Sunday, September 13, 2009

What makes the FedEx Cup so unexciting

The Eye On Golf staff got to thinking the other day about why the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup is just so doggone unexciting. Why is it that each event seems like just another four-day, 72-hole PGA Tour golf tournament? Where is the spectator anxiety? Where is the sit on the edge of your seat and scream at the television exhilaration?

So, after lengthy discussion we think we have an answer (or perhaps two) to this most pertinent of golf questions. First no one, except maybe a few talking heads at PGA Tour Headquarters and a few golf scribes, really and truly understands the elimination system. This is the third year of the FedEx Cup and the third attempt at a working playoff system that will generate the ultimate champion. This year, when the third event of the playoffs ends on Sunday, the top thirty players in FedEx Cup point standings will move on to the Tour Championship in Atlanta just like in year past. However, at this watershed all the points that a player has earned throughout the season will be reset and the claim is that any player within the top five who wins the Tour Championship will win the FedEx Cup.

Of course, this has all kinds of nonsense scenarios wrapped up in it. A player could win all the money, lead the FedEx Cup point standings by a mile going into the Tour Championship and then lose the final event by one stroke and walk away without the precious Cup. Do you have a player in mind here?

Second, and perhaps most important, is that this playoff system doesn't generate any thrills except for the fabulous golf. Those actually attending one of these playoff events are there because the circus is in town and it's fun to go to watch the best players in the world. Those of us watching at home just want to see some good golf. We believe that the lack of excitement is due to the length of each “playoff game.” Each “elimination game” is four days long, much too long to generate any allure. The NFL playoffs which culminate in the Super Bowl are a one game, one day events. You don't have to go to the stadium for four days to find out who the winner is. NASCAR has a ten race finale, The Chase, that builds anticipation through each of the final ten races. Once again, each race is a one day event. Fans look forward to that one weekly experience that may make or break their favorite team or player. The sense of excitement and anticipation builds week to week.

The PGA Tour will not get to experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat until it figures out a way to generate that week-to-week excitement.

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