SAINT SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – In reviewing this new version of the FedEx Cup Fall, the PGA Tour has to be thrilled with some of its winners: Sahith Theegala’s debut win in Napa; Tom Kim’s repeat in Las Vegas; Collin Morikawa’s winless drought ends in Japan, the country of his ancestors; Erik van Rooyen’s back-nine 28 and emotional win in Cabo; Camilo Villegas’s feel-good story in Bermuda; and capped off by Ludvig Aberg’s 61-61 weekend here at the RSM Classic. The Sunday drama didn’t disappoint.
Underneath the surface, not everyone was so happy, particularly Jimmy Walker. who vented about how he had to keep battling for three additional months to keep his card. (He slipped out of the top 125 and will have conditional status playing out of the Nos. 126-150 category next season.)
Instead of the start to a new wrap-around season, the top 50 locked up their cards at the end of the regular season and no longer had to worry about falling behind in the full slate of tournaments. Rather, those without exempt status had to play on during a seven-event points chase to retain status for the 2024 season, which begins in January. (The Fall also lost two events — CJ Cup and Houston Open — both of which joined the FedEx Cup regular season, with CJ taking over title sponsorship of the Byron Nelson in Dallas and the Houston Open being promoted to a date in the spring.)
The top players finally got the off-season they’d been begging for and the rank-and-file still got several playing opportunities with purses of at least $8 million, full FedEx Cup points on the line and a chance to qualify for two early-season Signature Events for those who finishing in ‘The Next 10’ in the final point standings. As Peter Malnati put it, the FedEx Cup Fall was “fun and exciting, unless you’re one of the ones trying to keep your job and then it’s a strain.”
In theory, there was something for players of all skill levels to play for – even the top 50 could earn additional years to their exempt status and qualify for tournaments such as the Masters and the Sentry with a win if not already in those fields – but was it a win-win for fans and sponsors too? Only a used car salesman could make that sell, and it begs the question: will the Tour continue to…