PGA Tour announces playoff to end season in 2007

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Details of the FedEx Cup competition will be completed next year.

ATLANTA -- The PGA Tour might look like NASCAR in two years, with a season-long points race culminating with four blockbuster tournaments and a massive payoff to the winner.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem disclosed the radical changes Wednesday during his State of the Tour, although he said most of the details would not be completed until next year.

Starting in 2007, the new schedule will be built around the FedEx Cup.

The premise is for players to earn points from January through August, and those points then staggered to set the stage for a big finish. Finchem said there would be three tournaments leading to the conclusion at the Tour Championship, which will be played in September.

"We go so far into the football season, and so far into the fall, that we haven't been able to get the kind of strength we see in other sports," Finchem said. "We're the only major sport that doesn't have a playoff system."

He believes the FedEx Cup will fill that gap.

It is similar to the Chase for the Championship that NASCAR began last year, in which the top 10 drivers of the season compete in the final 10 races for the title.

Finchem did not say how many players would be eligible to win the FedEx Cup, and he said it was possible someone could win the prize without capturing the season-ending Tour Championship or any of the four majors.

"The playoffs are all about starting over," he said.

Tour officials have been tweaking the concept and still are unsure how the points system will work.

Multiple sources involved in the discussion, all speaking on condition of anonymity because the changes were announced, have said the three tournaments after the PGA Championship and leading to the Tour Championship would be the Barclays Classic in New York, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston and the Western Open. The Western Open is still dealing with sponsorship issues and a decision on where to play.

Golf World magazine reported last week that the Western Open might be rotated among such markets as Minnesota, Indianapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.

Finchem mentioned that Bellerive Country Club outside St. Louis was supposed to host the American Express Championship in 2001, an event canceled because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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