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Sunday, September 23, 2012


After a year of listening to crunched numbers we'll finally get a FedExCup champion. And, ironically, it may be simpler than we expected. Let's examine the prospects...

First off, I think it's safe to say that only 3 of the Top 5 still "control their own destinies." With Phil Mickelson back at +2 and Nick Watney playing on another golf course, it's unlikely that either of those 2 will win the Tour Championship outright. That leaves Rory, Tiger, and Sneds... and those 3 are in good position. Sneds leads, Rory's 3 back, and Tiger's 4 back -- all very doable.

Will one of them actually win the tournament? That remains to be seen. Bubba Watson (#11) and Jim Furyk (#18) are 3 back with Rory; Kuchar (#16), Van Pelt (#19) and Garrigus (#20) are 4 back with Tiger. Zach Johnson (#9) and Luke Donald (#15) are 5 back. Nobody else is closer than 7 back.

Scorewise, we've seen two 64s and one 65 this week, so I have trouble seeing a 63 or 62 out there... and I also have trouble believing somebody near the lead won't post a 67 or 68. In other words, I doubt anybody more than 5 back can win... and 4 back is probably stretching it.

Of course, I haven't mentioned Justin Rose (#24) or Ryan Moore (#28), who are tied for the lead and 2 back, respectively. They can certainly win the tournament, I just don't believe they can win the FedExCup... and you don't need to be a math wizard to see why.

Here's a quick, no-strain lesson on how the points work. The points at the start of the week for the Top 10 looked like this:
  1. McIlroy 2500
  2. Woods 2250
  3. Watney 2000
  4. Mickelson 1800
  5. Snedeker 1600
  6. Oosthuizen 1400
  7. D. Johnson 1200
  8. Westwood 1000
  9. Z. Johnson 800
  10. Dufner 600
The points drop off from there. For our purposes, I'll just mention that Justin Rose has 270 points and Ryan Moore has 230.

The points awarded to the Tour Championship's Top 10 look like this:
  1. 2500
  2. 1500
  3. 1000
  4. 750
  5. 550
  6. 500
  7. 450
  8. 425
  9. 400
  10. 375
Here's an example of how the Top 5 control their destinies. We'll let Sneds win and Rory come in second. Sneds gets 4100 points (1600 + 2500) and Rory gets 4000 points (2500 +1500), so Rory comes in 100 points behind Sneds and loses the Cup to him.

You don't need a degree in algebra to read the writing on this wall, do you? Even if you win the tournament, winning the Cup is incredibly hard if you started the week outside the Top 8. That's Westwood (who's dead last this week, unfortunately); with a win he would have 3500 points (1000 + 2500). As long as none of the players ahead of him finish second or third, the Cup is his. I realize that's dreadfully oversimplified -- I'm basically looking at the highest Rory can finish and still have fewer points than the tournament winner -- but that's the easiest way to understand it.

The highest-ranked players outside the Top 5 with a decent chance to win are Bubba (3 back) and Zach (5 back). Wins would give Bubba 2980 points (480 + 2500) or Zach 3300 points (800 + 2500). How low do we think Rory and Tiger are going to finish? That's the real question... and I have trouble believing both of them will finish outside the Top 4.

So, barring flame-outs by Tiger, Rory, AND Sneds, one of those 3 will probably be the FedExCup winner. Right now, my money's on Sneds to win it all. I think he's playing well enough to hold on to the lead.

At any rate, at least today we'll finally get an answer.

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