Tiger Woods on the Playoffs and Ryder Cup

This is the first week of a six-week run through the Playoffs to determine the winner of the Tour Championship, the FedExCup and the Ryder Cup:

  • The Barclays, Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, Long Island, New York
  • Deutsche Bank Championship, TPC Boston
  • BMW Championship, Crooked Stick GC, Carmel, Indiana
  • Week off
  • Tour Championship (and FedExCup), East Lake GC, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Ryder Cup, Medinah CC, Chicago, Illinois

When this series first began, the FedExCup points earned in each playoff tournament carried over to the next and the guy who had accumulated the most was the winner. That led to the finale at East Lake sometimes being anticlimactic; Tiger and Vijay each basically had it locked up by the time they got to Atlanta. So now the points reset after the first three tournaments. Here’s how the Tour explains the philosophy behind the reset:

Regular Season events are worth 500 points to the winner. Playoff events are worth 2,500 points to the winner — quintuple Regular Season points [and proportionately down through the field]. All points carry through until THE TOUR Championship, where points are reset to ensure that all 30 players have a chance to win the FedExCup, the top 10 players have a good chance and the top five players control their own destiny — a win at THE TOUR Championship will guarantee winning the FedExCup.

Here’s how Tiger described this situation in Wednesday’s media center session and how it impacts the players:

As the only multiple FedExCup champion, how would you best explain the playoff environment and playoff pressure and intensity?

Well, it’s different because in my opinion they’ve changed the format over the years.  Right now I think we’re all playing for position, which is different, going into the reset, going to the last event, the TOUR Championship.  And before it was just trying to accumulate whatever you can and keep it rolling.  Well, now you’re playing for a reset, and then again, anything can happen.

I believe that Vijay and myself basically shored up wins in the FedExCup before we even teed it up at the TOUR Championship.  So it’s a different format and a different system. Unfortunately I didn’t play it last year, so this is a little bit new to me.

Here he talks about processing his drift down to T11 in the PGA Championship, where he’s been and what he’s been doing in the interim and what the next six weeks will bring.

Where are you mentally this week, and I say that because of the weekend, the tough weekend at PGA, you kind of mentioned that you didn’t approach it Saturday kind of the same way that you had in the past.  I wondered if you had changed anything or if there’s any way you’ve thought about that leading into the Playoffs and the Ryder Cup.

No, actually I didn’t think much about it.  I was with my kids this week.  We were having a blast just having a great time.  I just got back to practicing a few days ago.  The PGA is the PGA.  It’s passed.  We’ve got five out of six weeks that are big weeks, and it’s going to be a nice little stretch there, and I’m just focused on that.

Speaking of the upcoming stretch, do you think that the format of the FedExCup, keeping more bigger fields, top‑tier players, kind of helps you guys get prepared and ready for events like the Ryder Cup instead of in the past where it was somewhat of a layoff between the end of the season and those events?

Yeah, it keeps us fresh, but I hope it doesn’t get us burned out, as well, playing that much golf.  Some of the guys before Presidents Cup when it’s overseas will play other events prior to it in other countries to get prepped.  This is going to be five, sorry, four big weeks leading up into our Ryder Cup, and it’s a lot.  It’s a lot, especially if you’re in the hunt for the FedExCup and you’re in the hunt to win each tournament.  It is kind of nice knowing that the Ryder Cup does start on a Friday, but then again, we’ve got a lot of functions there, too, coat‑and‑tie things that I don’t think any of us really like.

And while it’s true that the schedule helps keep you finely tuned, it’s also true that there are some potential downsides:

If you’re playing well, it’ll be great.  If you’re not playing well, I don’t think that’s — you just don’t have a lot of time to work on your game, and you want to be rolling into Ryder Cup with some confidence and obviously some practice and get everything situated with your teammates.

Follow‑up question on the FedExCup.  When first underway a lot of guys were taking at least one week off to rest and look forward to the final.  Do you have any plans of taking a week off, and do you think somebody could win the Cup taking a week off?

No, I’m not planning on taking any time off this year.  It was different on a different point structure in which you could take a week off somewhere in there and get a little bit of a break.  This is a tremendous amount of golf starting with the British Open on through, and they’re all big events, that’s the thing.

Starting at the British Open you have a major championship, then a World Golf Championship, followed by a major [the PGA], and then you have four big events here in the Playoffs, followed at the back end with the Ryder Cup.  I can see why some guys are taking a break.  If they played last week — they didn’t really have much of a break after the British Open.  They had a week off there, and if you play three in a row you’re going to need a break somewhere.  Wherever it is, it is, and I think some of the guys are taking a break off this week.

One of those players taking the week off is Jason Dufner. It will be interesting to see if that proves to be a good gamble for him. At #2 on the FedExCup points list, he’s gambling that the rest will give him enough subsequent points to be in that Top 5 by the Tour Championship…but he only has two tournaments to do it.

Get in the Top 5 and if you win the Tour Championship you win the FedExCup too. But if you aren’t in the Top 5, you might win the Championship, but you might not win enough points to also win the Cup.

And did I mention that the prize for winning the FedExCup is $10 million?

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