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How Do the FedEx Cup Playoffs Work, Again?

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COMMENTARY | While the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup was originally announced in 2005 and first awarded in 2007, there are still a number of golf fans who get flat-out confused when trying to decipher how the season-long point race will play out upon its conclusion.

Of course, the PGA Tour didn't do us any favors by changing the rules to the FedEx Cup in each of the first two years following 2007. But, I digress.

This week's tournament -- The Barclays -- marks "round one" of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That's probably the easiest thing to remember regarding the entire playoff format.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

As you probably already know, FedEx Cup points are awarded to players throughout the season based on their performance in specific tournaments. A majority of the "regular season" events -- which begin in January -- have points riding on the line, culminating in the final event of the season at last week's Wyndham Championship. As of right now, Tiger Woods has the most points of any other golfer.

With me so far? Good.

At the end of the regular season, the top 125 players in the point standings earn a spot in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and are invited to play The Barclays. The points these players accumulated throughout the year carry over through the first three rounds of the playoffs, so players can add to their total and improve their ranking. Points awarded during the playoff events are higher than what is awarded during regular season tournaments (e.g., this week's winner will receive 2,500 points compared to the typical 500-600 points for a regular season win).

After the first round, the FedEx Cup rankings are reshuffled and the top 100 players are invited to the second round of the playoffs -- the Deutsche Bank Championship. Those other 25 players who started the playoffs? They're done for the year.

Round three of the playoffs -- played at the BMW Championship -- features the top 70 players following the Deutsche Bank. After the BMW, only the top 30 players eventually make it to the Tour Championship in September.

This is where things get a little weird.

All the players previously accumulated points are completely wiped out before the start of the Tour Championship. Whoever is in first place following the BMW will be given 2,500 points, second place will get 1,500, so on and so on. This process is done to give any player in the 30-man field a chance at winning the FedEx Cup title and $10 million.

What is interesting about this format is that you don't have to win the Tour Championship in order to win the FedEx Cup title. That's why we saw Tiger Woods win the FedEx title despite Phil Mickelson winning the Tour Championship in 2009.

Got it? Good. Now let's watch some golf.

Adam Fonseca has covered professional golf since 2005. His work can also be found on the Back9Network. Follow Adam on Twitter at @chicagoduffer. He really enjoys people sending him messages. Really.

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