WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - It's four years old and sometimes an afterthought to golf fans, both intense and casual. Tiger Woods has won two of the first three editions, to the surprise of nobody.
But the FedExCup can make or break a PGA Tour golfer's season. And it throws extra intensity into this week's Greenbrier Classic.
The FedExCup adds a playoff system of sorts into the tour's season, helping define the field for the Tour Championship in late September. Players earn points in every "regular season" tournament, in a scale that usually goes from 500 for a winner down to one point for 70th place.
After this week, there are just three weekends to score points: The Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, the PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C. Players not making the Akron tournament have another option in Verona, N.Y., which only rewards 250 points to the winner.
After Greensboro, the top 125 advance to the first round of the "playoffs" at The Barclays at Paramus, N.J. The points are quintupled as the field is pared down to 100, 70 and then 30 for the Tour Championship.
First things first: You have to make the top 125.
"You really want to be part of it," said Roland Thatcher. "If you're No. 126, you're off a month and a half, essentially, on this tour. At 125, you've got a chance to be as competitive as anybody else to get in the top 30 and make that Tour Championship."
Dean Wilson made the biggest jump last week, going from 198th to 110th with his second-place performance at the Canadian Open.
The move is huge, considering Wilson is a limited-privilege Tour player battling to gain a full card for 2011.
Winner Carl Pettersson went from 39th to 16th, firming up his spot in the "postseason." In fact, an event winner generally earns enough points to land solidly in the top 125.
A few more players to watch: Michael Letzig and Bob Estes climbed into the top 125 with fourth-place finishes in Canada, and Justin Leonard and Brett Quigley fell below the line by not playing. Lee Janzen finished 74th in Canada, falling six spots to 136th.
Jim Furyk is the highest-ranked player this week, in fifth place. He is 272 points behind leader Ernie Els.
The players seem to like the added zing of excitement, as the tour enters what can be considered a "grind" period.
"I think the FedExCup really gains good momentum as it builds up to the playoffs," said Australian John Senden, ranked 92nd.
"They had to alter the points system [after 2008] and they got it right, and now it's building momentum as it goes along. This particular event here is a great build-up to that playoff."
Top FedExCup players in The Greenbrier Classic:
Player Points Rank
Jim Furyk 1,479 5
Matt Kuchar 1,243 7
Ben Crane 1,222 8
Jeff Overton 1,136 12
Carl Pettersson 1,081 16
J.B. Holmes 1,028 19
Ricky Barnes 946 23
Nick Watney 878 27
Brandon de Jonge 799 34
Brian Davis 731 39
Kevin Na 713 42
Brian Gay 709 43
Charlie Wi 681 45
Brandt Snedeker 654 48
Charles Howell III 649 49
Matt Jones 647 50
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.