in as number one, you really rarely ever fell out of the top three,” Rahm said of the old format. “I thought that was a little bit better. 

“And I know the people that are good with numbers and statistics and all this and that, and probability, they ran the numbers, and I know they say this. Basically, this format comes out to the same.

“I don’t think it’s the best, but it is the easiest to understand, right? So if you ask me, I think we can come up with something better.”

Rory McIlroy FedEx Cup

Rory McIlroy starts the week at seven-under

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, believes the format is “the best one yet”.

“If anything, like, Scottie [Scheffler] this year, he probably should have more of an advantage than a two-shot lead,” said the four-time Major winner, who will be hoping he can make up the ground from his starting position of seven-under.

“But it makes it an exciting week, you know, if guys feel like they have a chance to win. Of all the iterations of the Tour Championship and the FedExCup playoffs, I think this is the best one yet.

“I can't sit here and say that I've thought of something better at this point. I'm sure if it needs to be addressed in the future, it will, but I think it works pretty well right now.”

Xander Schauffele, who, in 2020, was the first player to post the lowest 72-hole score at East Lake but not go home as a champion, also has mixed feeling, but, like McIlroy, he can’t think of a better format to finish the season.

“I can happily say I've been on both sides of it. I've never won the whole thing, but I've won this event and I was given a trophy and I've won it and was not,” said Schauffele, who starts the week at three-under.

“So I can't really comment on that, just because I haven't thought of a way to make it better.

“I still believe that when I talk to some friends and people they still feel like a little confused on how it all happens. I think this is supposed to be like our most important event all year.

“It kind of comes down to this moment. And, like, for people to be like a little bit confused, it's still not a finished product to me in that sense.”

Michael Weston
Contributing editor

Michael has been with Golf Monthly since 2008. As a multimedia journalist, he has also worked for The Football Association, where he created content to support the men's European Championships, The FA Cup, London 2012, and FA Women's Super League. As content editor at Foremost Golf, Michael worked closely with golf's biggest equipment manufacturers, and has developed an in-depth knowledge of this side of the industry. He's now a regular contributor, covering instruction, equipment and feature content. Michael has interviewed many of the game's biggest stars, including six world number ones, and has attended and reported on many Major Championships and Ryder Cups. He's a member of Formby Golf Club.