Back in 2007, the FedEx Cup was created to provide an exciting end-of-season finale for the PGA Tour's top players.
Many of the star names didn't want to play past September and so this four-event play-off competition was introduced to wrap their season up ahead of the Fall Series.
The top 125 points-scorers across the season qualify for the first event, The Barclays, and the field size then decreases each week. The top 100 then play in the Deutsche Bank, the top 70 in the BMW Championship and the final 30 in the Tour Championship.
The scoring system has been adjusted and tweaked to make the final event as competitive as possible - in theory any of the final 30 could walk away as the champion - and if you win the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup overall then you stand to win more than $11million in that final week.
That's why players such as Padraig Harrington and Ernie Els were so desperate to qualify for The Barclays by playing well at the Wyndham Championship - and they must now focus on reaching the top 100 to keep it going into next week.
I suspect the overall winner will be somebody who wins one of the last four events. In previous years, the FedEx Cup champion has always won at least one of the play-off events.
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Harrington is 124th on the list right now, but with five times as many points available at The Barclays as you would get in a regular PGA Tour event, he still has every chance of reaching the Tour Championship.
However, they have slightly adjusted things to reward the people who have done well throughout the year. There was a feeling that the final four events carried too much weight, so the consistent performers should now see their efforts reflected better in the final analysis.
You can win from 30th, but it's unlikely. The guys that are in the top five going into the final week are going to be in a very strong position.
That's good news for Nick Watney who is currently at the front of the points list. As a consistent performer who does well in many aspects of the game he can be confident.
However, I suspect the overall winner will be somebody who wins one of the last four events. In previous years, the FedEx Cup champion has always won at least one of the play-off events.
That's good news for Steve Stricker, who's known as Mr September because of his form at this time of year. He's second in the points list, and he's a similar age to Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh when they won the FedEx Cup, so you've got to say he has a strong chance.
And what about Webb Simpson who's third in the points list? You rarely see someone win twice in a row, but he's been in contention at events all year long.
He is the best on Tour in the all-round stats department and keeps giving himself opportunities. Having finished second twice this year, I always felt it would fall into place for him at some stage.
That's what happened at the Wyndham Championship, particularly on Saturday night when he played the last six holes in six under (frustratingly American television had gone off air by that point) and then he looked particularly good in the final round.
As a result he's now above Tiger Woods in the world rankings. Isn't that just extraordinary?
His victory came with the assistance of a long putter, which is quite within the rules of the game but I'd like to see them banned.
I don't think anything that's anchored should be part of the sport and I don't like them at all. If you anchor the butt to your body, it guarantees the arc of the putter down below and it's easier to repeat a consistent pendulum swing when one end of the club doesn't move.
Keegan Bradley won a major championship with one and now Simpson has won as well. Remember, these aren't older guys with frayed nerves; these are young men at the peak of their fitness.
I noticed Stuart Appleby was using one last week and I suspect we're going to see even more players trying them out. Sadly I think the R&A and the USGA have been too slow to respond and prevent its use.
Manufacturers have produced some wonderful golf clubs and it's helped to make the sport more accessible and enjoyable for amateurs. But the guys at the top of the game shouldns't get as much assistance.
Much like 64 degree wedges, I think long putters should be banned. However, I think that horse has bolted and I'm afraid the sport could now be stuck with them.
Rob's Sky Bet Tips
There's 123 players in the field this week - JB Holmes and Charl Schwartzel have dropped out - so picking a winner is very tough. I have a feeling that Rickie Fowler, who is 28th on the points list, could do well at 33/1 with Sky Bet. He's in a position where he knows he has to keep playing well to make it to the Tour Championship and I think it's useful to go into an event with an agenda. I quite like his chances here with Steve Stricker my current favourite to win the FedEx Cup overall.
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Andrew Kenneally says...
Fully agree with the view regarding long putters. If you're having trouble putting properly with a proper putter - tough, that's an integral & vital part of the game. A get-out-clause where your faltering nerve & technique manage to go relatively unpunished by these ugly & untraditional implements is ridiculous. Someone who's spraying his drives all over the place doesn't get to use some alternative weapon that wipes out the weaknesses in his game - why should poor putters escape their problems. But in general from what I see the golf authorities have been pathetically docile - servile rather - all along in their attitude towards the equipment manufacturers.
Posted 16:09 25th August 2011
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