PGA tour rookie Xander Schauffele displayed some imperious golf coming from behind to win the Tour Championship title, at the weekend. A final round 68 was enough to claim victory by a stroke over fellow American Justin Thomas. Having also won the Greenbrier Classic, earlier in the season, Schauffele has all but guaranteed himself the rookie of the year award and looks set for a promising career at the top.
Nonetheless, his victory was overshadowed to some degree by the concurrent presentation of the FedEx Cup trophy, claimed by Justin Thomas. The last time this happened was back in 2009 when Phil Mickelson claimed the Tour Championship but lost the FedEx Cup to Tiger Woods who finished in second place.
The FedEx Cup points system is designed to distribute a set number of points to each competitor in every PGA tour event. First place gets 500 points, second place gets 300, third 190 and so on. There is a slightly heavier points weighting for Majors and World Golf Championship events, where the winners get 600 and 550 points, respectively. Throughout the course of a season, the standings are aggregated, leaving the very best players (top 120) to fight it out for the FedEx Cup trophy during the final four playoff events.
However, this method can at times lead to slightly counter-intuitive outcomes during the final events. For instance, it doesn’t seem right that Sergio Garcia, the Masters Champion, only narrowly scraped into the top 30 eligible to play at East Lake for the trophy. Yet, if we deal in hypotheticals for a moment, Paul Casey could have claimed the $10 million dollar prize fund with one single win at East Lake, whilst players such as Spieth and Thomas who have claimed multiple tour events this season and majors to boot would win nothing. From any perspective, the points system can at times leave fans and players scratching their heads.
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— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 26, 2017
Justin Thomas will not be concerned, and nor should he be. The Univesity of Alabama graduate was the most consistent player on the PGA tour throughout the 2017 season. Early victories in Hawaii and Malaysia laid the foundation for his success. Thomas was in the final group of the US Open, although he failed to capitalize on three low rounds, eventually finishing in a tie for 9th. It was perhaps fitting, however, that his major breakthrough would arrive at the PGA Championship; both Thomas’ Father and Grandfather were PGA professionals.
A second place finish, last weekend, was enough to secure him the FedEx Cup trophy, capping off a truly remarkable season. Close friend Jordan Spieth was the first to congratulate Thomas, admitting that he was the best player throughout the season and deserving of the overall prize.
Although Thomas’ victory may have somewhat overshadowed the magnificence of Schauffele’s performance, it is doubtful that such a scenario will repeat itself anytime soon. Regardless, golf is in an extremely healthy state right now, you only have to look at the two President’s Cup teams to realize just how many young and talented players are competing at the games highest level.