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The Numbers Game: FedEx Cup Points


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By Dave Koster via TheSandTrap.com
The FedEx Cup is coming next year but that doesn't mean we can't take a peek this year as to how the points system will work. There are a few things that can be tweaked, but it should be fun and interesting to watch.

tng_title.gifNext year we get to witness the "NASCAR-ization" of the PGA Tour. The guys in the big offices of the PGA headquarters wanted to make the end of the year more exciting than watching paint dry, watching people struggle to keep their PGA Tour cards, and the occasional Michelle Wie sighting.



So what we will have is a points system unveiled last year that will determine a playoff field. The points will be reset for a final points chase. Is all this good for the PGA Tour? Is there a better way? I'll talk about that and more this week in The Numbers Game.

How it All Works
John Hawkins of Golf World was was able to shed some light on just exactly how next year's FedEx Cup points system will work. If you're lazy and don't want to click the link, I'll sum it up for you.



Every PGA Tour event will have points available. These points are allotted differently for different tournaments… but the difference is not very large. Here is the breakdown:



Normal PGA Tour events 25,000
World Golf Championships 26,250
Majors & Players Championship 27,500

Clearly, the PGA Tour was trying to stress the majors (and their own tournament) and the World Golf events, but with only a 10% bump, the majors are not stressed much at all. Much of the advantage will go to players who actually qualify for WGC events and majors, many of which have smaller fields or lack 36-hole cuts like regular Tour events.



At each tournament, points are distributed the same way prize money is distributed. Using that logic, here's a list of the points given for the top 10 finishers in a normal PGA Tour event:



Place Points
1 4500.0
2 2700.0
3 1700.0
4 1200.0
5 1000.0
6 900.0
7 837.5
8 775.0
9 725.0
10 675.0

Simple enough so far, right? But wait, there's more… To make the tail end of the PGA Tour season interesting, things change after the last major. After the Carolina Classic of Greensboro, the first tournament after the PGA Championship, the top 144 in these standings will enter the "Chase for the Cup." Instead of blanking everyone's point totals like NASCAR, the PGA Tour will re-allocate points from 1 to 144: player #1 will get 100,000 points, player #144 will get 84,000.



As if that wasn't enough, "Chase" tournaments also see a jump in available points: doubled to 50,000. PGA Tour officials hope that this will lead to more play by the bigger names on the PGA Tour, as they'll have to play - and play well - to maintain their slimmed-down leads. The field is then cut again for the season-ending Tour Championship. It's not yet known how many points will be available there, but it is known that the winner of the season-long championship receives $10,000,000.



Current Standings
So now that we better understand how the FedEx Cup will work, let's apply the logic above to the current year and see how the proposed points system is faring. Using the purse breakdown to extrapolate points would be easy if exactly 70 players made the cut every single week and didn't tie. The only way to get each player's percent for each week was to break it down into two tables.



First I had a base table with each tournament, it's points value and total purse. It looked something like this:



Tournament FedEx Points Purse
---------- ------------ -----
Mercedes Champ 25000 $5,400,000
Sony Open 25000 $5,100,000
Etc.

The other table shows the final standing for each player in each tournament. Using these tables, I could determine the % of the purse each player won in each tournament. I then multiplied that by the total points available for that tournament… and bingo, I have total points won for each player in each tournament.



Of course this is all based on the assumptions in Mr. Hawkins' article. If these are true, then as of May 22, 2006 the FedEx Cup standings are as follows:



