GOlf: Creating more playing opportunities on PGA Tour
New York • PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is not inclined to make drastic changes next year that would create more starts for players who earn their cards through the Web.Com Tour Finals.
Last year was the first time 50 players earned their cards through the four-tournament series. That replaced the old system of 25 players from the Web.com Tour money list and the top 25 players and ties from Q-school.
The concern was that some players who were low on the priority ranking did not get to play enough tournaments.
An internal document at the tour shows that players from No. 30 and lower on the list wound up playing about five fewer tournaments than the old system. The comparison was with 2012, because 2013 was a short season to prepare for the new wraparound schedule.
"One of the things we’re concerned about is if a player who comes out at the bottom of the list off the Web.com, in some cases it’s a player who since he was 8 years old wanted to be on the PGA Tour," Finchem said at The Barclays. "You want that player to have a reasonable number of tournaments to be able to have a fair test."
Some examples from the tour’s research:
— The player at No. 10 on the priority list had 28 opportunities in open events in 2012, compared with 23 times last season.
— The player at No. 30 went from 23 opportunities in 2012 to 18.
— The last player on the priority list went from 19 opportunities in open events two years ago to only 13 last year.
The biggest problem was the tour didn’t anticipate so many veterans competing in the fall, which filled up the fields and made it difficult for the newcomers off the priority list to get into tournaments.
Here are a few other comparisons:
— Of the 50 players who earned cards through the Web.com Tour Finals, 16 qualified for the FedEx Cup playoffs. The previous year, 18 players qualified for the playoffs from the 48 players who earned cards either through the Web.com money list or the old Q-school.
— The top half of those 50 players on the priority list averaged 22.4 tournaments, compared with 18.1 tournaments by the lower half.
Another problem was the high number of major medical extensions that Finchem granted. Players on a major medical extension have a higher priority than Web.com Tour Finals graduates when deciding to gets into tournaments.
Finchem said his staff is evaluating who gets major medical extensions and for how long.
Even so, he is hesitant to make major changes until at least another year of this wraparound season. Plus, there should be more chances for newcomers based on some schedule changes. The tour is expanding the field sizes for the Frys.com Open and the Las Vegas event. The Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi, left off the 2013-14 schedule, will be played in the fall. The tour also added an event in Alabama next year opposite the British Open.
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