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Saturday, September 6, 2014

The New Twist to This Year's Finals

This week the second of the four Tour Finals, the Chiquita Classic, is being played in Davidson NC -- just north of Charlotte and only an hour or so southwest of where I live.

But if you want to know how the tournament is going, you can check in on GC's broadcasts this weekend. What I find most fascinating is the "small tweak" that was made to the Tour finals this year, and I bet many of you don't know about it.

In the photo below you see the Top25 from the regular season on the Tour, the guys who have already locked up a Tour card for next year.

The Top25 from the Tour season

However, many of you may remember that the graduating class from last year's regular season got shortchanged when the new PGA Tour season started. In the past, the fall season events got no FedExCup points so there were plenty of spots for the new guys to tee it up and get their feet wet on the big tour.

Not so last year. Tour graduates struggled to get spots since most of them were pretty far down the priority list and couldn't play, now that the "regular" Tour members were busy accruing FedExCup points.

Needless to say, this led to a bit of grumbling from the new kids on the block... and rightfully so, in my opinion. Having earned their cards from a full year on the Tour, they felt they had been shortchanged. And so, in an effort to correct the problem, the Tour's Policy Board decided to make a few changes. You can read about them here and also here, but I'd like to focus on the grandaddy of them all. As the faqs page puts it:
What happens to the Regular Season money list?
New this year, players from the Tour will carry their money into the Finals, and will be placed in the priority ranking based off their combined money from the Regular Season and Finals.
This becomes very important because (this is from the page defining the new structure):
While the Top-25 players from the Tour Regular Season will earn their PGA TOUR cards, their order of priority won’t be determined until the conclusion of the Tour Finals. They will now carry their earnings into the Finals and priority will be established on the combination of Regular Season and Finals earnings.
Do you understand what that means? The players, the ones who worked so hard all season, are going to end up with the highest priorities among the 50 awarded cards. Last year after all four events, Trevor Immelman -- trying to regain his Tour card by playing in only the 4 Finals events -- ranked 23rd with $180,000 and Seung-Yul Noh ranked 19th with $210,125 after only 3 events. Each guy won an event, but they actually got ranked higher than some of the guys who played all year and won multiple events.

And John Peterson got the top seed for the 4 events with $230,000 but without a win at all.

Fast forward to this year. After ONE Finals event, Bud Cauley's win last week got him to #22 with $184,460 (he had $4,460 from a previous event this season). The $230,000 that won the top spot after 4 Finals events last year is only good enough for the 14th spot after ONE event this year! If you didn't play events on the Tour this season, you're going to have to win A LOT during the Finals to get one of the top cards.

That's going to make it easier for the Tour players to get playing time in 2015. And it's going to make it much harder for those PGA Tour guys who lost their cards to get them back.

You might want to read those two pages about the new Finals rules. It's going to make things much more interesting over the next 3 weeks!

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