How it works: TOUR Championship

Starting Strokes and bigger FedExCup bonus are among the big changes at East Lake

Inside the PGA TOUR
New format for 2019 FedExCup Playoffs

Welcome to a brand-new era in the FedExCup.

One less week of Playoffs action made it imperative for players to perform well in the postseason. Now a debut format for the TOUR Championship will determine this year’s winner of the PGA TOUR’s Ultimate Prize.


RELATED: FedExCup standings | New format brings drama | FedExCup home


Here’s everything you need to know for this week’s TOUR Championship, the grand finale of the FedExCup season.

Starting Strokes

Gone are the confusing projections and days when two players had to share the trophy ceremony on East Lake’s 18th green.

This year, the TOUR Championship’s final leaderboard will also represent the final FedExCup standings for the top 30 players. Stroke play will be used to determine the champion of the PGA TOUR’s season-long points race. To recognize players for their regular-season performance, there will be an unprecedented staggered start to the TOUR Championship utilizing a concept called Starting Strokes.

The FedExCup leaders will begin the event with a head-start on the competition. The player who finishes the four rounds at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club with the lowest score in relation to par will win the FedExCup.

“As soon as the TOUR Championship begins, any fan – no matter if they’ve followed the PGA TOUR all season or are just tuning in for the final event – can immediately understand what’s going on and what’s at stake for every single player in the field," PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said when the changes were announced last year. "And, of course, players will know exactly where they stand at all times while in play, which will ratchet up the drama, consequence and volatility of the competition down the stretch."

Here’s how the leaderboard will look going into Thursday's first round at East Lake.

STARTING STROKES FEDEXCUP RANK/PLAYER
10 under 1. Justin Thomas
8 under 2. Patrick Cantlay
7 under 3. Brooks Koepka
6 under 4. Patrick Reed
5 under 5. Rory McIlroy
4 under 6. Jon Rahm
7. Matt Kuchar
8. Xander Schauffele
9. Webb Simpson
10. Abraham Ancer
3 under 11. Gary Woodland
12. Tony Finau
13. Adam Scott
14. Dustin Johnson
15. Hideki Matsuyama
2 under 16. Paul Casey
17. Justin Rose
18. Brandt Snedeker
19. Rickie Fowler
20. Kevin Kisner
1 under 21. Marc Leishman
22. Tommy Fleetwood
23. Corey Conners
24. Sungjae Im
25. Chez Reavie
Even par 26. Bryson DeChambeau
27. Louis Oosthuizen
28. Charles Howell III
29. Lucas Glover
30. Jason Kokrak

Bigger Payout

The entire bonus pool for this year’s FedExCup race is a record $70 million. That includes $10 million for the Wyndham Rewards Top 10, which was rewarded to the top players in the FedExCup standings at the end of the regular season. Brooks Koepka earned $2 million for taking first place in that competition.

First place in the FedExCup has increased from $10 million to $15 million. The runner-up will earn $5 million. Every player who makes it to East Lake will earn at least $395,000. Eight players will earn at least $1 million in FedExCup bonus money.

Every player who qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs will earn at least $100,000, while Nos. 126-150 in the final FedExCup standings all earn $70,000.

The FedExCup bonus money is the only money given for a player’s finish at East Lake. There is no longer a purse for the TOUR Championship. FedExCup bonus money is not considered part of a player’s official earnings for the season.

TOP 10 BONUS MONEY
1st place: $15 million 6th place: $1.9 million
2nd place: $5 million 7th place: $1.3 million
3rd place: $4 million 8th place: $1.1 million
4th place: $3 million 9th place: $950,000
5th place: $2.5 million 10th place: $830,000
Interviews
Commissioner Monahan outlines changes to FedExCup
Prior to the 2018 TOUR Championship, PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan talks about the key changes for the 2019 PGA TOUR season.

Questions and Answers

Answers to a few questions you may have.

HOW DRASTIC ARE THESE CHANGES?

The changes are, in Commissioner Monahan's words, "significant and exciting." Based solely on previous FedExCup outcomes, however, it's difficult to label them as drastic. If the Starting Strokes system had been in place since 2009 (when the previous format was first implemented), only one FedExCup winner would be different. Brooks Koepka, who entered this year's Playoffs as the FedExCup points leader, was asked about the changes. "That's fine with me," Koepka replied. "I'd love a two-shot lead."

WILL THIS BE AN OFFICIAL WIN?

The man who finishes atop the leaderboard after 72 holes at East Lake won’t just be credited with a win in the FedExCup. He’ll also be named the winner of the TOUR Championship. It will count as an official PGA TOUR victory and earn the player a spot in the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions. A win in the TOUR Championship also comes with a five-year exemption.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE’S A TIE?

In the event of a tie for first place following the TOUR Championship, the FedExCup winner will be decided in a sudden-death playoff immediately following completion of competition. The sudden-death playoff will follow the same format that would be used in the event of a tie for first place at a PGA TOUR cosponsored stroke play tournament.

In the event of a tie for positions below first place following the TOUR Championship, the FedExCup bonus distribution will be allocated using the same method currently used to distribute prize money when there is a tie. That is, the total money for each tying position will be averaged and that average will be distributed to each player in the tying position.

WHAT ABOUT STATISTICS?

Beyond the final leaderboard, most statistics will not be impacted by the Starting Strokes. For instance, Strokes Gained statistics and course records will remain based on how a player performs from his first swing in the first round to his final stroke on the 72nd hole.

WHAT IF A PLAYER CAN’T COMPETE IN THE TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP?

Any professional who is qualified for the TOUR Championship but unable to participate and/or any professional who is disqualified or withdraws for any reason will finish in last position for the TOUR Championship.

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