December 7, 2013
Qualifying-school escape route is closed
If you’re wondering how qualifying for the next PGA Tour season works now that there’s no end-year Q-School, well, we’re now down to the hard -knocks period.
First, all seventy-five players at the Barclays (second stage of the FedEx Cup playoffs) have already qualified for their 2013-2014 season card. That’s one of major differences from recent seasons, when the top 125 had secure playing rights.
Now, following the Tour Championship, the next seventy-five players on the regular tour FedEx Cup standings will play a four-tournament series that will also include the top seventy-five players on the Web.com money list.
Although the top-twenty five players from this season’s Web.com Tour already have secured their cards on the top tour for 2013-14, there are an additional twenty-five cards available to the top finishers in what used to be known as the Fall Series.
The good news is that even those who don’t secure full PGA Tour rights will automatically gain Web.com status, and under the new rules some players who have say, made the 126-150 FedEx ranking during the 2013 season will still get some limited PGA Tour player-status. Past winner and career money will also have some impact on sponsor invitation opportunities, but the plan to shake up the overall mix of career journeymen and new blood is now very much under way.
One “victim” of the new system is Andrés Romero, currently 120th on the FedEx Cup points list. Under the old rule of first to 125th places retaining their player card, Romero would have been comfortably inside the line, currently 115th on the money standings after earning 718,500 dollars from twenty-one starts this year, including an oh-so-nearly T-2 at the Reno-Tahoe Open in August.
Now he’ll have to battle for his future livelihood with the young flat-bellies who’ve been sharpening their wits in the cut-and-thrust Web.com arena.
That’s a better prospect than many now have. Without the fallback position of the erstwhile December Qualifying School, players who slipped outside the top-two hundred prior to the conclusion of the Barclays simply will not have a US venue to peddle their skills.
Even someone as feted as 46-year-old Billy Mayfair, a 5-time Tour winner and past Tour Championship winner who slid just under the 200-mark prior to the Barclays, will be out in the cold unless he garners past-winner invitations.
How this new shakeout will affect the PGA’s Latin American and Canadian Tours is not as yet clear. Purses on both Tours have been at the 150,000 dollar mark in 2013, compared to an average of around four times that amount on the Web.com. However, other than Europe or Asia with long-haul travel, the newly-unemployed don’t have many options, and for those with family responsibilities nearer home opportunities could be significantly more attractive.
The next Latin American Tour qualifying schools, one in South America and the other in Florida, will be held in February 2014, for Canada in April. It would hardly be surprising to find both schools with plenty of fresh but well-versed students.