Tour looking at how to distribute FedEx Cup points

The money list is getting plenty of attention at PGA Tour headquarters this year.

The tour's policy board last month finally voted to eliminate the money list for exempt status for the following season. The top 125 have been fully exempt since 1983, and if the latest proposal is ratified at the June board meeting, only the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings will be fully exempt after the 2016-17 season.

But more work lies ahead.

Andy Pazder, the chief of operations, said the tour is looking into a change in the way points are distributed at each tournament so there is a steeper drop beyond the top 10. Since the FedEx Cup began in 2007, it has been out of sync with the money distribution.

One issue with the FedEx Cup has been the perception that it rewards a middle-of-the-road performance. One player who stood out, through no fault of his own, was William McGirt in 2011. McGirt had only three finishes in the top 30 in during the regular season - his best was a tie for 19th in Mexico - and he grabbed the 125th and final spot for the start of the playoffs.

McGirt tied for 24th in The Barclays to advance to the next playoff event before his FedEx Cup run ended in Boston. That was before the wraparound season began, when only the top 125 on the money list earned their cards. McGirt had to play four times in the fall to try to move into the top 125. He finished 141st and had to go back to the old Q-school (and he made it).

That's just one example.

What causes the tour to look at the distribution are questions whether top finishes are properly rewarded.

Here's the best money-to-points example for a $5.9 million purse. A player who finished ninth and missed the cut would earn $171,000, while a player who had a pair of 30th-place finishes would make $80,240. But if FedEx Cup points were applied, the player with a pair of 30th-place finishes would have more points (82) than the player who was ninth (80) and missed the cut.

For money, the tour has operated on a model in which the winner gets 18 percent of the purse. But assuming only 70 players made the cut in a regular PGA Tour event, 3513 points are distributed, meaning the winner gets only 14.24 percent.

The tour has not indicated what kind of formula it is looking at it, but the goal is to be more top-heavy with points.

One other glaring example: The difference in points between finishing fifth and seventh is equal to the difference in finishing 30th and 50th.

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DECHAMBEAU'S START: Byron DeChambeau didn't feel any differently at Hilton Head as the previous 12 professional events he played, even with the $259,600 he earned in his pro debut.

The NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion has been preparing for this moment. The RBC Heritage was his eighth tournament dating to a runner-up finish in the Australian Masters last year. He has yet to miss the cut during that stretch, so going from a tie for 21st in the Masters to a tie for fourth at the RBC Heritage was simply progress.

''The whole reason we had this internship, per se, is so that I could feel comfortable through the transition,'' DeChambeau said. ''And I think we've done that beautifully. It was nice to finish it off pretty well here and get a top-10 finish.''

DeChambeau gets seven sponsor exemptions to earn the equivalent of 150th on the FedEx Cup last year (361 points). That would earn him special temporary membership and unlimited exemptions. He would need to finish equal to the top 125 this year to earn a full card for next season.

He would have earned 122.5 points from Hilton Head, putting him one-third of the way toward unlimited exemptions. Plus, his top 10 meant he doesn't have to use one at the Valero Texas Open this week.

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LEFTY FOWLER: Rickie Fowler returned to the TPC Sawgrass last week to relive his eagle-birdie-birdie finish in regulation at The Players Championship, and his three birdies in one day (two in a playoff) on the island-green 17th. If only it were that easy.

The PGA Tour had Fowler hit one tee shot on the 17th hole with a left-handed club, and another while blindfolded. He hit land both times.

Most peculiar is that the left-handed clubs in his bag looked as though they had been used before. And they had.

''I have a lefty set at home,'' Fowler said. ''I played once in a while. I'll mess around with them. I think it's great to have symmetry.''

He said he has played only one round from the other side, and that was at Jupiter Country Club with Cameron Tringale, from the back tees.

''I shot 110,'' Fowler said. ''And that was counting everything.''

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LUKE'S LUCK: Luke Donald has been runner-up four times and third on two other occasions at Hilton Head, all without ever winning the tartan jacket.

It could be worse.

Dating to 1960, Jack Nicklaus had nine top 3s at the Canadian Open without ever winning. Donald could also consider the plight of Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson. Norman had six top 3s in the Masters without ever winning, while Mickelson has had six runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open, the only major keeping him from the career Grand Slam.

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PLAYOFFS AND OPENERS: When the NFL begins its season, there are only three big golf tournaments on the schedule.

The PGA Tour returns to Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis for the BMW Championship, which drew huge crowds in 2012 even in soggy conditions. The final round will go up against the Indianapolis Colts' opening the season at home against the Detroit Lions with a mid-afternoon start.

The Atlanta Falcons are out of town during the Tour Championship at East Lake (on a Monday night against New Orleans). And while the Minnesota Vikings are at home during the Ryder Cup, they have a Monday night game against the New York Giants.

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DIVOTS: As expected, Masters champion Danny Willett has joined the PGA Tour. He has a five-year exemption and now is No. 27 in the FedEx Cup standings. ... Anthony Paolucci earned his first professional victory last week on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica in Argentina at Cordoba Golf Club. The field included Angel Cabrera and both his sons. All three from the Cabrera family missed the cut. ... The ISPS Handa Cup for the Legends Tour is being postposed this year because the company wants to move it overseas for the first time in its 10-year history. ... Bubba Watson is making his sixth appearance in China this week at the Shenzhen International.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: No one older than 23 has won on the LPGA Tour this year.

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FINAL WORD: ''Winning is the hardest thing to do. That's why so few people do it.'' - Russell Knox.

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