2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs standings, format, schedule: Patrick Cantlay on top entering Tour Championship

Written by on August 29, 2021

With two events in the books, only the Tour Championship — and the lion’s share of the available bonus money — remains over the final week of the 2021 FedEx Cup Playoffs. Patrick Cantlay won the BMW Championship in a six-hole playoff over Bryson DeChambeau to become the new leader in the FedEx Cup standings. Tony Finau, winner of The Northern Trust, sits in second with DeChambeau in third.

As such, Cantlay will open the Tour Championship as the leader at 10 under with Finau two and DeChambeau three strokes back ahead of the final 72 holes of the PGA Tour season.

Here’s a breakdown (and reminder!) of how the FedEx Cup Playoffs work, what to expect now that the second round is complete and how everything will play out over this week as the best in the world make one final push toward the finale.

What’s left?

Event: Tour Championship

Dates: Sept. 2-5

Location: East Lake Golf Club — Atlanta

Field size: 30

Though all three playoff events are 72-hole stroke-play tournaments, the fields gradually got smaller as we zero in on a $15 million winner at the Tour Championship. The metrics change during the playoffs, too, as everything is quadrupled. In the last regular season event, Kevin Kisner got 500 FedEx Cup points for winning the Wyndham Championship. Finau got 2,000 points for winning The Northern Trust, while Cantlay picked up 2,000 for the BMW Championship. That goes for every slot on the leaderboard (300 for second becomes 1,200 and so on). Only five golfers surpassed the 2,000-point total during the entire regular season, which means the FedEx Cup standings can shift quite a bit over the first two playoff events. Winners are disproportionately rewarded.

Cantlay and Finau are sitting pretty at the Tour Championship. In the first year of this format, Patrick Reed won The Northern Trust and started the Tour Championship in fourth. Justin Thomas won the second playoff event and started the Tour Championship in first. Last year, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm won the first two events and started first and second at the Tour Championship. There is a lot of movement to be had over the next two weeks before the grand finale.

Tour Championship format

Going into the Tour Championship inside the top five or top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings is important because of how scoring is dispersed. With Cantlay starting the Tour Championship at 10 under, he has a clear advantage. The event is played under normal scoring conditions from there. Second starts at 8 under and so on (see full numbers below). With so much money at stake, those margins become more meaningful than even a normal week. The eventual winners of the last two have started first and fifth.

  • 1st: Starts Tour Championship at -10
  • 2nd: -8
  • 3rd: -7
  • 4th: -6
  • 5th: -5
  • 6th-10th: -4
  • 11th-15th: -3
  • 16th-20th: -2
  • 21st-25th: -1
  • 26th-30th: E

Prize money

The numbers are startling. The winner of the Tour Championship gets $15 million. If you make it to the final event at all, you’re guaranteed $395,000 even if you finish 30th. Everyone who made it to the BMW Championship is guaranteed at least $140,000. Heck, everyone who finished in the top 125 is guaranteed at least $101,000. And all of this is on top of what the tournaments themselves pay out. Add it all up, and FedEx is giving out $60 million in bonus funds to the best players in the world.

  • 1st: $15 million
  • 2nd: $5 million
  • 3rd: $4 million
  • 4th: $3 million
  • 5th: $2.5 million
  • 6th: $1.9 million
  • 7th: $1.3 million
  • 8th: $1.1 million
  • 9th: $950K
  • 10th $830K

FedEx Cup Playoffs standings

The current top 10 going into the Tour Championship is an amalgamation of this season’s best players as well as those (like Finau and Cameron Smith) who thrived at The Northern Trust two weeks ago. Players who were great all year as well as players who were great for the last eights rounds — even better if you were both like Jon Rahm, currently fourth and the long-time favorite to win the Tour Championship) — also have fantastic chances to win.

1 (4)

Patrick Cantlay


2 (1)

Tony Finau

3,564 (-738)

3 (9)

Bryson DeChambeau

3,189 (-1,113)

4 (2)

Jon Rahm

3,063 (-1,239)

5 (3)

Cameron Smith

2,821 (-1,481)

6 (3)

Justin Thomas

2,371 (-1,931)

7 (8)

Harris English

2,248 (-2,054)

8 (10)

Abraham Ancer

2,241 (-2,061)

9 (7)

Jordan Spieth

2,232 (-2,070)

10 (12)

Sam Burns

2,214 (2,088)

There are some interesting storylines here. Patrick Reed, who is ranked 30th and actually qualified for the Tour Championship despite not playing the first two rounds of the playoffs, was hospitalized last weekend and is not expected to play. That means he likely won’t appear at the Tour Championship for the first time in eight years. Rory McIlroy, off a great performance at the BMW Championship, saved his candidacy as he currently sits in 16th. 

All of this makes for some fascinating storylines going entering the Tour Championship. Making it to East Lake as one of the final 30 players standing in any season is an underrated achievement. It’s extraordinarily difficult to do, and we probably don’t use it as a barometer for a strong season often enough.

Throw in Ryder Cup pressure for a lot of guys — on the U.S. side, automatic qualifying ends this weekend though final captain’s picks won’t be made until after the Tour Championship — and there is a ton to follow over the next four rounds of golf.

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