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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Last Huh-rah?

It's shaping up to be the big story over the next few weeks. No, not the one about Donald Trump buying Doral, home of the next WGC.

As you probably know, the PGA Tour is planning to do away with Q-School. Geoff Shackelford has done a couple of posts about it, here and here (that last one has several links, some tongue-in-cheek, in case you're interested).

John Huh hoists his first PGA trophyHere's the quick summary: The Tour needs a new sponsor for what is currently the Nationwide Tour. (I believe Nationwide intends to become the sponsor of one of the Tour's regular events. Seems that I heard that somewhere.) Anyway, to make the Nationwide Tour as well as the FedExCup more attractive, the Tour plans to make its junior tour the primary -- maybe only -- way to get a Tour card. Coupled with the plan to start the new Tour season in October -- the European Tour is already pretty much a year-round affair -- Q-School will probably end up dead and buried.

And that means no more stories like John Huh, who went through all three stages of Q-School last year and won his first PGA event at Mayakoba this weekend after only 5 Tour starts... and 8 playoff holes. There will be no "shortcuts" to the PGA Tour; everybody will have to go through the Nationwide Tour.

Well, that's not quite right. I suppose you could Monday qualify for a tournament and then win it to go straight to the PGA Tour... or you could go through all the qualifying stages for the U.S. Open or Open Championship and then win it. At the very least you'd have to finish in the top 10 that week so you would be qualified for the next week's tournament and try to earn enough money that way. Only the most favored players could ever go the sponsor's exemptions route.

Given the number of Q-School grads making a splash on Tour lately -- Huh and Rickie Fowler come to mind -- it seems strange to me that the Tour would want to eliminate the possibility of Cinderella stories like this. You'd think sponsors would want this kind of story to happen, given how favorably Americans -- and just about everybody else, for that matter -- react to people who succeed against the odds.

I have mixed emotions about this. I understand that business is business. But somewhere along the line, a pursuit of business concerns at the expense of opportunity is counter-productive. What hidden cost is going to rear its head a few years -- or even just months -- down the road? What effect might these choices have on the development of a future generation of PGA golfers?

I don't have any answers but I'm pretty sure of one thing: You should enjoy John Huh's story while you can. I'm afraid that, instead of a "happily ever after," this decision could result in a lot of unharvested pumpkins left to rot in the fields.

The photo comes from a Washington Post article referenced in the second Shackelford post.

1 comment:

  1. Did you see rookie John Huh win the Mayakoba Golf Classic on the eighth hole of the playoff! Amazing! Check out the interviews and final round wrap-up video here: