Picture Imperfect

The FedEx Cup is good fun, but it could use a little more focus
September 16, 2007

The FedEx Cup is ahit. It has problems, but give it time, people. Bobby Jones had a hard timegetting members when he opened Augusta National.

The first week,the Barclays at old Westchester, Tiger's absence was actually a good thing. Hegave everybody else a chance. In Tiger's place, the most moving comeback storyof the year unfolded, the triumphant return of Steve Stricker. David Feherty,on the scene for CBS, was practically crying, and the man has a b.s. detectorfor fake emotion that's bigger than K.J. Choi's driver.

The second week'sDeutsche Bank featured the thing we've all been waiting for: Phil versus Tiger,and it was played on an improved, sporty and handsome-looking course, TPCBoston. The result--Phil outplaying Tiger--was close to shock city. Then lastweek the BMW Championship near Chicago brought the seemingly inevitable returnto the top by golf's colossus, Woods himself.

For the finale,it's back to the old capital of the New South (Atlanta) and East Lake, theplace where Jones took up the game a century ago. Very cool. The golf seasonalways used to drift away, the final punctuation being Fred Couples playing forfunny money among the cacti. Now the Tour Championship means way more than itever did.

Maybe you'resaying, Well, you could have those four events without all the breathlesscommercials hyping the thing and without the complicated point scheme. Buthaving the four events linked, that's the thing that someday will make itreally work. It's already making us pay attention. Bam, bam, bam, bam--fourgood ones, all in a row, and you think of them as a whole.

The problem isthat the points formula is too complicated. Professional golf has always hadperfect bookkeeping--money and scores, scores and money--and there's no reasonto change now.

Here's a quickfix. The top 144 off the money list qualify to play the first week. Afterthe second round, cut to the top 90--and have ties play off. If you missthe cut, you're done for the next three weeks. Guys will be puking their gutsout on Friday afternoon at Westchester, and it'll be one of the best days ofthe year. In the second week, cut from 90 to 72 on Friday. More fun and games.For the last two events, stay at 72. There will be only one exception: The top20 from the year, before Westchester, can take one week off during theplayoffs.

At the TourChampionship offer two $5 million cash prizes. The low man for 72 holesgets $5 million. He's your Tour Championship winner. And the low man forhis best 12 of the 16 playoff rounds gets $5 million too--and he's yourFedEx Cup winner. Some years the winner of one will be the winner of the other.Good. Other years you'll have two winners. Also good.

If Tiger or Philwants to skip a week, no problem. But Steve Stricker and K.J. Choi and VijaySingh are going to play all 16 rounds. Choi's 12 best of 16 have a good chanceof being lower than Tiger's dozen. Part of the problem with golf right now isthat Tiger's too good. This way more guys would have a chance. If Tiger didn'twant to give them that edge, he could simply play all 16 rounds. His thing hasalways been to outwork everybody anyhow, right?

Either way, theTour Championship becomes way more interesting. It already is. You can build onthat.

TRUST ME

by JAMES P. HERRE

American Tour pros could learn a thing or two from theU.S. Solheim Cuppers.

New Math

Tiger Woods reportedly signs a $100 million deal withGatorade

MARKETABILITY - CREDIT + MORTGAGE + COLLEGE + FUEL =SUDDEN THIRST

PHOTOVINCENT LAFORET (EAST LAKE)GRAND FINALE Jones's home course, East Lake, will host a newly intriguing Tour Championship. SIX PHOTOSMICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (WOODS); CHUCK SOLOMON (AMEX); DAMON HIGGINS/PALM BEACH POST/ZUMA PRESS (WOODS COMPOUND); GRETCHEN DOW MASHKURI/WIREIMAGE.COM (TIGER AND SAM WOODS); MARC SEROTA/REUTERS (WOODS YACHT); CMS PHOTO (GATORADE)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)