By JIM O'SHEA
College Contributor Network
The first thing you probably think of is Jim Mora's press conference in 2001, after his Colts lost to the 49ers. "Playoffs?!"
Or maybe the new College Football Playoff comes to mind.
Or you think of exactly what the playoffs are: the post-season part of the schedule that sees the best teams and players battle it out to find out who is truly the best of the best.
Whatever you think of, the word "fixed" probably is not one of them.
But with the PGA Tour and its $10 million season-ending prize on the line, "fixed" is exactly what happens.
The TOUR Championship is the last event of the PGA Tour season and ends the four-week FedEx Cup Playoffs. Before the tournament begins, the FedEx Cup points are fixed. No matter how many points the leader has at the time, his total is reset to 2500 and anyone inside the top-five automatically wins the FedEx Cup with a win in Atlanta.
It gives everyone a chance. And I literally mean everyone. The points are so fixed that anyone in field's top-30 has a mathematical chance to take home the Cup at the end of the week.
But if a player, like Rory McIlroy two years ago, dominates during the Playoffs and wins a major during the year, he should be the FedEx Cup champion. McIlroy won the PGA Championship, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship -- the second and third legs of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. But he did not take home the FedEx Cup.
And it gets tricky regarding how much stock the PGA Tour puts in the Playoffs. Tournaments during the regular season are worth 500 points and majors are worth 600 points. The events during the Playoffs are worth...wait for it. 2500 points!
With the tournaments being worth so much, new faces are taking over the number-one spot literally every week and some don't really deserve it.
Take this year for example.
Right now, the Tour is in the third week of the Playoffs. It has had three different players as number one in the FedEx Cup going into each of the tournaments: Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan, and Chris Kirk.
McIlroy won his last three tournaments, including two majors, heading into the Barclays, so it made sense for him to be in the top spot.
But as for the other two.
Hunter Mahan has as many missed cuts, five, as he's earned top-10 finishes this season -- talk about hot and cold. Yet, he was number one in the season-long points standings after his win at the Barclays in week one of the Playoffs.
Chris Kirk became the top man after entering TPC Boston with only one win on the season and only two more top-10s. That win came during the fall part of the season, which most of the top players take off, and Kirk came into the Deutsche Bank with a missed cut and a T-53 in his last two tournaments.
The PGA Tour has the FedEx Cup to determine who the best player is that year, that part is unquestionable. But then why is the PGA Tour Player of the Year usually not the FedEx Cup champion?
The 2010 season was the last in which both awards were given to the same person. In 2011, Bill Haas won the FedEx Cup and Luke Donald earned PGA Tour Player of the Year, while in 2012 it was Brandt Snedeker and Rory McIlroy, respectively. Last year, Henrik Stenson won the former and Tiger Woods the latter. And, if this year ended today, it would undoubtedly be the fourth straight year in which both awards did not match up.
Everyone loves a playoff system in sports, as it lets fans see the best duke it out to see who truly is the best. But, more times than not, the winner is not just the best at the time, but also during the entire year. The champions of the NFL, NBA, and MLB in the past year all had the best records during the regular season as well -- the Seahawks, Spurs, and Red Sox were all number-one seeds come playoff time.
If the three major pro sports leagues in North America all batted 1.000 for their champions, then why has the PGA Tour struck out the last three years? I know in golf the lowest score wins, but this is one category in which you do not want to go low.
Jim O'Shea is a junior at Syracuse University studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born and raised in Houston, TX. He's an avid Texans and Texas Rangers fan. Also golf is his favorite sport. Follow him on Twitter: @JimOShea4
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