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$115m FedEx Cup playoffs race explained and the two Aussies chasing big riches, and much more

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Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm, the season points leader, will be the player to catch when the PGA Tour FedEx Cup playoffs begin tonight (AEST) at the St. Jude Championship.

The top 70 players from the season — including two Australians — will tee off at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, hoping to be among 50 who advance to next week’s BMW Championship, from which the top 30 will reach the Tour Championship in two weeks at East Lake in Atlanta.

Rahm has never won the playoff top prize, which this year is $US18 million ($A27m) from a prize money pool of $US75 million ($A115m).

If he can keep the points lead through the next two events, Rahm will get a two-stroke edge to start the Tour Championship over the number two points holder, who at this point is American Scottie Scheffler, just ahead of three-time playoff winner and defending champion Rory McIlroy.

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Adam Scott misses out on FedEx Playoffs | 01:20

“You want to win every time we tee it up, but yeah, the goal is to try to get to East Lake as number one and enjoy that two-shot lead,” Rahm said Tuesday.

Rahm knows how much the extra strokes can matter. In 2021, he lost the Tour Championship by a stroke to Patrick Cantlay even though he played the four rounds in three fewer shots than the American.

“It has always made a difference,” Rahm said. “It made a difference when I finished second place. It’s the reason why they give it to you, so if we can take advantage of it, it would be nice.” Top-ranked Scheffler, second-ranked McIlroy and world number three Rahm will play together in the first two rounds.

Rahm has enjoyed an epic year with four titles, taking the Tournament of Champions and American Express titles in January, the Genesis at Riviera in February and his second major title in April at Augusta National. He also shared second last month at the British Open.

“It has been a really good season,” Rahm said. “Accomplished a lot of things I set myself out to do this year, and one of them was to be sitting right here as number one.

“Really proud of what I’ve done so far. I’m looking forward to keeping it going in the playoffs.”

Jason Day and Cameron Davis are the two Australians to have qualified, with Day in great position to go deep sitting 11th in the standings and Davis having to perform strong early with his ranking of 62nd.

Cameron Davis of Australia plays his shot from the first tee during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 06, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Cameron Davis of Australia plays his shot from the first tee during the final round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on August 06, 2023 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

FED-EX CUP PLAYOFFS — HOW IT WORKS

Golfers play for FedEx Cup points throughout the season and there’s a big change this season — with only the top 70 golfers qualifying for the end-of-season playoff, down from 125.

The tough changes resulted in some big-name casualties this year with Aussie Adam Scott and US superstar Justin Thomas among those to narrowly miss out.

This week’s St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, is the first event of the playoffs.

From there, the top 50 in the updated FedEx Cup standings will get a start at the BMW Championship Olympia Fields Country Club outside Chicago.

Only the top 30 in the standings after that event will qualify for the final event of the season, the Tour Championship — where the winner takes the $US18 million ($A27m) FedEx Cup first prize.

The tournament uses a handicap system with FedEx Cup points standings determining what score golfers start on — with those towards the top getting a huge headstart on those who only just qualify.

Tour Championship handicap system based on FedEx Cup points

1-seed: (10 under)

2-seed: (8 under)

3-seed: (7 under)

4-seed: (6 under)

5-seed: (5 under)

Seeds 6-10: (4 under)

Seeds 11-15: (3 under)

Seeds 16-20: (2 under)

Seeds 21-25: (1 under)

Seeds 26-30: (par)

THE STANDINGS (top 10)

1: Jon Rahm (3,320 points)

2: Scottie Scheffler (3,146)

3: Rory McIlroy (2,304)

4: Max Homa (2,128)

5: Wyndham Clark (1944)

6: Brian Harman (1,827)

7: Viktor Hovland (1,795)

8: Keegan Bradley (1,774)

9: Rickie Fowler (1,732)

10: Tony Finau (1,655)

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Cash, lot’s of it, but also a lot more when it comes to next season.

The 70 players who make the Wyndham Championship are guaranteed of retaining top-125 status for the following season. That status makes them exempt for all Full-Field Events and gives them a spot the prestigious Players Championship next year.

Making the 50-man field at the BMW gives players guaranteed access to all of the newly-announced ‘signature’ events for 2024. Each ‘Signature Event’ will feature approximately 70-80 of the tour’s top players competing for elevated purses and increased FedExCup points.

Qualifying for the Tour Championship carries a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, plus a shot at some whopping bonus prizemoney — even finishing last gets you more than $A700,000. See the full breakdown of the format and incentives here.

Approximate Tour Championship prizemoney in $AUS

1. $26,180,000

2. $9,450,000

3. $7,270,000

4. $5,820,000

5. $4,360,000

6. $3,640,000

7. $2,910,000

8. $2,180,000

9. $1,820,000

10. $1,450,000

11. $1,382,000

12. $1,309,000

13. $1,236,333

14. $1,163,600

15. $1,105,430

16. $1,047,250

17. $1,018,160

18. $989,070

19. $959,980

20. $930,890

21. $901,800

22. $872,710

23. $843,620

24. $821,800

25. $800,000

26. $785,440

27. $770,900

28. $756,350

29. $741,800

30. $727,250

PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

FedEx St. Jude Championship

Dates: Aug. 10-13

Course: TPC Southwind, Memphis

BMW Championship

Dates: Aug. 17-20

Course: Wilmington, Del.Wilmington Country Club, Olympia Fields, Ill.

Tour Championship

Dates: Aug 24-27

Course: East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta

ST JUDE CHAMPIONSHIP RD 1 TEE TIMES (ALL TIMES AEST)

10:50 p.m. – Thomas Detry, Taylor Montgomery, Davis Riley

11:02 p.m. – Tom Hoge, Mackenzie Hughes, Cameron Young

11:14 p.m. – Patrick Rodgers, Adam Hadwin, J.T. Poston

11:26 p.m. – Sahith Theegala, Lee Hodges, Matt Fitzpatrick

11:38 p m. – Taylor Moore, Tommy Fleetwood, Denny McCarthy

11:50 p.m. – Collin Morikawa, Kurt Kitayama, Adam Schenk

12:02 a.m. – Patrick Cantlay, Tom Kim, Sepp Straka

12:14 a.m. – Viktor Hovland, Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler

12:26 a.m. – Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy

12:38 a.m. – Brandon Wu, Hayden Buckley, Hideki Matsuyama

12:50 a.m. – Stephan Jaeger, Cam Davis, Sam Ryder

1:02 a.m. – Matt NeSmith, Vincent Norrman

1:20 a.m. – Lucas Glover, Nick Hardy, Alex Smalley

1:32 a.m. – Eric Cole, Andrew Putnam, Harris English

1:44 a.m. – Byeong Hun An, Adam Svensson, Brendon Todd

1:56 a.m. – Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im, Justin Rose

2:08 a.m. – Chris Kirk, Seamus Power, Corey Conners

2:20 a.m. – Sam Burns, Russell Henley, Emiliano Grillo

2:32 a.m. – Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton, Si Woo Kim

2:44 a.m. – Tony Finau, Jason Day, Nick Taylor

2:56 a.m. – Max Homa, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman

3:08 a.m. – Keith Mitchell, Mark Hubbard, Matt Kuchar

3:20 a.m. – Sam Stevens, Aaron Rai, Beau Hossler

3:32 a.m. – J.J. Spaun, Ben Griffin

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