December 5, 2021

Altunhatours

The Devoted Travel Technicians

2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs: Standings, schedule, format and everything to know as postseason golf begins

4 min read

After 47 events (including six major championships), the longest regular season in PGA Tour history has ended and the three-week postseason is here. The FedEx Cup Playoffs start this week with The Northern Trust, followed by the BMW Championship and big-money Tour Championship at East Lake, which wraps up the entire 50-event season.

Here’s a breakdown (and reminder!) of how the FedEx Cup Playoffs work, what to expect and how everything will play out over the next several weeks as the best in the world make one final push toward the finale.

Events

Aug. 19-22 — The Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club (Jersey City, New Jersey)
Aug. 26-29 — BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club (Owings Mills, Maryland)
Sept. 2-5 — Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club (Atlanta, Georgia)

Fields

The Northern Trust: 125
BMW Championship: 70
Tour Championship: 30

The top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, via points accumulated throughout the year, will play The Northern Trust this week. Some of them by the narrowest of margins. 

Though all three events are 72-hole stroke-play tournaments, the fields gradually get smaller as we zero in on a $15 million winner at the Tour Championship. The metrics change during the playoffs, too, as everything is quadrupled. In the last regular season event, Kevin Kisner got 500 FedEx Cup points for winning the Wyndham Championship. The winner of the first two FedEx Cup Playoffs events will receive 2,000. That goes for every slot on the leaderboard (300 for second becomes 1,200 and so on). Only five golfers surpassed the 2,000-point total during the entire regular season, which means the FedEx Cup standings can shift quite a bit over the next few weeks. Winners are disproportionately rewarded.

For example, if Sergio Garcia, currently ranked 40th in the FedEx Cup standings, wins The Northern Trust, he would shoot to the top of the board with 3,020 FedEx Cup points (his current 1,020 plus 2,000 for winning). Only one of the top eight players in the current standings could stay ahead of him by finishing second and receiving 1,200 points. Nobody could stay ahead of him solely from a third-place finish. 

The first two winners will sit pretty at the Tour Championship. In the first year of this format, Patrick Reed won The Northern Trust and started the Tour Championship in fourth. Justin Thomas won the second playoff event and started the Tour Championship in first. Last year, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm won the first two events and started first and second at the Tour Championship. There is a lot of movement to be had over the next to weeks before the grand finale.

The top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings after The Northern Trust move on to the BMW Championship. Then the top 30 after that move on to the Tour Championship.

Tour Championship format

Going into the Tour Championship inside the top five or top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings is important because of how scoring is dispersed. Whoever is first in the standings after the BMW Championship starts the Tour Championship at 10 under, and the event is played under normal scoring conditions from there. Second starts at 8 under and so on (see full numbers below). With so much money at stake, those margins become more meaningful than even a normal week. The eventual winners of the last two have started first and fifth.

  • 1st: Starts Tour Championship at -10
  • 2nd: -8
  • 3rd: -7
  • 4th: -6
  • 5th: -5
  • 6th-10th: -4
  • 11th-15th: -3
  • 16th-20th: -2
  • 21st-25th: -1
  • 26th-30th: E

Prize money

The numbers are startling. The winner of the Tour Championship gets $15 million. If you make it to the Tour Championship, you’re guaranteed $395,000. Everyone who makes it to the BMW Championship is guaranteed at least $140,000. Heck, everyone who finished in the top 125 is guaranteed at least $101,000. And all of this is on top of what the tournaments themselves pay out. Add it all up, and FedEx is giving out $60 million in bonus funds to the best players in the world.

  • 1st: $15 million
  • 2nd: $5 million
  • 3rd: $4 million
  • 4th: $3 million
  • 5th: $2.5 million
  • 6th: $1.9 million
  • 7th: $1.3 million
  • 8th: $1.1 million
  • 9th: $950K
  • 10th $830K

Favorites

The current top 10 going into The Northern Trust is a collection of the best, most consistent players all year. Any of the 10 could theoretically win it, although since the FedEx Cup Playoffs went from four events to three events two years ago, the eventual winners have been ranked No. 15 (Dustin Johnson) and No. 6 (Rory McIlroy) in the FedEx Cup standings before the playoffs started.

1

Collin Morikawa

2,171

2

Jordan Spieth

2,139

3

Patrick Cantlay

2,056

4

Harris English

2,039

5

Jon Rahm

2,003

6

Abraham Ancer

1,926

7

Bryson DeChambeau

1,910

8

Louis Oosthuizen

1,877

9

Justin Thomas

1,758

10

Sam Burns

1,721

I love both Morikawa and Spieth in this spot, both because they have played well this year (and recently) and because they have a nice head start on most of the other 123 golfers. There are also some names outside the top 10 like Xander Schauffele (13th), Hideki Matsuyama (14th), Brooks Koepka (15th), Dustin Johnson (17th) and Rory McIlroy (26th) that should be threats over the next several weeks.