The Bet Enthusiast Report
Tiger Woods is the only player to win the FedEx Cup more than once in the seven year history of the concept and as the world number and top point’s scorer looks the most likely winner of this year’s renewal. Despite disappointing in the majors Woods has won five regular tournaments this season on the PGA Tour and is favourite to receive the massive bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.
When the FedEx Cup was contested in 2007 it was the first time men’s professional golf had a play-off system. The rules have been continually adjusted to make the event more attractive to sponsors and broadcasters. The key change was in the scoring system which made it certain that the winner is not decided before the final event of the series, the Tour Championship.
Brandt Snedeker won the FedEx Cup last season and the ten million dollar bonus. However, Rory McIlroy won two of the four events and was one of a number of players that could still win the FedEx ahead of the final qualifying event. The new rules prevented a repeat of the 2008 scenario when Vijay Singh had accumulated enough points in the first three play-of events to guarantee that he would win the Cup by simply finishing in the final event.
Another rules amendment means that FedEx Cup points determine the top 125 to keep their playing privileges for next season, rather than the final standings in the money list at the end of the year. One of the objectives of the FedEx Cup is to create more events that attract the best players. The organisers of the first event, The Barclays, will be pleased that the top 20 players in the world rankings are playing this week.
There are four tournaments in the play-off series with players eliminated in each successive week. Players qualify for each tournament through finishing positions in the previous week. The climax of the whole series is the Tour Championship in three weeks for which only the top 30 players in the point’s classification qualify.
This year’s Tour Championship is the final event of an abridged season. In the past the Fall Series has consisted of several events after the Tour Championship for those still trying to secure their card for the following season. Changes to the Tour structure means thee are now no more regular tournaments after the Tour Championship.
However, that does not mean the end of PGA Tour golf during the autumn. Beginning this year the regular season will begin in the October of the previous year. This means we have a bizarre situation in which the first event of the 2014 season takes place this October. This will affect exemptions and the tournaments in which those outside the top 125 have opportunities to play.
In the last three years the winner of the Tour Championship has also won the FedEx Cup. This is what the sponsors and broadcasters prefer so the points system is skewed in favour of winners of the Tour Championship. Snedeker received more points for winning the final FedEx Cup qualifier than McIlroy did for winning two of the four.
The FedEx Cup playoff series begins this week with The Barclays, for which 125 players are eligible to play. The event is being staged at the Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey. This is just the second time the course has been used for this event over the last seven years so there is a limited amount of course form to assess. In 2009 the champion was Heath Slocum with Tiger Woods one of four players just one shot back.
At about 7400 yards the course is about average in length by modern standards. The demands of the course are fairly unique as players that are above average in length off the tee but consistent in terms of finding the greens in the correct number of shots will have an advantage, Good putting will also be important on greens that are above average in size. Many are protected by strategically placed hazards and the undulations also add to the degree of difficulty.
Adam Scott is the only player in the field in the top 25 for driving distance and greens in regulation. Given a decent week on the greens the Masters champion looks a leading contender. He won his first major at Augusta in April but has also contended at the last two majors. However, he had four successive bogeys in the final round of the Open, something he also did at Lytham last year.
Scott is part of a significant group of players who use a long putter and anchor it against their stomach. The long putter has not been made illegal but soon players will not be allowed to rest it against their body when making the putting stroke. Recent major champions like Scott, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Ernie Els will have to modify their technique.
Henrik Stenson is another player who excels when there is a premium on finding the greens in the correct number of shots. He is currently second on the US Tour for greens in regulation but also above average in length. Stenson is now playing the type of golf that took him to a career high of number four in the rankings. He has figured in the last two majors and comes in the category of “winner about to happen.”
The same could be said oz Zach Johnson who had another top 10 in the Wyndham Championship. He was the first round leader in the Open Championship and eventually finished sixth. He has the accuracy skills to prosper at Liberty National but his GIR stats are offset by his lack of length of the and the continuation of a busy schedule.
Woods is not in the top 50 for driving distance but this week. gives him an opportunity to use the driver without the threat of inaccuracy causing an almost inevitable bogey. On finding the greens n regulation and with a hot putter he can win for the sixth time this season.