The final weeks of the 2020-2021 PGA Tour season may be the most intense, the most interesting, the most intriguing and the most rewarding finish that men’s professional golf has ever seen. Consider what it included:

• It began in mid-July with golf’s oldest Major, the Open Championship, being played for the first time since 2019 due to last year’s cancellation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• Two weeks later were the Olympic Games in Japan, just the second time golf was included after a more-than century-old absence. “It’s the Olympics,” said Collin Morikawa. “It’s something that I never thought I would even have a chance to play in. But to have that opportunity, to represent your country, there’s really nothing like it.”

• After the Olympics was the final World Golf Championships event of the season, the WGC–FedEx St Jude Invitational. Morikawa and Billy Horschel won the first two WGCs played in 2021; Justin Thomas won last year’s event in Memphis, Tennessee. The no-cut event for the world’s top-ranked players is always a recipe for drama.

• Then it’s the final week of the regular season, the Wyndham Championship, the last chance for PGA Tour players to either make or improve their position in the FedExCup Playoffs. Also decided that week is the Comcast Business Tour Top 10, with a $US10 million bonus purse being divided among the top 10 players in regular-season points.

• The last three weeks, of course, are devoted to those FedExCup Playoffs. The Northern Trust at Liberty National kicks things off with its field of 125 players. The top 70 players in points will advance to the BMW Championship at Caves Valley outside Baltimore. From there, the top 30 survivors advance to the Tour Championship at East Lake, where the FedExCup will be decided using the Starting Strokes staggered scoring system.

Dustin Johnson is the reigning FedEx Cup holder.

So to recap: The Claret Jug, Olympic medals, a WGC title, the regular-season finale/top 10 bonus and the FedExCup title – which, you may recall, comes with a $US15 million bonus for the winner. (Throw in the Ryder Cup in late September and, well, it’s an embarrassment of golf-watching riches.)

Plainly, there’s a reason the 2020-2021 schedule was dubbed the “Super Season”. Said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan when the schedule was released: “If youre a golf fan, this is a dream season with more significant events than ever before, including the Olympic Games. What more can you ask for?”

Consider it a reward for dealing with the nightmare of the pandemic, which interrupted the previous tour season and forced the cancellation or postponement of more than a dozen events. As a result, this season has technically included six Majors, since the Masters and US Open were rescheduled to late 2020 after the tour’s wraparound season had already started.

Of course, you won’t hear any golf fans complain about having so many big events in one PGA Tour season, along with the two-month sprint to the finish.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult 14 months for everyone,” Ireland’s Shane Lowry said recently. Lowry held onto the claret jug for two years after his 2019 Open win at Royal Portrush. “I think sport does have a huge part to play in everyone’s kind of well-being and health, mental health.”

Lowry’s two-year hold on the trophy, incidentally, was the longest by an Open winner since Dick Burton won in 1939. The next Open would not be played until 1946, after World War II. When The Open was cancelled last year, Lowry was initially disappointed. But then he realised he’d get to keep the claret jug another year, and in turn defend his crowd in front of fans.

“Im going to prefer going back defending my title with crowds as opposed to being there last July with no crowds,” Lowry said prior to the championship.

Having fans at golf events certainly is among the biggest positives of this Super Season compared to last year when play resumed without fans due to COVID protocols. When Dustin Johnson won the FedExCup last year, he did not get to bask with fans circling the 18th green. 

This year, just like in England, there will be a limited number of fans allowed at the Tour Championship. Same for the other events down the stretch. It does make a difference.

“Its fun to have them out there and have the support,” said Spain’s Jon Rahm, who won the US Open in June. “I feel like it was a pretty big adjustment to not having fans out there, especially if you’re used to playing in feature groups and in groups that usually are going to carry some people. So you get used to sometimes feeding off the energy of the fans… It’s nice to have them back.”

Don’t be surprised if those fans see history in those last two months. After all, making history seems to be all the rage already at this season’s biggest events.

At the Players Championship in March, Thomas set a tournament record with his weekend performance of 12-under to win at TPC Sawgrass. A month later, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama became the first Asian winner of the Masters. And in May, 50-year-old Phil Mickelson became the oldest Major winner in men’s golf when he claimed the PGA Championship.

“Its inspiring to watch him do that at a high level for many, many years,” said fellow left-hander Bubba Watson when asked about Mickelson’s victory. “Gosh, its pretty inspiring. I think a lot of people around the world were inspired. Just to, whatever your job is or whatever you’re wanting to do, to get more focus and it was just special to watch and witness history.”

And that’s what makes the last two months so intriguing. It’s a historical stretch in terms of all the big trophies – and Olympic medals – up for grabs in such a compact timeframe. The pressure-packed three-tournament stretch of the FedExCup Playoffs will decide its 15th champion. Post-season awards and bragging rights also are at stake.

“Being a FedEx Cup champion is something that I really wanted to do,” Johnson said after winning last year’s title. “I wanted to hold that trophy at the end of the day. It was something that I wanted to accomplish during my career, and obviously I got one of them. Now I’m going to try to get me another.”

The challenge for all golfers will be whether they can maintain focus and handle the pressure without any down time. Too much is at stake to allow your attention span to drift. 

Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, who combined to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this year, are on track to qualify for the top-30 Tour Championship, while Matt Jones, Cam Davis, who broke through for his first PGA Tour victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, Jason Day and Adam Scott should easily qualify for the Playoffs to give themselves a chance at shooting for the PGA Tour’s most prestigious title, the season-long FedExCup trophy.

Of course, that also goes for golf fans. Don’t blink in those last few weeks. You’re likely to miss something important. 

Official content of the PGA Tour