It’s that time of the year again where PGA Tour golfers start rattling their money boxes around like it’s Christmas. The FedExCup Playoffs is no time for loose change, this is when the big guns start playing for the big bucks.
Take a look at the infographic below, these boys sure are playing for a lot of money, but just to qualify for a place in the Playoffs means they’ve already won about $650,000. Not an insignificant chunk of money.
But would we accept anything different? Do we want to see players playing for anything less. It’s this obscene amount of money which gets all the top players to compete at the end of the season when they might otherwise be picking up more lucrative checks in the Far East.
Have we accepted that this is what it takes to ensure a competitive, exciting finish to the PGA Tour regular season – a sum of money bigger than the GDP of Monserrat or Tuvalu?
FedEx continues to sponsor one of the most pressure packed stretches of the season. With the majors decided, the focus of the season now becomes a quest for the season-ending top dog honours. Four tournaments conspire to provide a total pot of $67,000,000; The Barclays, Deutsche Bank Championship, BMW Championship and the TOUR Championship. This includes a bonus pot of $35,000,000 for the top thirty finishing positions.
There are three things missing from Rory McIlroy’s wish list: A Green Jacket from the Masters; winning the FedExCup; and holing the winning putt at the Ryder Cup. He could well complete two of them by the end of September.
In 2007 the then ranked numbering one in the world, Tiger Woods, confirmed that the best do come first by winning the inaugural FedExCup. McIlroy has the chance to do likewise and extend an already memorable double-major winning season.
Perhaps his biggest competition will come from the likes of Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson, although their form seems to pale in comparison to the current world number one.
Sometimes though, consistency during the Playoffs pays off, a bit like when Bill Haas won in 2011 coming from 25th place to finish champion. Three names looking to finish the season with a big payday this time round – or at least a win – are Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, who are lying 7th, 8th and 15th.
The FedExCup is set up for a player like Spieth. His best so far has been a pair of second place finishes, he had a good look at both the Masters and the Players tournaments too. Last season he had a great run at the Playoffs with a T19, T4, T16 and a T2 at the Tour Championship to finish 8th overall, not bad for a rookie.
Garcia has had more top ten finishes in the PGA tour this year than finishes outside. In just thirteen tournaments he has also notched up five top fives. Yet he is still without victory on the PGA this year, or indeed since the Wyndham Championship in 2012. This will be the third straight year Sergio has made it all the way to the Tour Championship, and should he move himself significantly up the rankings with a win, it might just be a fitting end to a season that has reconfimed Garcia as an elite world golfer.
Fowler is catching form at just the right moment with top five finishes in his last five starts as well as recording top five finishes in all the majors this year too. With the help of Butch Harmon, Rickie has become a big game player. All that’s left is to chalk up a few firsts in the win column. Only McIlroy comes into the playoffs with a better recent record.
Of course if McIlroy decides to continue his current form, it might just be all decided by the time the Playoffs hit Atlanta. But if Henrik Stenson’s win last year at the Deutsche Bank proved, there’s nothing quite like momentum at the FedExCup Playoffs. For at least thirty players there is still a whole lot to play for, including that sweet $10 million bonus.