Thursday, September 24
Math Plays Through in FedEx Cup
Help! Math will determine the FedEx Cup winner.
GOLF IS A SIMPLE GAME. The player with the fewest strokes wins. Hand him or her a shiny trophy and one of those oversized checks, snap some photos and everything’s good.
Unless it’s the FedEx Cup.
Then it’s a points race, sort of like NASCAR, I guess. And, from what I’ve been able to gather, a points race can’t be a simple game. It’s more like a math game, which is way over my head.
As we’ve learned, this is problematic. Two years ago Tiger Woods won. That seemed OK with everybody. Last year Vijay Singh won the FedEx Cup before the last event, the Tour Championship. That was all wrong, so the PGA Tour and mathematicians went back to the FedEx Cup chalkboard.
We won’t know until Sunday who will win the Cup this year, but I wonder if folks will question the legitimacy of the result because they don’t have a clue about the math. (Unless Tigers wins, of course.)
Maybe this weekend we’ll need a PGA Tour equivalent of Tim Russert, who explained the Electoral College with a mini whiteboard and markers during election night earlier this decade.
I’m not trying to be a rain cloud. I’m in the FedEx Cup camp. It does create some additional interest in pro golf. I’m all for that. It’s just unfortunate that it has a Jekyll and Hyde quality. As Globe and Mail columnist Lorne Rubenstein recently wrote, “The FedEx Cup is in its third year and the world’s best players are playing each of its four tournaments. That’s good.”
But there’s also Mr. Hyde, according to Rubenstein.
“The FedEx Cup is in its third year and hardly anybody, including the world’s best players, understands the points system, notwithstanding the tweaking that’s occurred since its inception. That’s bad.”
I don’t know if that can ever be fixed. I do know this: If golf is more complex than the fewest strokes wins, we’re probably all in trouble.
−The Armchair Golfer