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Ryder Cup versus FedEx Cup: No contest

The fact that the PGA Tour felt compelled to post a “2010 Playoffs Primer” on its website, explaining how the FedEx Cup thing works, is hard, cold evidence that the playoffs are not such a great idea.

They were supposed to be golf’s version of the Super Bowl or the World Series, a season-ending showdown with a $10 million bonus awaiting the man with the most points when it’s over in a couple of weeks. But the Super Bowl and World Series don’t come with instructions for the fans.

I hang around golfers a lot and only once do I recall anyone bringing up the FedEx Cup in conversation. That one time, the man asked if I could explain it to him. I said I would be glad to but I was running late for my pedicure, or something like that. The format is too complicated, unfolding without any sense of urgency.

The right kind of champions have emerged in the three years the Cup has been contested. Tiger Woods won it twice, Vijay Singh once.

Matt Kuchar, who is having an outstanding year, leads going into the third of four playoff tournaments. Second is Charley Hoffman. The guy with the long blond hair. He went into the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second leg of the Cup race, ranked 59th. He won and jumped to second.

The guy didn’t play in a major championship this year. He has been in the top ten in four tournaments, won one. But he’s golden now.

When his perks for winning the Deutsche Bank Championship were mentioned – assurance that he will be in the final event, the Tour Championship, with a crack at the ten mill, as well as qualifying for all the majors next year, he said the best perk would be making the Ryder Cup team.

The Fed Ex Cup is a manufactured competition, four more tournaments in a long season. Numbers.

The Ryder Cup Matches are great, rich theater, full of the kind of passion that is missing in the weekly events. They offer players a chance to be teammates with guys they’ve competed against, a chance to get nervous, a chance to become crazily elated and a chance to cry.

Hoffman didn’t make the Ryder Cup team when captain Corey Pavin announced the final four selections Tuesday morning. That’s too bad. Maybe he’ll win the FedEx Cup. But it’s not the same.