NORTON, Mass. — The PGA Tour season has felt disjointed thanks to a prolonged break due to the coronavirus pandemic, but after Jim Herman won the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, the 2019-20 regular season concluded.
Last year, Patrick Reed won the first event in the re-formatted FedEx Cup playoffs, the Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. This year, the event has picked up stakes and moved north on I-95, and now TPC Boston is hosting the first round of the 2020 postseason.
The playoffs will look and sound different this year because there will be no fans lining the fairways at the tournaments, but there are millions of dollars on the line every week.
Here is everything you need to know about the playoffs and how the next three weeks will work.
Who’s in, who’s out?
Since last September at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, PGA Tour players have been earning FedEx Cup points based on their performances. Ten events in the spring and summer were canceled, including the British Open, but 12 events were completed after the Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational.
The top 125 players on the FedEx Cup point list are eligible for this week’s Northern Trust. Golfers who finished above No. 125 on the list are done for the season. If someone withdraws before the tournament starts, there will not be an alternate added to the field.
Among the notable players who failed to qualify for this season’s playoffs are former Masters champions Charl Schwartzel (No. 128), Sergio Garcia (135) and Danny Willett (146), 2009 British Open champion Stewart Cink (144) and 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner (164).
Round 1 – The Northern Trust
The Northern Trust has a 125-player field and is the only FedEx Cup playoff event with a 36-hole cut. The low-65 players and ties will play the final 36 holes and earn more FedEx Cup points. Only golfers who finish ranked No. 70 or better on the FedEx Cup point list after the Northern Trust’s conclusion will advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Patrick Reed hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the final round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Course. Photo by Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports
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Patrick Reed hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the final round of the 2019 Northern Trust at Liberty National Golf Course. Photo by Mark Konezny/USA TODAY Sports
Making cut will be especially crucial at the Northern Trust because any golfer who starts the week ranked No. 71 or worse on the FedEx Cup point list and who misses the cut will fail to advance in the playoffs.
Numerous big names need solid performances this week if they want to crack the top 70 and continue their seasons, including Ian Poulter (85), Rickie Fowler (88), Tommy Fleetwood (89), Brooks Koepka (97), Brandt Snedeker (98) and Jordan Spieth (100). 2018 FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose starts this season’s playoffs ranked No. 109.
Round 2 – BMW Championship
The BMW Championship will be contested on the North Course at Olympia Fields Golf Club outside Chicago Aug. 27-30. Only players who rank No. 70 or better on the points list can play.
There is no cut at the BMW Championship, so every player in the field will play all four rounds and earn FedEx Cup points. However, only players ranked No. 30 or better on the list will qualify for the following week’s Tour Championship.
Many things can change between now and the end of the BMW Championship, but golfers who are just outside the top 30 include 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (33), Jason Day (45) and Tiger Woods (49).
Round 3 – The Tour Championship
The PGA Tour’s season-ending event will once again take place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Thirty players will qualify for the event, and there will be no cut, but the Tour Championship will have a unique start.
After the conclusion of the BMW Championship, the golfer ranked No. 1 on the FedEx Cup point list will start the Tour Championship with a score of -10, a reward for accumulating the most points throughout the season.
Based on where the other players rank on the point list, they will start between two and 10 shots behind the leader:
Rory McIlroy signs pin flags after winning the 2019 Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club on Aug. 25, 2019 in Atlanta. Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images
Once players are assigned their starting scores and play begins at the Tour Championship, FedEx Cup points become meaningless.
Whoever wins the Tour Championship will also win the FedEx Cup and the $15 million prize.
Last season, Justin Thomas entered the Tour Championship ranked No. 1 and started at -10. Still, Rory McIlroy, who started the week fifth on the point list, wound up winning the tournament and the FedEx Cup even though he began the week five shots behind Thomas.
List of FedEx Cup champions