FedEx Cup playoffs, explained: Updated standings, points format & more to know about golf's 2021 championship

Written By Edward Sutelan
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It's time for the end of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season.

The top 125 golfers from the past year have begun going through the final stretch of the year with the FedEx Cup playoffs, starting with The Northern Trust, then the BMW Championship before they end at the Tour Championship.

The field will go from the full 125 down to 70 for the BMW Championship and down to 30 for the Tour Championship. Those final 30 golfers will each get a cut of the largest purse in the tour, with the winner taking home a major prize.

Here's everything you need to know about the 2021 FedEx Cup, including standings, rules, points, schedules and payouts.

MORE: Watch the FedEx Cup Playoffs live on fuboTV (7-day free trial)

FedEx Cup standings 2021

Following the end of the BMW Championship, the field of golfers will be cut down to just 30 for the Tour Championship. 

Here is a look at the standings after The Northern Trust, won by Tony Finau, and the BMW Championship, which was won by Patrick Cantlay.

Rank Player Points
1. Patrick Cantley 4,302
2. Tony Finau 3,564
3. Bryson DeChambeau 3,189
4. Jon Rahm 3,063
5. Cameron Smith 2,821
6. Justin Thomas 2,371
7. Harris English 2,248
8. Abraham Ancer 2,241
9. Jordan Spieth 2,232
10. Sam Burns 2,214
11. Collin Morikawa 2,188
12. Sungjae Im 2,141
13. Viktor Hovland 1,951
14. Louis Oosthuizen 1,935
15. Dustin Johnson 1,890
16. Rory McIlroy 1,878
17. Xander Schaffele 1,854
18. Jason Kokrak 1,847
19. Kevin Na 1,816
20. Brooks Koepka 1,793
21. Corey Conners 1,684
22. Hideki Matsuyama 1,681
23. Stewart Cink 1,656
24. Joaquin Niemann 1,629
25. Scottie Scheffler 1,608
26. Daniel Berger 1,594
27. Erik van Rooyen 1,448
28. Sergio Garcia 1,400
29. Billy Horschel 1,397
30. Patrick Reed 1,381

How do the FedEx Cup Playoffs work?

Golfers have spent the past 11 months racking up points during the regular season in the PGA Tour. When Kevin Kisner won the Wyndham Championship on Aug. 15, the regular season came to a close, and the 125 golfers with the most points moved on to the playoffs.

First up, they compete in The Northern Trust. Playoff points are significantly higher in the playoffs than the regular season — more on that later — so it is more important than ever to make the cut. However, golfers that don't can still reach the second round, which is the BMW Championship. The top 70 golfers in points will compete in the event, and all of them will remain throughout the entire four rounds as they hope to earn a top 30 spot in the Tour Championship.

Winning the Tour Championship is big. Golfers that come in first not only get a nice paycheck, but they grab a tour exemption for the next five years.

FedEx Cup points system

Golfers can earn 500 points for winning a normal PGA Tour event; 550 for winning at the World Golf Championships, The Genesis Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Memorial Tournament; 600 for the top spot in the Masters, PLAYERS, US Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship; and 300 for additional events. Golfers that reach the 36-hole cut in any tournament automatically receive points that get progressively lower.

While it helps to perform well during the regular season, the playoffs crank the point totals up a notch. In winning The Northern Trust, Finau earned 2,000 points. Second place earns 1,200, third hits 760 and so on. The winner of the BMW Championship will benefit from the same amount of points. Click here for a full breakdown of playoff points.

However, once the Tour Championship comes around, all previously accumulated points go out. The benefit to racking up the points is to secure a spot in the exclusive top 30 needed to reach the final round and to earn a nice handicap to begin the championship.

Here is the full handicap system:

  • 1-seed: (10 under)
  • 2-seed: (8 under)
  • 3-seed: (7 under)
  • 4-seed: (6 under)
  • 5-seed: (5 under)
  • Seeds 6-10: (4 under)
  • Seeds 11-15: (3 under)
  • Seeds 16-20: (2 under)
  • Seeds 21-25: (1 under)
  • Seeds 26-30: (par)

FedEx Cup Playoffs schedule

The Northern Trust

  • Dates: Aug. 19-23
  • Winner: Tony Finau
  • Course: Liberty National Golf Course
  • Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Tony Finau kicked off the FedEx Cup Playoffs with a win in a playoff against Cameron Smith to take the lead in the standings. The win makes sure that he is positioned well heading into the second round, the BMW Championship, and ultimately for the Tour Championship, where the leader will start at 10 under.

BMW Championship

  • Dates: Aug. 26-29
  • Winner: Patrick Cantlay
  • Course: Caves Valley Golf Club
  • Location: Owings Mills, Maryland

The top 70 golfers in the FedEx Cup standings will travel to Owings Mills, Maryland, to play at the Caves Valley Golf Club. And unlike other events, all 70 golfers will play until the end, regardless of their position after the first 36 holes.

Tour Championship

  • Dates: Sept. 2-5
  • Course: East Lake Golf Club
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

This will be the final event of the 2020-21 PGA Tour and the last chance for golfers to earn their big pay day at the end of the season. The East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta will host the event, as it has done since 2004.

FedEx Cup payouts 2021

Winning the FedEx Cup Playoffs always results in a massive payday. The winner gets to take home $15 million of the total $60 million prize pool. That is $10 million more than what the second-place finisher will earn.

Last year, Dustin Johnson earned $15 million for winning the Tour Championship. Here's how the 2020 field wound up shaking out.

Rank Player Payout
1. Dustin Johnson $15 million
T-2. Xander Schauffele $4.5 million
T-2. Justin Thomas $4.5 million
4. Jon Rahm $3 million
5. Scottie Scheffler $2.5 million
6. Collin Morikawa $1.9 million
7. Tyrrell Hatton $1.3 million
T-8. Rory McIlroy $960,000
T-8. Sebastian Munoz $960,000
T-8. Patrick Reed $960,000
11. Sungjae Im $750,000
T-12. Harris English $682,500
T-12. Webb Simpson $682,500
14. Mackenzie Hughes $620,000
T-15. Daniel Berger $582,500
T-15. Hideki Matsuyama $582,500
17. Tony Finau $550,000
T-18. Abraham Ancer $527,500
T-18. Lanto Griffin $527,500
T-20. Viktor Hovland $497,500
T-20. Brendon Todd $497,500
22. Bryson DeChambeau $478,000
23. Kevin Kisner $466,000
T-24. Cameron Champ $445,333
T-24. Cameron Smith $445,333
T-24. Ryan Palmer $445,333
T-27. Kevin Na $420,000
T-27. Joaquin Niemann $420,000
29. Marc Leishman $405,000
30. Billy Horschel $395,000

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