Jon Rahm Rips the PGA Tour Over the FedEx Cup Playoffs Format

We publish independently audited information that meets our strong editorial guidelines. Be aware we may earn a commission if you purchase anything via links on our pages.
Jon Rahm during the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open

Of all the golfers on the PGA Tour, few wear their emotions on their sleeve more than Jon Rahm. Good or bad, Rahm has never had a problem expressing himself, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that he didn’t hold back when asked his thoughts on the format of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Rahm, who may be sitting atop the FedEx Cup standings heading into the BMW Championship later this week, says he understands why the PGA Tour has the current system in place but clearly isn’t a fan.

How do the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs work?

Before we get to Rahm’s comments, here’s a quick reminder on how the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs actually work.

At the end of the regular season, the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the first playoff event, The Northern Trust, which was played this year at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey. From there, the top 70 in the standings advance to the BMW Championship, which is being played at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland. At the conclusion of the BMW, the top 30 in the standings advance to the Tour Championship, which has been held at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, since 2004.

In past years, the winner of the Tour Championship wasn’t always the same person who captured the FedEx Cup title, which the PGA Tour apparently didn’t like. So, beginning in 2019, they introduced the staggered-stroke format, which is designed to give those in higher positions in the standings a bit of an advantage. The No. 1 player starts the Tour Championship already at 10-under, and the scores trickle down from there as follows:

  • No. 1: 10-under
  • No. 2: 8-under
  • No. 3: 7-under
  • No. 4: 6-under
  • No. 5: 5-under
  • Nos. 6-10: 4-under
  • Nos. 11-15: 3-under
  • Nos. 16-20: 2-under
  • Nos. 21-25: 1-under
  • Nos. 25-30: Even par

Once the four rounds are complete, the player with the lowest score in relation to par wins the FedEx Cup title and the $15 million bonus that comes along with it. The remaining $55 million in the bonus pool is divided based on where one ends up in the standings, with the 30th-place finisher receiving $70,000.

Jon Rahm isn’t a fan of the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs, says the format ‘isn’t fair’

Jon Rahm during the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open
Jon Rahm during the final round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines | Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

When asked his thoughts about how the FedEx Cup champion is crowned at The Northern Trust, Rahm certainly didn’t hold back, flat-out saying, “I don’t like it,” and that “it’s not fair.” And this was coming from a guy who was projected to be in the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings when he said it. We’ll get back to that in a minute.

The reigning U.S. Open champ continued by saying that while he understands why the PGA Tour wants the drama of a winner-take-all tournament, it’s really not the best way to crown a season-long champion. He then said he was told a PGA Tour official to compare it to the NFL but easily found a hole in that comparison (h/t Yahoo Sports).

“I’m a Patriots fan, and the Patriots win everything and get to the Super Bowl and they don’t win the Super Bowl, you don’t win the Lombardi Trophy, right? My answer was, they still finished second. They have to understand golf is a little different.

“At the end of the day you could win 15 events, including both playoffs events, and you have a two-shot lead [to start the week at the Tour Championship]. I understand it’s for TV purposes and excitement and just making it more of a winner-take-all, and they give you a two-shot advantage, but over four days that can be gone in two holes.”

Jon Rahm on the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs

Again, this was coming from a guy already in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings. And Rahm will likely be in the top spot heading into the BMW Championship.

Rahm came into The Northern Trust fifth in the standings

Coming into The Northern Trust, Rahm was fifth in the FedEx Cup standings with 2,003 points and trailed only Collin Morikawa (2,171), Jordan Spieth (2,139), Patrick Cantlay (2,056), and Harris English (2,039). And he’ll likely jump over all four once the weather-delayed tournament ends, even if he doesn’t hang on to win.

While tournament winners are given 500 FedEx Cup points during the regular season, victors in the first two playoff events are awarded 2,000 points. Second place receives 1,200, third place is good for 760, fourth place gets 540, and fifth place is worth 440.

Morikawa missed the cut at The Northern Trust, so he’s going to lose his top position. And Rahm is the only one in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings in contention as things wind down at Liberty National. So it’s a safe bet he’ll be in the No. 1 position heading into the BMW Championship.

But just because he’ll assumingly enjoy that top spot, he likely won’t change his mind on how the PGA Tour runs the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

Stats courtesy of

RELATED: PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs: Dustin Johnson Loses the 2020 Tour Championship Without the Staggered Stroke Format