1 Phil Mickelson 13942.17
2 Jim Furyk 12851.66
3 Stuart Appleby 12179.75
4 Tiger Woods 11212.58
5 Chad Campbell 10932.24
6 Rory Sabbatini 10854.34
7 Geoff Ogilvy 10315.07
8 David Toms 10165.51
9 Rod Pampling 8323.35
10 Vijay Singh 8288.59
11 Arron Oberholser 8167.87
12 Stephen Ames 7949.10
13 Luke Donald 7884.34
14 Retief Goosen 7453.92
15 Jose Maria Olazabal 7408.31
16 Trevor Immelman 7081.71
17 Lucas Glover 6811.56
18 Adam Scott 6721.73
19 Brett Wetterich 6649.58
20 Tim Herron 6146.58
21 Tim Clark 6104.75
22 Scott Verplank 5854.00
23 Aaron Baddeley 5636.24
24 Jerry Kelly 5628.65
25 J.B. Holmes 5619.26
26 Camilo Villegas 5487.81
27 Zach Johnson 5223.17
28 Mike Weir 5117.60
29 Billy Mayfair 5060.09
30 Kirk Triplett 4956.30
31 Vaughn Taylor 4938.52
32 Richard Johnson 4765.77
33 Davis Love III 4655.48
34 Chris Couch 4608.00
35 Nathan Green 4491.92
36 Bo Van Pelt 4461.51
37 Fred Funk 4126.33
38 Jesper Parnevik 4103.36
39 Carl Pettersson 4069.35
40 Greg Owen 4066.76
41 Bob Estes 4055.21
42 Tom Lehman 3952.13
43 J.J. Henry 3592.97
44 Stewart Cink 3542.81
45 Tom Pernice, Jr. 3536.09
46 Dean Wilson 3479.25
47 Ernie Els 3373.38
48 John Rollins 3236.62
49 Fred Couples 3221.05
50 Craig Barlow 3185.51
51 Brett Quigley 3182.02
52 Jonathan Byrd 3177.92
53 Charles Howell III 3114.73
54 K.J. Choi 2977.57
55 Sergio Garcia 2975.53
56 Steve Lowery 2970.50
57 Charley Hoffman 2953.24
58 Bubba Watson 2861.33
59 Ryan Palmer 2846.71
60 Ted Purdy 2841.11
61 Charles Warren 2715.82
62 Brian Gay 2710.81
63 Jason Bohn 2657.73
64 Pat Perez 2588.39
65 Nick Watney 2552.57
66 Ben Crane 2532.00
67 Shane Bertsch 2521.96
68 Fredrik Jacobso 2479.54
69 Daniel Chopra 2434.76
70 Heath Slocum 2432.57
71 Darren Clarke 2430.25
72 Steve Stricker 2402.75
73 Robert Allenby 2380.25
74 John Senden 2348.29
75 Duffy Waldorf 2345.55
76 Justin Leonard 2334.41
77 Dudley Hart 2325.66
78 Padraig Harrington 2316.19
79 Peter Lonard 2232.26
80 Jerry Smith 2174.46
81 Justin Rose 2142.27
82 Brian Davis 2128.75
83 Mathias Gronberg 2126.82
84 David Branshaw 2124.96
85 Bill Haas 2112.42
86 Rich Beem 2073.93
87 Lee Westwood 2068.75
88 Ryuji Imada 2040.14
89 David Howell 2020.25
90 J.L. Lewis 1916.64
91 Joey Sindelar 1903.63
92 Carlos Franco 1894.80
93 Doug Barron 1884.06
94 Shigeki Maruyama 1879.93
95 Joe Ogilvie 1872.97
96 Jeff Sluman 1862.62
97 Olin Browne 1858.70
98 Henrik Bjornstad 1847.64
99 Corey Pavin 1757.73
100 Shaun Micheel 1751.24
101 Arjun Atwal 1742.68
102 Bart Bryant 1726.66
103 Brandt Jobe 1703.98
104 Angel Cabrera 1687.75
105 Joe Durant 1668.56
106 Mathew Goggin 1664.85
107 Henrik Stenson 1663.50
108 Bernhard Langer 1623.05
109 Jason Gore 1615.10
110 Wes Short, Jr. 1598.74
111 Mark Wilson 1566.75
112 Briny Baird 1550.39
113 Jeff Gove 1538.00
114 Mark Calcavecchia 1536.23
115 Ian Poulter 1507.82
116 Omar Uresti 1504.75
117 Steve Flesch 1475.83
118 Chris DiMarco 1457.06
119 Michael Campbell 1453.52
120 Todd Fischer 1442.81
121 Jeff Maggert 1428.30
122 Jonathan Kaye 1400.90
123 John Huston 1369.58
124 Brad Faxon 1367.88
125 Kenny Perry 1365.96
126 Frank Lickliter II 1347.83
127 Hunter Mahan 1308.93
128 Tag Ridings 1293.55
129 Woody Austin 1286.43
130 Sean O'Hair 1194.39
131 Kevin Sutherland 1178.30
132 Stephen Leaney 1150.16
133 Nick O'Hern 1145.00
134 Paul Azinger 1122.21
135 Tim Petrovic 1085.83
136 Harrison Frazar 1051.55
137 Ben Curtis 1045.37
138 Danny Ellis 997.79
139 Tommy Armour III 984.42
140 Robert Gamez 913.93
141 Bubba Dickerson 906.24
142 D.A. Points 881.74
143 Brent Geiberger 860.06
144 John Cook 857.42
145 Troy Matteson 856.36
146 Cameron Beckman 814.25
147 Bob Tway 806.42
148 Steve Jones 787.20
149 Paul Goydos 776.45
150 Vance Veazey 770.50
151 Shingo Katayama 765.98
152 Chris Riley 761.44
153 Scott McCarron 756.54
154 Jeff Overton 753.44
155 Brian Bateman 737.18
156 Paul McGinley 731.00
157 David Duval 721.31
158 Kent Jones 712.61
159 Michael Allen 704.64
160 Robert Garrigus 701.70

