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Sometimes, It's Just About the Money
Written By: Cathy Erickson on Sep 29 2011
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I not sure if Sam Johnson has completely warmed up to the whole FedEx Cup competition, but the fact that he gave a math geek like me a smile when I read is post last week gives me hope that he's at least giving the race for the Cup some consideration anyway.

It seems to me that the FedEx Cup has finally been "generally accepted" after several years of complaints and criticism...with some of those complaints being justified as they firgured out how to make it competitive until the end.  The other interesting thing that happened is that I think "idea" behind the cup isn't about being the "best player" anymore...they've sort of turned it into a "tour within a tour" and if you can survive to the final 30 you've got a chance (and I use the term "chance" loosely for most of the guys) to win $10 million.  That is one huge chunk of change!!  Bill Haas won $10 million of FedEx winnings last Sunday...heck, for him, it's like winning the lottery!  He was 25th coming into the event and according to Sam, he needed some serious stars to align in order to get this huge payday.  I bet he'd be the first to tell you that he's not the best player in the world right now, but he was the best for 4 days, and had to be WAY better than a host of players in order collect one giant check.

I feel bad that the Tour Championship itself is almost lost within the FedEx Cup format.  Bill Haas won both that day, but do we really even talk about the million + he won?  Not really.  But I guess that's what you get when you try to layer a competition on a competition.  I loved the fact that depending on how some people finished someone else could win the Cup...Webb Simpson had a chance to win it and he finished 22nd out of 30 on Sunday.  Luke Donald could have won the cup without winning if 2 or 3 other guys had finished differently.  It's a math geek's dream!  But in the end, what does being FedEx Cup Champion really mean?

With so many titles and accolades to be handed out to professional golfers, it's easy to think that being the FedEx Cup Champions really "means" something, but honestly, it think it's a money driven proposal.  It keeps the players playing week after week, because if they don't they fall off the leader board.  Keeping good players in fields helps get fans in the gates and helps sponsors make money.

And I think that's okay.  We already have a super duper complex calculation that figures out who the #1 player in the world is each week...bear in mind though that it takes 2 years worth of stats, ranks the "difficulty" of the event, and gives each finish a point value (along with some other secret formulas I'm sure) to figure out who has the highest point total.  It's quite an honor to be at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), but in my mind it's not really representing who the best player is "that week"...good heavens, Tiger was number #1 for weeks, even months, while he wasn't even playing.  The OWGR tells me who's been an overall great player lately, but let me tell you, don't bank on it for your fantasy teams every week!

Then there's the Official PGA Tour Money List...now this, I like.  But of course the major flaw in it is it doesn't represent the "world" and doesn't give you the best picture of who is the best each week, especially those guys that only come and play the Majors and a few other selected tournaments.  It used to be that the money list was all anyone talked about in terms of the best players...but it's almost taken a back seat to FedEx Cup points and OWGR rankings because golf has really gone global...and players seem to be more selective in when and where they play.

The Vardon Trophy is awarded to the PGA Tour player who has the lowest adjusted scoring average for a minimum of 60 rounds in a PGA Tour season.   Did I hear you ask who the Vardon Trophy winner was for 2010?  I'd be happy to tell you...Matt Kuchar!!  To me, this is a much overlooked stat that really gives you an idea of who has some serious game for the year.  Matt was the leading money winner last year, too!

Can we talk President's Cup/Ryder Cup for a minute or two?  Now that format of determining teams is another one that compiles 2 years worth of accomplishments (with an emphasis on the current year) to determine the point totals and the Top 10 make the team.  I would say more often than not the 10 guys are deserving, but if I had to guess, if the captain got to pick all 12 players, the rosters would probably be a little different.  I've wondered, do the guys really care about that Top 10 or would they be okay with each team just picking the guys...I mean, if you're playing great you shouldn't have tp worry, right?  And if you "earned" a spot for some great play 8 months ago and now you're in a slump, would you really want to be on the team? 

Another lesser known contest is the Kodak Challenge...players compete on 1 hole  for up to 30 events and they earn their lowest score on that hole for the event...you have to play at least 18 events where there is a challenge hole to qualify, and the guy with the lowest under par score wins a million bucks.   

Know who leading right now?  Me either... so I went and looked.

  • 1. Bill Lunde              20 holes played -17
  • 2. Cameron Tringale   20 holes played -15
  • 3. Blake Adams         22 holes played -14
  •     Josh Teater            21 holes played -14
  •     Jarrod Lyle             20 holes played -14
  •     Vaughn Taylor        20 holes played -14

Hmmm...not exactly the top of the OWGR leader board, huh.  Well, they don't include any Majors in this series, although they do include the Players.  There are still 4 events left in the fall series that have a hole, so I'd say all these guys have a chance.  All you have to do here is be great on 1 hole each week...Steve Flesh, who has played 18 holes is Even par...maybe he'll get on the committee to pick holes for next year.

Just a side bar on the Kodak Challenge - the 2nd year they did this they had a fantasy golf challenge - you picked guys each week and got the low score that they earned...it was kind of neat and it kept you following the event.  They ditched that this year, and frankly I haven't kept track at all this year...so Kodak, bring back your fantasy golf!!!

What was my point again?  Oh yeah, sometimes no matter how much we want to make something into "something"...we have to realize that maybe it's nothing more than a dash for the cash...and if that keeps fans watching and an excitement level up there, then I guess it's okay.

And don't forget!  Just because the FedEx Cup winner has been decided doesn't mean the season is over!  We've got the fall series, we've got the President's Cup (we'll talk about Steve Stricker's issues soon!) and don't forget about Q-school.  I'll take this week to Congratulate Bill Haas on his great win and HUGE payday, but now I'm getting excited to see who is going to keep their cards this year.

Enjoy Fall Golf!!




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About Cathy Erickson

Hi! I've found a little slice of golf heaven right here at Tees2Greens!! I love to talk about golf...both playing and the professional tours. I'm also fan of golf shopping, so I'll try to find some great deals for you, too! Living in Minnesota doesn't give me a big window to golf, but if the sun is out, I'm going to try to get out there! My friend Dan complained that I lied about my handicap, so just for him, my official USGA handicap is currently 6.4 (but it should be a 10!). Join in on all of the great conversations here - it's a great place to talk golf!

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