Tuesday’s golf: FedEx playoffs get makeover

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Atlanta — The bonus pool for the PGA Tour postseason doubles next year to $70 million in a revamped system that gives a head start to top players at the Tour Championship and pays $15 million to the FedEx Cup champion.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Tuesday the changes were designed to make the FedEx Cup finale easier for fans to understand and to avoid the potential for separate winners of the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup.

“You take these changes and you combine them with the new and improved schedule, and we think this is a significant step forward,” Monahan said.

The changes include a more compact schedule next season that ends Aug. 25, a week before football begins. The top 10 players in the FedEx Cup during the regular season are part of a separate $10-million bonus program that pays $2 million to the No. 1 player. The FedEx Cup playoffs are reduced from four events to three, with the winner of the Tour Championship being the FedEx Cup champion.

One of the concerns is essentially handicapping the field for the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake. Instead of everyone starting the first round on the same score, the No. 1 seed starts at 10 under par, with the No. 2 player at 8 under, then 7 under, 6 under and 5 under. The next group of five players are at 4 under, all the way down until the final five players in the 30-man field are at even par.

The winner is determined by score to par, not 72-hole score.

“We now have a single leaderboard,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief of operations.

Under the current system that ends this week, points are reset going into the Tour Championship so all 30 players have a mathematical chance to win the FedEx Cup, and the top five only have to win the tournament to capture the $10 million bonus.

A year ago, Xander Schauffele won the Tour Championship and Justin Thomas, the runner-up, won the FedEx Cup. It was the second time there were two winners on Sunday. The other was in 2009, when Phil Mickelson won the tournament and Tiger Woods won the FedEx Cup.

Bill Haas at No. 25 had the lowest seed of any FedEx Cup winner when he won in 2011.

Pazder said the Tour applied the new model to the previous 11 years and the same player won every FedEx Cup except for 2011.

The Tour said there would not be a separate purse for the Tour Championship.

The other big change was the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 program, which pays out $10 million to the top 10 players in the regular season.

Gillis qualifies

Lake Orion’s Tom Gillis, after a tough showing at the Ally Challenge, on Tuesday qualified for the next Champions Tour event by winning his qualifier with a 7-under 65.

This week’s Sanford International in Sioux Falls, S.D., will mark his fourth Champions Tour appearance since turning 50 in July. He has finished tied for third twice, and at the Ally in Grand Blanc finished 73rd.