Congratulations to professional golfer Brandt Snedeker, who won the Wyndham Championship on Sunday with a stunning two-point victory over the field. Perhaps I should make that, "won with a final score of 266, 22 under par," besting his nearest challenger, Tim Petrovic, who finished at 268, 20 under par. Petrovic tied with Billy Mayfair and Jeff Overton, both of whom shot 268. And, as exciting as that was, here comes Carl Pettersson and Greg Kraft, two swarthy golfing pros to round off the top six finishers, which is news too big to hold.
See, the Greensboro's Wyndham Championship was the last chance for Tour golfers to earn points that would allow them to qualify for the FedEx Cup, the PGA Tour's new and novel playoff format stolen from NASCAR's Nextel Cup. And qualifying for the Tour's playoffs is important, not to mention heart-stopping, save for the absence of 24 of the top 25 PGA Tour's money leaders at the Wyndham Championship. The odd man out of the 25, the man who actually attended, was the winner, Mr. Brandt Snedeker.
You can feel magic in the air, and if you can't feel it, stop by pgatour.com and read the enthralling story found underneath the headline, Playoffs excitement reaching peak with players. And you know it is.
The PGA Tour tacked on a playoff season that is so complex, few understand it, and those who do decide explaining how it works is not worth the effort. To begin, the FedEx Cup is based on a cheat. The PGA Tour cynically figured, correctly, the media are so superficial that saying the winner's prize is a $10,000,000 annuity, one that doesn't pay out until the lucky recipient reaches the age of 45, is too complex for the dumb public to grasp. So, instead of writing that, the corporate press shakes its collective head and puts down, "$10,000,000 prize," thereby greatly inflating the perceived value of said FedEx Cup in the sports consumer's mind.
Looking at it one way, 20 years from now, throwing in historical inflation, the value of the FedEx Cup's $10,000,000 purse would be worth something on the order of $4.5 million 2007 dollars. That's assuming this year's winner is still alive in 2027, the PGA Tour still tours, FedEx keeps its wallet open, and a generation of lawyers hasn't figured a way to get at it.
Looking at it another way, 100 dollars earning 5 percent interest that is paid yearly would equal $165.33 after 20 years. So, sponsors would only have to put in a fraction of $10,000,000 in order to have that sum mutate into the announced purse in 20 years' time.
Two details: It's not an annuity. The PGA Tour recently announced it was deferred compensation. I smell the presence of a lawyer. And, the entire $35 million FedEx Cup pot is deferred compensation that will be sunshiny news to the men who finish second, third, fourth, and on down the line.
What we have is playground rules. Here's the deal the PGA Tour is giving their members: "You play four tournaments in four weeks (nobody does that anymore), and I'll sell that to television for big, big bucks. I'll take the money and media exposure now and pay you in 20 years."
I'm not necessarily against this, provided we can expand the concept into the world of my creditors. Perhaps add in my grocery store, electric and cable companies, and so on.
But, to get back to the FedEx Cup... For people who haven't followed this, and I hope that's everybody, the race for the FedEx Cup begins this week with the Barclays at Westchester, New York, then the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, then the BMW Championship close by Chicago, finishing up with the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Unbeknownst to Americans -- including most PGA Tour golfers -- the excitement has been building all year. From January's Mercedes Championship to Sunday's Wyndham Championship, there have been 36 tournaments, and points have been awarded at every one. Some tournaments give out more points than other tournaments. Some people are nicer than other people. That's life and there's no reason to dirty ourselves with details.
At the end of the regular season all the points are added up, and the top 144 players are invited into the postseason. Then, all the points are reset so the guy who earned the most points during the regular season, Tiger Woods, gets 100,000, the second place guy gets 99,000 points, on down to lucky number 144, who gets 84,000 points.
Detractors will point out that any playoff scheme that takes more than two sentences to explain is a loser. Any playoff scheme that awards 100,000 points to any participant for any reason should be euthanized. And any playoff scheme that doesn't pay out on the spot is a joke. More of this anon.