Questions abound about new qualifying structure

By Rex HoggardJuly 11, 2012, 4:33 pm

Give the PGA Tour style points for brevity, if not ambiguity. In some 400 words the circuit outlined the most dramatic shakeup to its qualifying process since professional golf emerged from the “rabbit tour” days.

Tuesday’s release outlining the dramatically reconfigured Web.com Tour/Q-School process was vague by design. In broad strokes the secondary circuit will maintain a level of regular-season relevancy, awarding 25 Tour cards to its top money earners, while creating a season-ending “finals series” that appears to be more than a nip/tucked version of Q-School.

By most accounts the Tour and its Policy Board slow played themselves into a winning plan without breaking any major china with players or fans, but to gloss over commissioner Tim Finchem’s “new deal” in a 400-word Cliff’s Notes version ignores how much energy and emotion actually went into the new qualifying system.

Earlier this month at the AT&T National four-time Policy Board member Davis Love III called the plan the most difficult thing he’d ever did as a player director and one official could only laugh when asked if he thought it would have taken so long to reach a consensus, “No way,” the official smiled.

Two-years of debate, endless models and an assortment of scenarios led to Tuesday’s announcement and a late-to-the-dance plan that ultimately merged variations of different options.

“This (plan) came up very recently,” said Paul Goydos, who is serving his first term on the Policy Board. “It was kind of a byproduct of the NASCAR (model). The first thing that went away was the seeding (model). It’s too hard to compare play on different tours.”

The “NASCAR” plan included the top money winners on the Web.com Tour playing the three-event finals series although they had already secured their status for the following season; while the seeding model would have attempted to marry the PGA Tour and Web.com Tour money lists for the final three tournaments.

“No way that people would agree on (a seeding model),” Goydos said. “Under that type of scenario No. 126 (in PGA Tour earnings) was basically going to get the same money as No. 26 on the Web.com Tour. But that means my seeding was going to be impacted by how I played and how someone on another tour played. It was going to be difficult to accept that another player who was playing (on another tour) was going to decide where you were going to be seeded.”

Which led to the NASCAR model and a debate over how many players from the secondary circuit should be awarded Tour cards based on regular-season performance.

“What number on the Web.com Tour should be guaranteed cards? It bounced between 15 and 25,” Goydos said. “The idea was that under the old system a player ranked between 18th and 19th on the Web.com Tour money list with three tournaments remaining was virtually assured of finishing inside the top 25 and earning a card.”

If the Tour lowered the number of guaranteed cards after the regular season on the secondary circuit, “we would be admitting that (the Web.com Tour) was not as strong as we thought it was when I would argue that it’s getting stronger every year,” Goydos said.

The four player directors (Love, Goydos, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk) ultimately settled on the top 25 players earning Tour cards and a “jump ball” model for the finals series which featured Nos. 1-75 on the secondary circuit and Nos. 126-200 on the FedEx Cup points list playing the last three events for the final 25 Tour cards.

Although guaranteed a card the top 25 players from the Web.com Tour could hurt their status for the following year with a poor performance in the final series, which in theory gives the secondary circuit’s big finish an added level of drama while maintaining the integrity of the regular season.

Confused?

You’re not alone.

“To me, at first, I thought it was very confusing, but when they showed it in chart form on a money list it is better visually,” Goydos said.

The Tour’s abridged release also left an assortment of unanswered questions. Why, for example, would the winner of the Web.com Tour’s money list, who will be awarded full Tour membership for the following season, play the finals series?

“He doesn’t have to,” Goydos said. “The sponsor would probably like to have him in there playing.”

It also remains to be seen where and when the finals series will be played. Because of cross-over between the two tours officials expect field sizes between 135 and 140 players and all three events will feature 36-hole cuts to the top 60 players and ties.

Under the current scenario but still undecided, the first finals series event would be played opposite the BMW Championship, the third FedEx Cup playoff event which is followed by an off-week. The second finals event would be played during that off-week and the qualifying finale would be held the week after the Tour Championship at East Lake.

All three finals series events would be Web.com Tour tournaments and there appears to be an undercurrent of support for a geographic rotation across the country.

But the essential question is how this change will impact a particular player’s ability to earn Tour status. Would a player fresh out of college, like Patrick Cantlay who recently turned pro after his sophomore season at UCLA, have the same chance to play his way onto the Tour without the benefit of Q-School?

“It’s going to be easier for a Patrick Cantlay to earn a card, it’s going to be harder for a Paul Goydos when he first came out on Tour because I would not have gotten the sponsor exemptions,” Goydos said.

Maybe it’s best the Tour opted for brevity to unveil its new qualifying plan – which, by most accounts, deftly bridges the gap between old and new – because the only thing detailed analysis creates is more questions that won’t be answered for at least another year.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.