Woods Likens Play-Off Changes To Paul Lawrie’s 1999 Open Success

Tiger Woods has likened radical changes to the three-event FedEx Cup Play-Off Series starting this week in New Jersey to Paul Lawrie coming from 10 shots back to capture the 1999 Open Championship.

Woods is returning to competition for a first occasion since missing the halfway cut at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

He is joining 122 of the PGA Tour’s leading 125 money-earners this season in the Northern Trust being staged on the Liberty National course overlooking the Statue of Liberty.

The Northern Trust is the first to three FedEx Cup ‘Play-Off Series’ events in succession with the FedEx Cup champion to be crowned on August 25th at the close of the Tour Championship in suburban Atlanta.

The first change is that the points for the first two events will be quadrupled.

Paul Lawrie comes from 10 shots back on the final day to capture the 1999 Open

The leading 70 on the money list at the end of this week move onto next week’s BMW Championship at Medinah near Chicago and lie the 13 past years, the leading 30 then head to the Tour Championship, and it is the Tour Championship where the biggest change has been made.

Instead of a points reset used in the previous format, the new format for East Lake starting this season involves a strokes-based bonus system called FedExCup Starting Strokes. Each player will start with a score (relative to par) corresponding to his position in FedExCup points after the BMW Championship.

In essence it means the leading money-earner arriving at East Lake will start at 10-under par, the second at eight-under, the third at seven-under, the sixth to 10th place on four-under and so on down to those ranked 26th to 30th on the money-like who will tee-up at level par.

It is for this reason Woods, and who captured last year’s Tour Championship, sounds indifferent to the changes.

“It is something we all have to figure out as I don’t know whether the new handicapping system that is being implemented is going to be different for all of us,” he said.

“The thing is since we started the FedEx Cup it’s been different a lot given how the points are structured.  How it’s weighted.  We saw years back Vijay (Singh) didn’t even have to tee it up at East Lake one year and he had it locked-up.

“We are trying to make the system perfect.  Trying to make it great for all of us.

“NASCAR didn’t get it right the first time around and they made a few changes and we are doing the same thing.  This is no different and we are making slight adjustments.

“This year is going to be a challenge for all of us.  It’s going to be weird.  It’s going to be weird for all of us.

“We all have been 10 shots back after one day or with 54-holes to go or 36-holes to go.  We Paul Lawrie in 1999 as he was 10 shots back with one round to go.

“But starting out 10 back is going different for the guys who will be in the Tour Championship.  It’s really puts a premium on placement going into that week as to where you are seeded, as you don’t want to be too far back.  You just don’t want to give any top player too far a lead or too far a start especially the way Brooksie (Brooks Koepka) has been playing.”

And Woods is not to first to sound his slight displeasure at the new ‘condensed’ season that saw the staging of the four Majors, the Players Championship and the WGCs just weeks apart.

“The new condensed year means I cannot practice as much as I like and it’s not even a sniff on how much I used to practice,” he said.

“So, that’s a challenge in trying to build-up to events is more difficult and now we have a new season where it’s condensed, and it certainly poses a challenge.

“There is concern for me given the pressures I would be facing in hopefully putting myself into contention, and that’s why it’s get diffcult.  If I was missing cuts, who cares but if I try to get myself where I am in contention it takes a toll of you and that is the type of tiredness I want to feel in having a chance to win.

“That’s a good feeling.”

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