The Wyndham Championship today marked the end of the PGA Tour’s regular season, with the FedEx Cup playoffs about to kick off next week at the Barclays. Patrick Reed beat Jordan Spieth in a playoff to claim the Wyndham title and jump to 22nd in the FedEx Cup standings by gaining 500 points. I was excited at the beginning of the week to see if there would be some drama on the weekend regarding players cracking the top 125, but I was disappointed. Not one player did. Even Ben Crane, who started the week at 124 and had to retain his spot, missed the cut and still snuck into the playoffs at the 125th spot.
It’s pretty obvious that Spieth should claim the Rookie of the Year award for his play this year, regardless of what happens in the playoffs, but my dilemma is if the FedEx Cup is worth all the hype. Obviously the winner of the cup gets a truckload of money ($10 million) but is that what players really want? I’m sure if you asked Brandt Snedeker, last year’s FedEx Cup winner, if he would trade it for a major championship title. Also, I would want to ask Jim Furyk, the 2010 champion, what was more memorable or rewarding for him, the U.S. Open he won in 2003 at Olympia Fields, or the FedEx Cup. I’m quite sure he would say the U.S. Open. Last week I said a PGA Championship win for Furyk would put him at 17 career wins and 2 majors, tying Curtis Strange’s career record and almost ensuring a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame. I’m sure a fat paycheck doesn’t outweigh the feeling of winning a major.
Do you honestly think Phil Mickelson would trade his Claret Jug from the Open Championship for the FedEx Cup? (Scoff) I don’t think so. It’s weird to imagine that a $10 million prize is more or less a consolation prize for someone who plays well all season and doesn’t get a major, ahem, Tiger Woods.
Obviously this doesn’t pertain to players now, but do you think there are aspiring professional golfers who are on the practice green saying, ‘this is for the FedEx Cup.’ No, all young golfers joke around with their friends saying, this one is for the Masters, or the U.S. Open.
This “season-long” race depends almost all on the Tour Championship too. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of that either because you are judged at the end of your career by your win total and major championship titles. As prestigious as the FedEx Cup makes itself out to be, it’s not the most coveted trophy out there.
Yes, I am excited that I get to watch more golf this year, but I, and the players know that it’s just about money at this point. The FedEx Cup race will never inspire the passion that the majors do. Guys like Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, or Byron Nelson don’t have their names etched in that trophy, and I think that is why it bothers me. The FedEx Cup represents the materialism in society today, while a green jacket, U.S. Open trophy, Claret Jug, and even Wanamaker Trophy represent a pure love for the game of golf. I haven’t seen a player break down in tears for a FedEx Cup yet like the weight of the world was just lifted off their shoulders for a lifetime of hard work and dedication, and I’m not sure we will for a long time.