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Jay Busbee

Who can take home the $10 million FedEx Cup prize?

Jay Busbee
Devil Ball Golf

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We're within days of the start of the Tour Championship, and that means it's time to start speculating on who can take home the $10 million prize. Win the tournament, you win the big money, right? Well ... not exactly.

As with so much else in golf, tracking the progress of the FedEx Cup requires you to pay attention to at least three separate charts and compare the performance of multiple players across them all. Basically, this is something that's going to be damn near impossible to sort out until the back nine next Sunday. But let's give it a shot.

First off, click here to take a look at the reset points for the Tour Championship. The first-place player, Matt Kuchar, goes into the tournament with 2,500 points; the 30th-place player, Bo Van Pelt, has a mere 210. Got that? Good.

OK, now take a look at this chart for the playoff points distribution for finishing. The first-place finisher gets 2,500 points; the 30th-place finisher gets 205. Which, if you do some math, means that it is possible -- highly unlikely, but possible -- for Van Pelt to win the FedEx Cup if Kuchar finishes 30th.

Got that? Now, look at this chart, which gives you the current positions from 1-30. That gives you an idea of how far each guy has to go in order to get that big ol' check.

So let's break this down a little further. Positions 1-5 -- Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Charley Hoffman, Steve Stricker and Paul Casey -- control their own destiny. If they win the tournament, the Cup is theirs. Nobody can pass them. Beyond that, it gets a little tricky.

Let's say Phil Mickelson, ranked at No. 10, wins the tournament. He did last year, remember. The first four seeds could conceivably pass him with strong but non-winning performances, and the fifth seed could tie him, setting up a winner-take-all playoff.

Or let's say that Kevin Na, now ranked 20th, wins the tournament. The top-five seeds could pass Na, and the sixth could tie him. That's a high mountain to climb ... or, put another way, a lot of guys who need to falter.

So, realistically, the winner's probably going to come from the top 10, and from the upper reaches of that group. But you're going to need a calculator, an abacus, a slide rule and one of those math-whiz savants to keep you up-to-date. Just trust us, we'll steer you right.

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