FedExCup: Ten things to look forward to

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Tiger Woods has won two FedExCups and Rory McIlroy will look for No. 1 this year.
January 03, 2013
Chris Dunham,

The 2013 calendar year will mark the seventh season of the FedExCup competition on the PGA TOUR. All five previous winners (Tiger Woods claimed the trophy in both 2007 and ’09) will compete on TOUR this year and chase the coveted trophy and its $10 million prize.

Here are 10 things to look forward to in 2013:

1. Tiger vs. Rory
The golf world has been trending in this direction and now the stage is finally set for a showdown between arguably the most dominant golfer of all-time and the reigning PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Woods, who finished third in the FedExCup race, won three times a year ago while McIlroy won four events, including two in the Playoffs, en route to a FedExCup runner-up finish.

2. Snedeker vs. history
An interesting trend has popped up in the first six seasons of the FedExCup competition: No FedExCup champion has returned to East Lake for a chance to defend his FedExCup title. Woods, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Bill Haas have tried but come up short. Snedeker, who’d had a history of coming up just short in the Playoffs prior to last season, gets his shot this year to become the first defender of a FedExCup title at East Lake.

3. Will someone finish?
Another interesting trend under the current FedExCup format is where champions make their runs from. The three FedExCup winners in the current system -- Jim Furyk, Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker -- each entered the Playoffs at No. 15 or worse in the standings. The current scoring system and reset make for a level playing field in the Playoffs and unpredictable results, but Cinderella can't win every year. Will this be the year someone carries momentum from an excellent season into the Playoffs and win the FedExCup?

4. TOUR cards on the line
This season, FedExCup points replace the money list in determining the 125 players who secure full status on TOUR the following season. Long story short: Qualify for the Playoffs and you’ve got a job in the 2013-14 season. Look for fields at late-season events like the RBC Canadian Open, Reno-Tahoe Open and Wyndham Championship to be impacted by this change.

5. Veterans race the clock
Multiple winners and 40-somethings like Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Steve Stricker and David Toms have accomplished just about everything there is to achieve on the PGA TOUR -- except win the FedExCup. Now they aren’t only racing against the group of emerging young stars on TOUR, but also against time. Will this be the year a third player (Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk) over 40 wins the FedExCup?

6. Format rewarding play at the right time
Any player with TOUR status during the season is eligible to win the FedExCup. Anyone who makes the Playoffs has a legitimate chance and any player who tees it up at East Lake has a mathematical chance at winning the FedExCup. Having a good season is important. A strong Playoffs is more important. After accomplishing those two, a strong finish is the most important. That’s just how it should be.

7. Surprises in the Playoffs
Last season, Nick Watney earned his first top-5 finish of the season with his surprise victory at The Barclays. Others in recent years, like Chez Reavie, Charley Hoffman and Heath Slocum have made significant strides in the Playoffs after less-than-stellar seasons leading up to the final four events. Every year has its Cinderella stories. This year won’t be any different.

8. Money list bubbles come during the Playoffs
While FedExCup points determine the top 125 players on TOUR, the money list will still factor into the selection of fields for majors and invitationals in 2014. With the TOUR Championship (not the fall series) now acting as the season finale, all money races will be settled during the Playoffs. It will be an interesting subplot to follow as competitors also chase the FedExCup.

9. More points available
Events scheduled opposite majors or World Golf Championships get a boost this season. Instead of awarding 250 points to the champions, they will now offer 300 points to winners.

10. Follow the leader
Starting with the first full-field event of the season, next week's Sony Open in Hawaii, the FedExCup points leader -- provided he's in the field -- will be easily identifiable whenever he's on the course each week. That's because his caddie will be wearing a special FedExCup points leader bib with orange pockets and an orange stripe on the shoulders at all PGA TOUR-sponsored events.