The Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup have been intertwined since 2007, with the season-long points race coming to a head at East Lake in Atlanta. Now, the Tour Championship format is changing to make it finally easy for fans to understand exactly what a player has to do to win the FedEx Cup and the increased $15 million first-place payout.
Beginning with the 2019 Tour Championship, the tournament as we've known it will cease to exist. The Tour Championship will retain its name, and there will be a 30-player field in Atlanta. However, the tournament format will now fundamentally be that of a handicap tournament. The top seed in the FedEx Cup playoffs after the second leg at the BMW Championship will enter the Tour Championship starting on 10 under par before they ever hit a shot, giving them a staggered edge over the remaining 29 players in the field, who will start at different scores:
- 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
This means, for the No. 30 seed to win the Tour Championship, they'll have to overcome a 10-shot deficit at the start of the tournament. It sounds kind of out of left field. However, this staggered, strokes-based starting format means the end of the era of the FedEx Cup points reset, which gave all 30 players a mathematical chance of winning the FedEx Cup through the Tour Championship, including giving the top five players the FedEx Cup if they won the Tour Championship. Now, the points won't matter at the Tour Championship. The only that will matter is who wins the Tour Championship. Whoever wins the Tour Championship will be the FedEx Cup champion.
There are some questions, however. Winning the Tour Championship will count as an official PGA Tour victory, though that's a bit strange. Also, it's unclear if the Official World Golf Ranking will offer points in the same way as they have in the past to this 30-man tournament. In 2017, Xander Schauffele earned 60 first-place OWGR points for his win, but will the OWGR offer similar points to a player who could win the tournament with a 10-shot head start?
These changes are a part of a broader set of changes to the FedEx Cup format and prize money payouts, including going from four playoff events to three, increasing the total FedEx Cup prize pool from $35 million to $60 million, as well introducing the Wyndham Rewards Top 10, which is a $10 million bonus pool for the top 10 finishers in the FedEx Cup regular season points list, with a $2 million bonus going to the winner.