Identifying the Best of the Best

How PGA Tour players have performed in designated events compared to their season long FedEx Cup ranking


The PGA Tour’s designated events concept has proven itself. Top players appearing together on a consistent basis has resulted in numerous dramatic final rounds, a clear separation of the two top dogs this year, and a heightened sense of importance for many of the Tour’s best weeks. Shocking, right?

This spring, Joseph LaMagna proposed an idea on The Fried Egg podcast that would only allocate FedEx Cup points to designated events. To do this, the PGA Tour would need to have two different systems: one that tracks a player’s Tour status for the following season and one that tracks his eligibility for the current year’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. Joseph doesn’t believe that the two need to be linked. Instead, he believes that only the top events should qualify a player for the PGA Tour’s playoff system. Players in the second-tier events would still play for big purses, Tour status, and the ability to earn spots in designated events. They just would not be eligible for the year-end playoffs by earning points solely in lesser tournaments.

This proposal would require significant mobility between the designated events and non-designated events, which is not quite in the PGA Tour’s plans for 2024. But it would create a line of demarcation for what kind of performance really matters in the larger scheme of a PGA Tour season. Are you beating the best players on a regular basis or are you picking up cheap points in Bermuda and Punta Cana?

To see the effect this kind of proposal would have on the FedEx Cup standings, we started tracking the FEC points strictly earned in designated events. As of the end of the RBC Heritage, the PGA Tour has completed about half of its designated events, eight of 17. Here are the top 10 following the RBC Heritage:

You can see a full list of the players who have earned FedEx Cup points in designated events HERE.

A few notes at the midpoint:

  • Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler have completely separated themselves from the pack. We still talk about the top level as being Rahm, Scheffler, and Rory McIlroy, but the top two have really proven to be in a class of their own so far in 2023.
  • Not many players have a designated events-only rank that significantly outperforms their FedEx Cup rank, but there are a few. Tyrrell Hatton (No. 9 in D.E. Only vs. No. 35 in FEC), Harris English (No. 20 vs. No. 43), Justin Thomas (No. 22 vs. No. 65) and Hideki Matsuyama (No. 25 vs. No. 55) all stand out as players who would benefit from FEC points being allocated strictly to the top events.
  • On the other side of the coin, a few players have done very little in designated events but have high FedEx Cup rankings because of their work in the lesser events. Those that stand out include Chris Kirk (No. 6 in FEC vs No. 71 in D.E. only), Seamus Power (No. 12 vs. No. 40), and Taylor Moore (No. 13 vs. No. 42).

To Joseph’s point, it is certainly possible for someone like Chris Kirk to clean up in non-designated events, do very little in the big tournaments, and enter the FedEx Cup Playoffs as a top-10 player in the standings. Is that really what they want? Or should the Tour prioritize having its playoff qualification focused on strong play in its best events?