ATLANTA – The volatility of the points system in the FedExCup plays is evident at the top of the standings.
Billy Horschel and Hunter Mahan each had ordinary seasons on the PGA Tour and won at the right time – Mahan at The Barclays, Horschel at the BMW Championship. That means both are among the top five seeds going into the Tour Championship, where a victory comes with a $10 million bonus.
But consider the plight of three others.
Morgan Hoffmann started the playoffs at No. 124, earning a spot at The Barclays by a mere 11 points. He had not registered a top 10 all season. But he tied for ninth at The Barclays and moved up to No. 72. He tied for 35th at the Deutsche Bank Championship and narrowly advanced in the playoffs by moving up to No. 68. And then a 62-63 weekend at the BMW Championship jumped him all the way up to No. 21.
His only top 10s of the year were enough to get him into the Tour Championship – and at least three majors next year, including the Masters.
"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the Masters," Hoffmann said.
Cameron Tringale had a pair of fourth-place finishes this year and started the FedExCup at No. 61. He tied for second at The Barclays and was set for East Lake.
And then there's Geoff Ogilvy.
He hasn't been to the Masters since 2012. He missed the British Open for the first time in 10 years. The former U.S. Open champion effectively secured tee times at Augusta National and St. Andrews thanks to 27 holes that he played in 12-under par on the weekend at the Deutsche Bank Championship. That carried him to a three-way tie for second, and it was enough for him to get to the Tour Championship.
"Good for me this year, I guess," Ogilvy said in an email. "Probably one or two like me every year with this format."
The question is how much longer this format will last.
The PGA Tour has been evaluating whether awarding five times the value of points in the playoffs is too much. Commissioner Tim Finchem held off a few years ago, wanting to avoid another series of changes for a series that only began in 2007.
But there are indications this could be the year that the points value in the playoffs are reduced a fraction to allow for volatility without giving too many points for three tournaments.
"I don't think we need more volatility," Finchem said Tuesday. "One of the things we wrestled with the last few years is should we pull the volatility back down a little bit. ... First two years, pretty much decided we didn't want to make any more changes for a while. So we took it under advisement. And we've looked at it. I wouldn't rule it out.
"We certainly want to make sure everybody understand we're keeping our options open in that regard."