Make the Tour Playoffs like March Madness

Phil Mickelson during the final round of the 2009 Tour Championship.

Phil Mickelson during the final round of the 2009 Tour Championship.

The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs begin this week. I bet that the overwhelming majority of the fans can’t explain how they work. Many of us simply watch the coverage and look at the number in the box on the screen that represents where that player stands in the points race, but beyond that have no idea what is going on.

Is this something that is worthy of being called playoffs?

The sporting public understands playoffs: win and advance; lose and done. Simple as that.

The remaining events leading up to the Tour Championship truly are nothing more than tournaments - with shrinking fields as we move along based on a criteria or distribution of points. Sure, the Tour has made efforts to ensure these last four events are something that can make common sense to us fans, but what we really need are PLAYOFFS!

I would start by doing away with FedEx Cup points. Use what has always been the measuring stick for golf on the PGA Tour: the money list. This is something everyone identifies with.

Second, the season-ending playoff format should be match play.

The field for the opening week would consist of 128 players - the top 128 on the money list to that point in the season. A giant 128-player bracket would be easy for all to follow and understand.

During the first week of playoffs, we would see four different locations (i.e. Seattle, Dallas, Minneapolis, Boston) with 32 players at each site. All matches would be 36 holes. The event would start on Friday with opening round matches. Saturday would be the second round, followed by Sunday’s round to arrive at a top 4 from each of the four locations.

Those four finishers at each site would then advance to the final 16 the next week at one site. Again, all of these matches would be 36-hole contests and get underway on Saturday. The final eight players would play on Sunday to get to a “Final Fore!” Those four players would tee it up the next weekend at a new site to determine the playoff champion.

One less week, a lot more excitement and a much easier format for everyone to understand. Plus, the brackets would make the tournament more popular. I think we have seen that work before in another sport.

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