FedEx Cup playoffs, explained: Updated standings, points format & more to know about golf’s 2020 championship
The 2019-20 PGA Tour is coming down the home stretch.
Only one event remains in the COVID-19-shortened PGA Tour season: the Tour Championship, the final event in the FedEx Cup playoffs, golf’s way of determining its champion for a given season. All 125 golfers in the initial field are given a one-year exemption to compete on the PGA Tour; winners of either of the first two playoff events receive a two-year exemption; and the overall winner receives a five-year exemption.
That said, not everyone made it past the first two playoff events: The Northern Trust, where the field was whittled down to 70; and the BMW Championship, which sliced the field to 30 for the Tour Championship. Only the best golfers on the planet are guaranteed an opportunity at the PGA Tour’s highest prize.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2020 FedExCup, including standings, rules and points formats, schedules and payouts:
With the conclusion of the BMW Championship — the second playoff event of the PGA Tour 2019-20 season — the field of golfers has been reduced to 30 for the season-ending Tour Championship. Dustin Johnson is projected to enter the playoff finale in first place in the FedEx Cup standings, 391 points ahead of second-place golfer Jon Rahm, who won the BMW Championship in a playoff over Johnson with a 66-foot putt.
Here are the 30 golfers to make the 2020 Tour Championship following the BMW Championship:
The PGA Tour regular season leads to the FedEx Cup playoffs, with each official event awarding points to golfers who made the 36-hole for a given tournament. The top 125 golfers in points earnings at the end of the regular season (the Wyndham Championship) are eligible to compete in the playoffs.
The playoffs begin with The Northern Trust, with golfers aiming to make it past the weekend cut so they can earn additional FedEx Cup points. Even those golfers who don’t make the cut, however, can still advance as long as they finish among the top 70 golfers in combined FedEx Cup points from the regular season and Northern Trust. From there, the FedEx Cup moves to the BMW Championship, which allows all participants to play through the entire four-round tournament. Only the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings can move on to the final event of the season: the Tour Championship.
The ultimate goal is to win the Tour Championship, which not only nets a massive payday but also provides PGA Tour exemption for the following five seasons. That golfer also has bragging rights as the golfer of the year for that year.
Each official PGA Tour event awards points to golfers who at least made the 36-hole cut at any given tournament. Winners at regular PGA Tour events earn 500 FedEx Cup points; winners at any of the four majors or The Players win 600 points; winners at the World Golf Championships earn 550 points. For any PGA Tour events played opposite the WGC or majors, the winner earns 300 points.
Once in the playoffs, potential point earnings are increased by a factor of three, meaning the winner of either of the first two playoff events will pick up 1,500 FedEx Cup points, as opposed to 500 (PGA Tour officials decreased the 2020 playoff from a factor of four to a factor of three due to the COVID-19-shortened season). Points earned in those events are added to a player’s regular season tally, with the field for subsequent playoff events (top 70 for BMW Championship, top 30 for Tour Championship) determined on the combined points.
(A full breakdown of playoff points distributions is available here).
The Tour Championship wipes the slate clean in terms of FedEx Cup standings. That said, the Tour in 2019 introduced a handicap model that gives higher-seeded golfers a significant advantage over the other competitors at the start of the tournament. The golfer with the best score at the conclusion of the Tour Championship, handicaps included, is named champion.
The Northern Trust — known formerly as the Barclays — is the first of the FedEx Cup playoff events. It is limited to a 125-player field, based off FedEx Cup standings from the current PGA Tour. Though it features a weekend cut, it still allows players who finish in the top 70 of the standings to advance to the BMW Championship. Johnson won the tournament on Sunday with a 30-under-par performance, netting him 1,500 FedEx points and vaulting him to the top of the leaderboard.
The BMW Championship, formerly known as the Western Open, is the penultimate FedEx Cup tournament, featuring the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings (including ties) as determined by The Northern Trust. This event is distinct in that it doesn’t feature a 36-hole cutoff; all 70-plus players invited play through the entire four-round event, with only the top 30 players among the FedEx Cup standings moving on to the Tour Championship.
The Tour Championship represents not only the final event of the FedEx Cup Playoff, but also the final event of the 2019-20 PGA Tour (though previously scheduled events will be held later this year as part of the 2020-21 season). It will take place at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, which has hosted the event since 2004.
The tournament in 2019 adopted a handicap system to ensure its winner would also be the FedEx Cup champion: The player with the most FedEx Cup points at the start of the tournament will earn the No. 1 overall seed starting at 10-under par, with the 2-seed starting at 8 under and so on. Below is the full handicap system:
The winner of the 2020 FedEx Cup stands to make an outrageous sum of money, even by PGA Tour standards. In 2019, Rory McIlroy earned $15 million in prize money for winning the Tour Championship: the single-highest payout in golf history.
The 2019 FedEx Cup purse was an absurd $70 million, which included a $10 million regular-season bonus pool awarded to the top 10 golfers in the FedEx Cup Standings through the Wyndham Championship (the final event of the season before the playoffs). In all, the final 30 golfers split $45 million over the Tour Championship.
(Full FedEx Cup money distribution is available here).
Below is a full breakdown of the 2019 prize and payouts:
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