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FedEx Cup Finale: The End of the 2020/21 Season and a Look Ahead

US Open at Winged Foot

Dustin Johnson’s pockets got a little bit heavier this week. It ended up closer than he may have liked, but DJ is the winner of the 2020 Tour Championship. With that, he also wins the FedEx Cup, which comes with a $15 million payout. It was no surprise, as he was the FedEx Cup point leader going into the tournament, which gave him a huge advantage. He started the event at -10, two strokes ahead of his nearest competitor. (A more complete explanation of the scoring can be found here.)

Despite the 2019/20 season’s end, there’s no respite for the world’s best golfers. The U.S. Open starts September 17, the first of six majors in the 2020/21 season. The Masters is in November and then, hopefully, we get back to our regularly scheduled programs (except for the Ryder Cup, which is now odd years instead of even). So here is a look back at the FedEx Cup finale and a look forward to the start of what will be another wild PGA Tour season.

Dustin’s FedEx Cup Dominance

Even though most people’s 2020 has been less than ideal, Dustin Johnson seems to be doing pretty well. After the PGA Tour season restarted, he’s won three, finished top-10 in five and made more money than any sane person would know what to do with. An early post-restart win at the Travelers Championship was followed by a missed cut and withdrawal at the Memorial and 3M Open, respectively, but then he went on a run for the ages. A T12 finish at the WGC – FedEx St. Jude was the last tournament he finished outside of the top two.

A T2 finish at the PGA Championship was followed up with a win in the first leg of the FedEx Cup Playoff. A solo second at the BMW Championship kept him at the top of the FedEx Cup standings, giving him a huge advantage in the Tour Championship. He, of course, won that by three strokes, securing the $15 million prize that comes with it. The number one player in the world will likely take the next week off and look to win his second major at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

FedEx Cup Finale

Despite DJ’s wire-to-wire win, there was still plenty of drama at East Lake. A missed putt on the 72nd hole from Xander Schauffele cost him half a million. As it’s the culmination of the whole season and only thirty golfers are invited, the payouts are ridiculous. Solo second place wins $5 million, third $4 million and the top eight (if there aren’t ties) make seven figures. Thanks to the missed putt, Schauffele and Justin Thomas made $4.5 million each in second place. Just for making it there, Billy Horschel gets $450,000, despite finishing +4 for the week.

FedEx Cup
The best gross score of the week wasn’t enough for Xander Schauffele to win the Tour Championship (via Getty)

In terms of gross score, Schauffele was actually the winner of the event. He finished -15 for the week, despite an opening-round +1 71. Scottie Scheffler was second, with a -12 268. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas would have tied for third in a gross tournament, with -11 269s. Before 2019, Schauffele would have won the tournament, with Dustin Johnson separately taking the FedEx Cup. Despite the somewhat confusing opening round scores, it’s nice having only one winner at the end of the week.

Looking Ahead

Despite the U.S. Open less than two weeks away, there is a tournament this week: the Safeway Open in Napa, CA. It’s very unlikely many, if any, top golfers go, though. With the Tour Championship in Georgia and the U.S. Open in New York, most will want to avoid two cross-country flights in a week. The fact that Winged Foot’s previous Opens have featured some mind-bogglingly high scores means that top golfers will likely prefer extra practice rounds there rather than competitive rounds at the Safeway Open.

Speaking of high scores, the winning score in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot was +5. Geoff Ogilvy won it, with three tying for second. Phil Mickelson was the most prominent, as this seemed to be his best chance to finish the career grand slam. Instead, it was a monumental collapse, featuring a 72nd hole double bogey to lose the tournament. He will be looking to build off his Champions Tour success and finally get that elusive U.S. Open title.

FedEx Cup
Phil’s last trip to Winged Foot ended in heartbreak. Can he get his first U.S. Open win this year? (via independent.ie)

Tiger Watch

Whenever anybody loses a playoff game or series in another sport, the joke is that they’re now golfing instead. So the question is, what happens when a golfer gets eliminated from the FedEx Cup Playoff? Do they do the opposite and play basketball or hockey? Maybe for Tiger it’s just Call of Duty and caddying for his son. Realistically, he’s probably preparing for Winged Foot, but who knows what he’d be doing if the PGA Tour schedule hadn’t been completely messed up. Is the extra time off just what he needs to get major number sixteen? Or has it just helped him get a few more wins in Warzone?

 

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