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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Prepare to Meet THE 25

I admit that I probably don't spend as much time blogging about the Tour as I should. After all, even though we focus on players who get their Tour cards capitalizing on sponsor exemptions or working their way through the European Tour, the Tour remains the primary route to the PGA Tour. It's where most Tour hopefuls cut their teeth learning the ropes of Tour life... and the place to which most players who fail to keep their Tour cards return.

This week we learn the identity of THE 25, the players who by virtue of their play for an entire season on the Tour have earned the first 25 Tour cards to be awarded this season.

The guy in the photo below? That's Patton Kizzire and, if I've done my math correctly, there's absolutely NO WAY that he won't be the winner of the first Golden Ticket, the fully-exempt card awarded to the Tour Money List Leader for the season. (The other Golden Ticket goes to the winner of the Playoffs, the 4-event series that begins the second full week in September.)

Patton Kizzire

This week's event, the WinCo Foods Portland Open, WILL determine the other 24 players to lock up their Tour cards. (Although I'm not sure how they'll handle #23, Patrick Rodgers. Rodgers locked up a Tour card by his play on the PGA Tour this year.) With something like $145k going to the winner of this event, almost anybody in the field has a chance to make THE 25, although a number of the players near the top of the list are safe.

Some of the names currently in THE 25 will probably be familiar to you.
  • Martin Piller, #2 on the list, is LPGA player Gerina Piller's husband. He's been on the Big Tour before, and two wins this season (plus his outstanding play in the other events) guarantee him enough dough for a 2016 card.
  • Dawie van der Walt, the South African at #3, has played a few events on the Big Tour before but has spent most of the last five years on the Tour... but not next year!
  • Jamie Lovemark, #13, is a two-time REMAX Long Drive Champion and has been on and off the Big Tour for a few years, mainly due to struggles with injuries.
  • Steve Marino, #14, had to return to the Tour this year to regain his Tour card.
  • Rod Pampling, #18, has been splitting his time between the two tours in an effort to regain his Tour card. A good showing this week could lock it up for him.
And of course there are a number of up-and-comers you may not know yet but soon will -- players like Si Woo Kim who, at #7, will probably make it to the PGA Tour for the first time. This was a breakthrough season for him and it should be fun to see how he does full-time playing against the big boys.

If you want a quick update of the impending drama, you can check this post at concerning the major storylines this week and this post will give you more info on the bubble boys.

Coverage begins today on GC at 6pm ET and, given that the WinCo is being held on the Witch Hollow course at Pumpkin Ridge GC in Oregon -- site of two US Women's Opens, a US Amateur and a US Women's Amateur, btw -- the telecast will probably be live. If the FedExCup Playoffs aren't dramatic enough for you, you'll be hard-pressed to beat the finale this week!

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