The FedEx Cup format will undergo a radical change starting with the 2018-2019 PGA Tour season, and it means fewer playoff tournaments, more money (lots more money) and a simplified, albeit controversial, season finale with a new Tour Championship format.
The PGA Tour announced these changes ahead of the 2018 Tour Championship, cementing details behind what has already been announced and confirming reporting already done on some of these changes.
The first big change is in the size of the FedEx Cup bonus pool and its payouts. Starting in 2019, the FedEx Cup bonus pool will increase by $25 million to $60 million total, with the FedEx Cup winner getting $15 million, up from the $10 million paid out since the concept started in 2007. This means 150 players will get a share of a nearly doubled bonus pool starting next season.
In addition, the PGA Tour announced the creation of the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 bonus pool. This separate $10 million bonus pool will pay out to the top 10 finishers in the final FedEx Cup regular season points list after the Wyndham Championship. The winner will get $2 million, and the payouts will stagger down to $500,000 for 10th place.
The FedEx Cup playoffs will be reduced from four events to three, with the Dell Technologies Championship exiting the schedule to allow for a pre-Labor Day season finish. The top 125 players in the final FedEx Cup regular season points list will qualify for The Northern Trust. After The Northern Trust, the top 70 players in points will qualify for the BMW Championship. After the BMW Championship, the top 30 players in points will qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta. As has been the case since 2009, The Northern Trust and BMW Championship will continue to offer quadruple FedEx Cup points compared to regular season events.
Once the top 30 players are set for the Tour Championship in Atlanta, the FedEx Cup points system will be thrown out the window. The Tour Championship format will fundamentally become that of a handicap tournament, with the top seed entering East Lake starting the tournament on 10-under total before a shot is struck. The remaining 29 players in the field will start on staggered positions, down to even par for Nos. 26-30 in the seeding:
- No. 1: -10
- No. 2: -8
- No. 3: -7
- No. 4: -6
- No. 5: -5
- Nos. 6-10: -4
- Nos. 11-15: -3
- Nos. 16-20: -2
- Nos. 21-25: -1
- Nos. 26-30: E
From there, the 72-hole Tour Championship will play out as a normal tournament, with the scoring and handicapping combining to determine the winner of the Tour Championship, who will also be crowned the FedEx Cup champion. The Tour Championship will count as an official PGA Tour win as well.
The Tour Championship format changes were designed to make it easier for fans to understand who will win the FedEx Cup, eschewing the tournament-within-a-tournament idea which has confused viewers as to who's winning the Tour Championship and what that could mean for the FedEx Cup.