Pros Tell Tales of Two Bubbles


PGA Tour (75x100)HOUSTON -- Per-Ulrik Johansson was No. 125 on the money list when he missed the cut at Innisbrook and thus failed to keep his PGA Tour card.
Johansson at least gets a free pass to the final stage of Q-School. If that doesn't work, he can expect to get into at least 20 tournaments next year that have to dip into the pool of 126-150 on the money list to fill their fields.
The greater pain might have been for Chris Anderson. He was No. 150 on the money list and missed the cut by one stroke. By finishing out of the top 150, he has no status at all.
Which is the bigger bubble - top 125 or top 150?
'Oh, no question, it's 150,' said Jay Williamson, who has experienced both bubbles. 'Because if you're out of the 150, you've got to head to second stage next week. And that's brutal.'
A year ago, Williamson tied for fifth in the final event and wound up 125th on the money list to knock out David Frost.
Still, Frost managed to play 26 times this year. He finished in the top 125 to get his card.
'It's to the point now where a number doesn't matter,' Williamson said. 'It's playing good when you get the opportunities. And if you get 20 opportunities, you should be able to play good a couple of times.'
Ten of the 16 players who finished between 126 and 150 on the money list last year played in at least 20 events. Five of them finished in the top 125, while Peter Jacobsen and Tommy Armour III won.
Even so, there is a huge advantage to getting into the top 125.
For starters, players can set their own schedules instead of having to show up each week and hope enough people withdraw so they can get in.
'The 150 status, you can get in several events,' Briny Baird said. 'But they all come in bunches in the middle of the summer, when it's hot as can be. You want to play seven in a row in the middle of summer?'
Baird also said those in the top 125 have a better chance to get sponsorship deals, no matter how small, because of the guaranteed schedule.
The 31-man field at the Tour Championship offers a snapshot of what kind of year it has been on the PGA Tour.
Because so many top players have won multiple times this year, the Tour Championship might have a larger field than Kapalua to start the next season. Only 30 players have qualified for the winners-only Mercedes Championships.
Of course, the Maui field could get an extra player because 15 players who finished in the top 30 on the money list have not won this year.
The Tour Championship has an extra player because Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland is a temporary member. While his earnings don't appear on the official money, they were equivalent to top-30 money.
Adam Scott had a chance to make it 32 players at Champions, but he elected to stay in Europe last week and play the Volvo Masters instead of going to Tampa for a chance to crack the PGA Tour top 30.
DIVOTS: Prairie Dunes in Hutchinson, Kan., where Juli Inkster won a U.S. Women's Amateur and a U.S. Women's Open, has been selected to host the 2006 U.S. Senior Open. ... Jose Coceres is expecting big things from fellow Argentine Eduardo Romero when he turns 50 and joins the Champions Tour. 'I want to be his manager,' said Coceres, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour. 'Easy money.' ... Of the 29 rookies on the LPGA Tour next year, only 12 of them are from the United States. ... Retief Goosen is 10-6 when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead in Europe or on the PGA Tour. He has never finished worse than fourth from that position.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Justin Leonard and Tiger Woods are the only players to have qualified for the Tour Championship every year since they started playing a full PGA Tour schedule.
FINAL WORD: 'The one thing it will never measure is where your head was over the shot.' - Brad Faxon on Shotlink.
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