News & Opinion

Where does the FedEx Cup playoff series rank in your pecking order of pro golf’s biggest events?

WGC Fedex
The WGC Fedex St. Jude Invitational trophy on display during the 1st round at the WGC Fedex, TPC Southwinds, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. 25/07/2019. Picture Ken Murray / All photo usage must carry mandatory copyright credit (© Golffile | Ken Murray)

Hawk and Rude discuss and debate this hot topic

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Jeff Rude are co-hosts of a weekly podcast, Hawk & Rude, in which they discuss and debate the hottest issues in golf. They also share their takes in this weekly installment.

John Hawkins

Hawk’s take: What’s more interesting, the origin of the term “pecking order” or a month’s worth of breathless updates on the latest changes in the projected FedEx Cup standings? The guy who wins the $15 million will hit at least 800 golf shots in August before his driver backs the Brink’s truck up to the loading dock at East Lake. If you want manufactured drama, turn on CNN.

Fake news = fake suspense, but for all the problems in the world these days, the PGA Tour’s so-called postseason isn’t one of them. It’s just a harmless contrivance. The majors matter most, obviously, and if Europe hadn’t been so disrespectful to Uncle Sam over the past 25 years, the Ryder Cup would be right there with the big four. It’s just hard to take any competition seriously when you’re pretty sure about the outcome.

That leaves the Players Championship, the WGC series and the playoffs. All creations from Camp Ponte Vedra, all lacking the depth of history owned by the aforementioned gatherings, and of course, all armed with a massive prize fund. They’re nice events, with little implication on the game’s big picture. Money for nothing is a great song, but it doesn’t play well in pro sports, especially golf, in which a player once had to sing for his supper.

Now, everyone’s fat and happy. And I still wouldn’t know a pecking order if it struck me on the nose.

Jeff Rude

Rude’s take: Right after the four major championships, Ryder Cup, Players and probably the World Golf Championships. It has undergone more tweaks over a dozen years than Cher and Heidi Montag combined and thus looks prettier, if nowhere near perfect.

The playoffs will get more attention in August away from football and will be more volatile because of the reduction to three events. And the finale will be less confusing because of a strokes-based format and no more chance of two different winners (Tour Championship and FedEx Cup).

Yes, the playoff series is a showy cash grab, an idea stolen from NASCAR, with a boost to $15 million for the winner. But like the WGCs, its value lies in that fact that the world’s best players are pitted against one another more often. In the case of the playoffs, they offer meaningful golf in what used to be a dead zone after the PGA Championship, when top players would disappear for at least a couple of months. So, this is better for fans. And for players’ bank accounts.