07/10/2013

It is indeed official. The PGA Tour announced the changes for the 2013 PGA Tour season, stripping the Qualifying School of the right to grant PGA Tour cards. The changes come as a welcome note for some players, but it was still more than slightly controversial on Tour. Young players finding their way via developmental Tours welcomed the changes as some Tour veterens such as Mark Wilson – who found their way to Tour through Q-School – were saddened to see it leave.

The main objective I see in eliminating the Q-School to PGA Tour route is the fact that so many qualified players on the Web.com Tour (formerly, Nationwide) were leap frogged to the top echelon by players who play a ‘hot 6 rounds of golf’ in Q School. I personally, welcome the changes and am excited to see them play out in 2013. The new format runs as follows:

– Same as always, the top 25 money list earners on the Web.com (Nationwide, I know just reminding) Tour will earn their PGA Tour cards and a trip directly to the PGA Tour for the following season

– Players 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list and the 75 players outside of the top 25 on the Web.com will compete in a 3 week “Playoff” or “Play-in” or “Fed-Ex Cup Playoffs on Steroids” circuit to decide their fates for the following season (officially called “The Finals”). The top 25 on a 3 week money list will earn (or re-new) their Tour cards.  (I only say Fed-Ex Cup on steroids, because of the heightened pressure of playing for a JOB (!) as opposed to an additional $10 million to an already stable Tour bank account)

– Once the 50 cards are assigned…Q-School. HOLD ON, Q School isn’t going anywhere, don’t worry…It will now only present players with a Web.com Tour playing card, giving them an entire season to prove their metal on the best developmental Tour in the world before they hit the big stage.

I love the changes made. Commissioner Finchem made the changes to present the PGA Tour with more ‘ready to compete’ players and also, to enhance the competitiveness of the Web.com Tour as a whole. Let’s be honest, the Fall Series was beginning to lose its ooomph (per se ‘Power’) with the Fed-Ex Cup already decided and 25 players already earning playing privileges through Q-School. The Fall Series was really becoming a ‘numbers 120-130 on the money list start shaking, everyone else play for some bonus bucks’ type of tournament slate.

And calm down….players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and the recent Bud Cauley will still be able to earn their cards, playing their way into the Tour. This simply just ties the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour more closely together and gives us golf fanatics some more pressure packed fall golf to watch in our pumpkin pie covered sweaters.

Troy Klongerbo