LA QUINTA, Calif. – Si Woo Kim began Sunday’s fifth round on the bubble to earn a PGA Tour card at Q-School, and on the minds of many officials at the circuit’s Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters.
Tour regulations don’t allow membership until a player is 18 and Kim, 17, doesn’t reach that threshold until June 28th, more than 75 percent of the way into the 2013 season.
Because of the condensed 2013 schedule Kim, who would be allowed 12 starts via sponsor exemptions as a non-member and could Monday qualify before his 18th birthday, would have roughly four to six starts after June 28 to retain his Tour card and qualify for the playoffs.
In a lengthy release on Sunday, officials pointed out that unlike the LPGA there is no provision for a player to petition for membership before their 18th birthday.
Any money earned before his 18th birthday would count toward his season total and beginning next year the Tour will start using a non-member FedEx Cup points list which means Kim could also accumulate points before turning 18.
Kim would, however, begin his rookie year at the bottom of the Q-School/Web.com Tour graduate class which would hamper his ability to get into fields and has prompted some to suggest that he request a hardship exemption for the 2013 season and defer his card until the circuit transitions to a split-calendar season in 2013-14.
Kim’s manager said the Korean-born player plans to play in the United States next year, either on the PGA or Web.com tours, but would consider such an exemption if it were available.