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PGA Tour takes big step toward qualifying change
SAN DIEGO (AP) - The PGA Tour is one step closer to eliminating Q-school as a path to earning a tour card, a significant overhaul that would include starting the official season in the fall instead of waiting for the next calendar year.
At the heart of the proposal is making the Nationwide Tour the primary means of getting to the big leagues.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem presented the basics of the plan Tuesday night during a mandatory players meeting at Torrey Pines ahead of the Farmers Insurance Open.
The biggest change involves Q-school. The plan is for the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour and the top 75 players who failed to keep their PGA Tour cards to play a three-tournament series. Players would be ranked based on how they fared on their respective money lists, and the top 50 after that series would earn cards.
The rest would have the option of going to Q-school, where only Nationwide Tour status would be available.
The proposal was not much different from what The Associated Press first reported in December. There were a few tweaks, and there might be more to come as tour officials get feedback over the next few weeks.
The 16-member Player Advisory Council plans to meet in three weeks at the Northern Trust Open. The earliest the overhaul could be approved by the policy board is in March, though it likely will be later.
Reaction predictably was mixed.
Dustin Johnson, who made it through Q-school on his first try out of college and has won in each of his four years on the PGA Tour, said on Twitter, “Just left the player meeting here in San Diego!!!! I don’t like any of the ideas about changing the tour!!! There is NO reason to!!!!!!!!!”
Rod Pampling, who had to rely on low status and sponsor exemptions to regain his card last year, said he needed more information before he could figure out why such a big change was needed.
“I guess they’re looking for a new direction, but I’m still on the fence,” Pampling said. “I understand both sides. We just need to get more information. We were told how last year was one of the greatest years on tour. So why are we reinventing the wheel? Obviously, it’s forward progress. But is this the right way? I don’t know.”
“But I quite liked the way the tour was before the FedEx Cup, and I actually like the tour better now with the FedEx Cup,” he said. “I thought it was ridiculous having the FedEx Cup, but now it happen, and I’m like, `This is pretty good.’ Every year it’s gotten better. So the tour hasn’t made that many missteps in the last 20 or 30 years.
“It’s probably going to end up the right thing to do.”
According to one manager involved in meetings, the tour said total compensation to PGA Tour players _ including items such as their pension plans _ was $205 million in 2010, which increased to $319 million in 2011. That figure is expected to be $377 million this year.
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