Oct 03, 2018: This week, the PGA TOUR begins kicks off its 2018-19 PGA TOUR Season at the Safeway Open, the first event in a wraparound schedule that bridges two years with 46 events — 43 Regular Season events and three FedExCup Playoffs events. The fall includes eight FedExCup events beginning with the Safeway Open and ending with the RSM Classic in November, followed by a break before resuming in January with the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Every week is significant – four of the eight winners from the fall calendar of 2017 (Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Patrick Cantlay, Patton Kizzire) qualified for the season-ending TOUR Championship. The other four winners (Brendan Steele, Pat Perez, Ryan Armour, Austin Cook) advanced through the first three Playoffs events.
Significant changes for PGA TOUR in 2018-19
The PGA TOUR has introduced
- A season with a better flow from start to finish; a return of THE PLAYERS Championship to March, which kicks off a cadence of significant events over five months; and a season that concludes with the FedExCup Playoffs. The FedExCup Playoffs – which have been reduced from four to three events beginning this season and will conclude before Labor Day, allowing the TOUR to compete to own the August sports calendar – will feature fields of 125 for THE NORTHERN TRUST, 70 for the BMW Championship and 30 for the TOUR Championship, where the FedExCup Champion will be determined.
- A simplified, strokes-based scoring system at the TOUR Championship that crowns a singular champion. Instead of a points reset at the TOUR Championship, the TOUR is instituting a strokes-based system related to the FedExCup standings through the BMW Championship. The scoring system virtually replicates the win probabilities of the current system but uses strokes instead of points – which is much easier for golf fans, and the casual sports fan, to understand. The leader through the first two FedExCup Playoffs events will begin the TOUR Championship at 10-under par. The next four players will start at -8 through -5, respectively. The next five will begin at -4, regressing by one stroke per five players until players 26-30 start at even par. With the implementation of this change, the player with the lowest total score including FedExCup Starting Strokes will be the FedExCup champion and be credited with an official victory in the TOUR Championship.
- A $10 million Wyndham Rewards-sponsored bonus – the Wyndham Rewards Top 10 — where players will be rewarded for their outstanding play during the Regular Season, prior to the start of the FedExCup Playoffs. The top 10 Regular Season finishers in FedExCup points through the Wyndham Championship will earn $2 million, followed by $1.5 million for the runner-up with the 10th-place finisher earning $500,000. Dustin Johnson led last year’s FedExCup standings through the Wyndham Championship, just 83 points ahead of Justin Thomas.
- Including the Wyndham Rewards top 10, there will be a doubling of FedExCup total bonus money available to players, from $35 million to $70 million.
A broader look at the field
- Two players that qualified for the 2018 TOUR Championship (FedExCup rank): Patrick Cantlay (20) and Phil Mickelson (21).
- FedExCup champions: Bill Haas (2011), Brandt Snedeker (2012).
- Four of the last five Safeway Open champions; Sangmoon Bae (2014), Emiliano Grillo (2015), Brendan Steele (2016, 2017).
- Sponsor exemption Tyler McCumber, son of former PLAYERS Championship winner Mark McCumber, won three times on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada in 2018. McCumber is a former University of Florida All-American.
Nine 2017-18 PGA TOUR Season winners: Brendan Steele/Safeway Open, Patrick Cantlay/Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, Ted Potter, Jr./AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Phil Mickelson/WGC-Mexico Championship, Andrew Landry/Valero Texas Open, Scott Piercy (with Billy Horschel)/Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Michael Kim/John Deere Classic, Troy Merritt/Barbasol Championship, Brandt Snedeker/Wyndham Championship.