We knew it was coming. The PGA Tour has made no bones about the fact that Q-School, as we knew it, would cease to exist in the near future. Back in March, the PGA Tour announced the basic framework of how the new "path to the PGA Tour" would be designed, but they were still working out the details on how exactly the 50 Tour Cards would be distributed.
Here's what I got out of the articles I read on http://www.pgatour.com/:
The "Finals" series starts from scratch and there is no seeding or ranking that gives any player any advantage (think FedEx Cup points reshuffle). So the current PGA Tour guys and the Nationwide guys trying to get to the big show will all be at the same starting line.
Of the 50 cards available, 25 will be given out to the top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour. The top player on the money list will be fully exempted into the 2013 season. In addition, the winner of the "Finals" series will also be fully exempt.
It's important to note that players who get their PGA Tour cards have different levels of exemption status, so players that might qualify by being in the Top 25 on the Web.com Tour may still play in the "Finals" in order to improve their exemption status. And with the purses for those 3 tournaments expected to be $1 million, players will be competing for paychecks, too.
So...there is no longer a "Fall Series" on the PGA Tour where there has historically been a race to get into the Top 125 on the money list. PGA Tour players will know their fate after the last week of the FedEx Cup regular season since now all PGA Tour players will be ranked by their FedEx Cup points instead of money earnings. Once the playoffs start for the FedEx Cup, those players ranked 126-200 in FedEx Cup points move over to the "Finals" series along with the Web.com guys and fight it out for 25 Tour Cards.
Speaking of Web.com...I don't know about you, but I was a little confused when I heard about some Web.com standings. I thought maybe there was another new tour. But just a few weeks ago the PGA Tour secured Web.com as the "umbrella sponsor" of what was formally known as the Nationwide Tour...the transfer started immediately so the new name is up and running and they will be partnering through 2021. And just in case you were wondering, Nationwide is moving its sponsorship money over to the Memorial Tournament since the company is located in Ohio instead of sponsoring the "developmental tour".
So, what happens to Q-school and all of the dreamers who take the journey each fall? Well, there is going to be a Q-school, but the dream changes a bit - players will now be qualifying for the Web.com Tour instead of leaping all the way to the PGA Tour.
So we've got a Q-school, but it won't get you to the PGA Tour. We don't have a fall series on the PGA Tour after 2012, but there will be a "Finals" series in the Fall of 2013 to find 25 players worthy of playing on the PGA Tour. What stays the same is that the top 25 of the newly named Web.com Tour will also get PGA Tour cards at the end of their season.
And seasons change...the PGA Tour season will begin in October now instead of January. And those fall tournaments, which used to just field mostly those that were trying to break into the top 125 on the money list will now be full FedEx Cup points events for the coming season, so we may just see some big names liking the idea of some fall golf!
And I guess we're saying good-bye to the Money List statistic as well, since PGA Tour players will now qualify with FedEx Cup points instead. I haven't read why that change is important, but I wonder if it might have anything to do with directing people away from the fact that golfers make A LOT of money. Over at http://www.kerplookee.com/ we play a salary cap format that reminds me each week of how much players make (we use their last year's earnings as their salary price for the year). Or maybe FedEx just wants us to say their name more often.
Supposedly all of this was done to assure that only the best players will be competing on the PGA Tour. And maybe that will be the case. But there's still a part of me that feels sad for the dreamers who wait for their chance to compete at Q-school each fall for the chance to step on the biggest golf stage in the world. The road to get to Q-school is grueling and for those that outlast pre-qualifying, the first and second stages, just to get to the final 6 round last stage AND make the top 25 have not only made a dream come true but have proven that it takes more than 3 tournaments to make them capable of playing great golf. I'm sorry to see that dream end for so many.
But I guess the upside is that we may see more competition on the Web.com tour and we'll get to know those players competing to get to take that leap to the PGA Tour. So let's hope that means players will be able to afford to play that Tour in order to follow their dreams.
I still love you, Q-school!!
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Filed under: Q School, PGA Tour, Cathy Erickson, Kerplookee, Fall Series, web.com tour