That looks a lot like the money list, huh? It should, since the points are basically a reflection of the purse! The only way the two could vary is if someone does well in the "big" tournaments or vice versa. Curious, I looked at the top players to see if any had a large differential between their place on the money list and their place on the FedEx Cup points list. Here it is:



Player FedEx Money Diff
------ ----- ----- ----
Phil Mickelson 1 1 0
Jim Furyk 2 2 0
Stuart Appleby 3 3 0
Tiger Woods 4 5 -1
Chad Campbell 5 6 -1
Rory Sabbatini 6 7 -1
Geoff Ogilvy 7 4 +3
David Toms 8 8 0
Rod Pampling 9 12 -3
Vijay Singh 10 11 -1
Arron Oberholser 11 13 -2
Stephen Ames 12 9 +3
Luke Donald 13 14 -1
Retief Goosen 14 10 +4
Jose Maria Olazabal 15 15 0
Trevor Immelman 16 16 0
Lucas Glover 17 19 -2
Adam Scott 18 18 0
Brett Wetterich 19 17 +2
Tim Herron 20 20 0
Tim Clark 21 21 0
Scott Verplank 22 24 -2
Aaron Baddeley 23 26 -3
Jerry Kelly 24 36 -12
J.B. Holmes 25 27 -2
Camilo Villegas 26 22 +4
Zach Johnson 27 23 +4
Mike Weir 28 28 0
Billy Mayfair 29 32 -3
Kirk Triplett 30 57 -27
Vaughn Taylor 31 29 +2
Richard Johnson 32 30 +2

You can see that Kirk Triplett has managed to slide up 27 spots in the FedEx Cup standings. How did he do this? By winning the tournament that had the smallest purse this year, the Chrysler Classic of Tuscon. Guess who finished second in the same tournament? Yup, Jerry Kelly - the other player that has a large differential. Other than that, there isn't a player in the top 30 of the 32 of the money list that moved more than four spots either way.



What I Think
There are a couple of things I think can - or should - be done to make the FedEx Cup a bit more fair and fun. First off, instead of just assigning 25,000 points to all the "normal" tournaments, why not use strength of field to determine the amount of points assigned? This would reward players who play in tournaments, such as the Wachovia Championship, that attract more dominant players. Kirk Triplett's win came in an event in which the top 64 players in the world were competing elsewhere - in that same weekend's WGC Match Play Championship. If we want the best golfers at the top of the FedEx Cup at the end, don't reward someone for beating up on lesser competition. I'm fine with using the purse allocation method to assign points, but the total points shouldn't be the same week to week.



In addition to a strength-of-field factor, I'd like to see the PGA Tour implement a cut in the "Chase" tournaments. The first week, 144 compete. The next week, perhaps only the top 110 move on, and so forth. This would build drama as the series moved on, until the Tour Championship, where I think that the field should be limited to the top 30 and anyone that, with a win, could claim the title. I doubt that the person in 31st place will be within 5000 points of the leader, but it's conceivable and similar in concept to the dual cut on the PGA Tour - the top 70 and ties get in plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead.



At this point, I like the FedEx Cup and what I think it will do for the PGA Tour. I'm a bit nervous to see if any of the big names skip out like Phil did last year, but with a shortened schedule and more incentive - OK, 10 million more incentives - I think that next year will bring some excitement to the fall months on the PGA Tour.

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