“It’s a bit of a strange format,” Scheffler said. “I feel like I’ve joked a decent amount about being number one, you don’t get any extra strokes, and then I show up this week, I do get some extra strokes. So it’s a bit strange, but it should be a fun week.”
But even Scheffler is not a believer in this format determining a champion.
“I wouldn’t say that it is the best format to identify the best golfer for the year,” he said after his practice round Wednesday.
“I get it. It’s made for TV … With that being said … as far as identifying the best player throughout the year, I don’t think it’s the best format.”
Scheffler held the advantage last year as well.
Yet, the two-shot lead he had to start the tournament did not help in the end. Rory McIlroy chased him down in the final round of the 2022 Tour Championship to win his third FedEx Cup title.
Interestingly, since the debut of this format in 2019, only two players who started at 10-under with the two-shot advantage went on to win: Dustin Johnson in 2020 and Patrick Cantlay in 2021.
In 2019, Justin Thomas entered the week ranked first, but McIlroy raced by him to win his second FedEx Cup title.
Prior to 2019, the winner of the Tour Championship could have been different than the FedEx Cup champion. This instance happened in 2018, as Tiger Woods won the tournament, but Justin Rose was crowned FedEx Cup champion. The statistics involved in calculating the FedEx Cup champion complicated matters, hence the change to the new format.
But the newly adopted starting strokes format does not necessarily crown the best golfer of the year.
Scheffler won the Jack Nicklaus PGA Tour Player of the Year award in 2022 and very well could again this year, but that does not mean he will win the FedEx Cup.
Sure, the format rewards strokes to players who have done well all season, but it also seems to punish them if they do not win.
Rahm—who could also win the Nicklaus Award this year—does not like this format too.
“I don’t think it’s the best,” Rahm said Tuesday before the Tour Championship. “I think we can come up with something better.”
Scheffler would get on board with that plan too. Whether the Tour adopts changes in 2024 for the Tour Championship remains to be seen.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.