“It’s going to be bizarre,” Justin Thomas proclaimed in anticipation of this week’s Tour Championship because the PGA Tour roll out their newest try at golf’s reply to the Tremendous Bowl.
That’s as a result of Thomas, recent from successful the BMW Championship, now leads the FedEx Cup standings, the Tour’s cumulative year-long factors chief board, to take a two-shot lead into Thursday’s play-off finale.
Final yr we had the baffling scenario of two winners with Tiger Woods successful the match, however Justin Rose prevailing within the FedEx Cup to pocket the obscene $10 million (£8.2m) bonus. Innovation is significant at a time when golf is struggling to draw and maintain followers. So whereas this yr’s staggered handicap system, merging the 2 competitions collectively, isn’t excellent, it’s actually much less perplexing for viewers.
The PGA Tour has even cranked up the winner’s prize to $15m (£12.35m) this yr for the participant who emerges from this 30-strong area. That sum alone would place you 122nd within the all-time profession earnings record, topping Greg Norman, who spent 331 weeks as the sport’s finest participant.
Second place on Sunday will land $5m (£4.1m), which presents this tantalising prospect: a putt on the 72nd gap value $10m (£8.25m) and maybe the closest instance sport may ever discover to clutch.
Useless final week by the way brings dwelling $395,000 (£325,000), so any niggling harm ought to disappear somewhat faster than it would normally.
Golf is compelled into this unique, lavish finale to some extent, as not like different sports activities, their stars, whereas boasting better longevity, wrestle to push the monetary limits obtainable to different athletes. Brooks Koepka has earned virtually $10m this season in prize cash in comparison with Steph Curry’s $40m per yr cope with the Golden State Warriors, or Neymar, who earns an identical quantity.
Thomas, a real star in his personal proper, leads the standings and subsequently begins on Thursday at 10-under, two away from Patrick Cantlay and his breakout yr, and yet another adrift of Koepka. It’s a baffling predicament for the present world No 1 and sure-fire participant of the yr, who can boast three wins this season, together with the PGA Championship, in addition to runner-ups at The Masters and US Open, plus a tied-fourth at The Open. But he might conceivably shoot a decrease complete rating than Thomas and miss out on the jackpot.
Amid groans over gradual play and debate over course set-up, following the notoriously treacherous Medinah being chewed up and spat out final week, it’s a reduction to welcome the elite competing with such intense strain, even whether it is artificially manufactured by cash, reasonably than the status and historical past of the majors.
The unique area right here, whittled down over current weeks, ensures the conspicuous absence of Tiger Woods, in addition to Open champion Shane Lowry.
“I actually don’t know what to anticipate,” Thomas claimed. “There’s no person within the historical past of this sport that has skilled it so no person is aware of.
“There’s so many variables and questions I’ve and this and that. If I birdie the primary gap what am I at? I don’t know. Do I shoot a rating, do I not? No matter.”
Many share Thomas’ trepidation concerning the format this week, however ought to it resonate with the viewers, golf, away from the majors and the Ryder Cup, may lastly break by means of into the mainstream.
10 below – Justin Thomas
Eight below – Patrick Cantlay
7 below – Brooks Koepka
6 below – Patrick Reed
5 below – Rory McIlroy
Four below – Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer
three below – Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama
2 below – Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler, Kevin Kisner
1 below – Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners, Sungjae Im, Chez Reavie
Even par – Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen, Charles Howell III, Lucas Glover, Jason Kokrak