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The Playoffs

The embryonic idea of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs was hatched in 2006 and first played for at the end of the 2007 season. The year-long points race where players accumulated points each week with the top 125 making it to the first of four play-off events.

Essentially what the PGA Tour was doing was piggy-backing the enormous success that professional football, basketball and baseball have enjoyed with their play-offs and to a lesser extent sports like Nascar who similarly to the PGA Tour were newcomers to the party.

And like so many copy-cat things, the FedEx Cup has never really captured the golf public’s complete attention. The prizemoney is staggering with the winner of this year’s four event race receiving a whopping US 10M in bonus prizemoney (they also win regular prizemoney during each event).

Over the last 12 years, the format and conditions have been tweaked, re-tweaked and then tweaked some more before settling on what we have today. Some of the game’s greatest players have won the event: Tiger Woods (the only two-time champion in 2007 and 2009), Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas last year. It has also been captured by journeymen professionals, who while they have had successful careers, claiming the pot of gold at the foot of the FedEx rainbow were life-changing: Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel.

This year’s four events are at The Northern Trust Open where the top 125 players on the yearlong race qualify. The field is then whittled down to 100 players for the second event, the Dell Technologies Championship. They are then paired to 70 contestants for the third event, the BMW Championship before shrinking to the best 30 for the TOUR Championship.

The first 2018 event winner was up and coming American star, Bryson DeChambeau, who decimated the field at the Northern Trust Open last weekend at Ridgewood Country Club in NY with a four shot victory over Tony Finau. It was the precocious and eccentric 24-year old’s second win of the year (he captured the Memorial) and the third of his young career which we have been watching for a while https://www.birdgolf.com/the-golf-scientist/

It also vaulted DeChambeau into the top of the FedEx standings after the first event (the points increase for each subsequent event).

DeChambeau was however on the outside looking in on the S.S. team’s Ryder points race which had finished the week before. DeChambeau was in 9th place in the standings. 8 out the 12 players are selected automatically after a two year points race while the other four players are selected by the U.S. Captain, Jim Furyk. But DeChambeau is a virtual certainty to be among the Captain’s picks along with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

After the third round of the second play-off event, the Dell Technologies at the TPC Boston, DeChambeau was right in the thick of things again. He was tied in second place with England’s Tyler Hatton at 11-under one shot behind the overnight leader, Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

A flurry of players made Sunday charges on Monday (the Dell Technologies tournament is the only event of the PGA Tour schedule that deliberately finishes on a Monday) but ultimately DeChambeau would ward them all off. His closing 4-under was good enough to give him a 2 stoke victory over England’s Justin Rose.

In 2015, DeChambeau became only the fifth player in history to win both the NCAA Division I championship and the U.S. Amateur in the same year. With this latest landmark, the 24-year old became only the fourth player in history, (the others are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus) to have accomplished that rare double and to have won 4 Tour events by their 25th birthday.

Heady stuff for a guy in the Hogan hat who signs his signature left-handed (he is right handed).