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Notes: Fall Series gets upgraded

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BETHESDA, Md. - Starting next year, Fall Series tournaments won't feel like second-class citizens.

The PGA Tour policy board has decided to award full FedEx Cup points to the tournaments that come after the season-ending Tour Championship. That was one step in trying to shore up plans for a new season that will start in October 2013 and conclude with the Tour Championship in September 2014.

''With the fall tournaments moving to the front end of the PGA Tour schedule, the policy board believes the next logical step is for these tournaments to kick off the FedEx Cup and begin awarding full points,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''All of these tournaments have been very successful and certainly deserve to be part of the FedEx Cup competition.''

For the past five years, the FedEx Cup has ended in September with the Tour Championship. The Fall Series events that followed only awarded prize money to determine the top 125 players on the money list who kept their full cards.

All that changes in 2013 with a fall start to the season.

Still to be decided is a major part of the puzzle - determining how players get their cards.

Instead of Q-school, the tour already has approved a plan to merge the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour with PGA Tour players who finish from No. 126-200 on the money list for a three-tournament series. Fifty full tour cards will be awarded.

Tour officials have been retooling various options, though no consensus has been reached on a model.

Three options were reviewed at the Monday board meeting, and Finchem said his staff will get further feedback from the Player Advisory Councils on the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour before deciding on the best model. A decision could be sooner that some might expect.


YEAR OF THE COMEBACK: No lead appears safe on the PGA Tour this year, particularly if the leader is going for his first win. Marc Leishman, who closed with a 62 at the Travelers Championship, became the fifth player to come from at least six shots behind on the last day to win.

The trend began in January when Brandt Snedeker came from seven shots back with a 67 to win a playoff over Kyle Stanley, who made triple bogey on his last hole for 74. A week later, Stanley rallied from eight shots behind with a 65 to beat fast-fading Spencer Levin.

John Huh came from seven shots back in Mexico with a 63 and won in a playoff over Robert Allenby. The 54-hole leader, Daniel Summerhays, closed with a 73. The other comeback winner was Phil Mickelson, who was six behind Charlie Wi and closed with a 64 at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

In each case, the 54-hole leaders had never won on the PGA Tour. Last week in Cromwell, Conn., the 54-hole leaders were Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis, neither of whom has won on tour.

The last 54-hole leader to hold on for the win was Jason Dufner at the Byron Nelson Championship on May 20.


DOWN UNDER, ALL OVER: Considering the number of good players coming from Down Under, Geoff Ogilvy is the only Australian since 1995 to win a major.

Aussie icon Greg Norman, who won two majors, is puzzled by the lack of majors. Then again, it's not just Australia.

Sweden has never produced a male major champion. The last Englishman to win a major was Nick Faldo in 1996. Spain's last major was more than a decade ago.

''The simple answer to that is no, it's not an acceptable strike rate considering the talent and the capabilities of the Australian players we have out there,'' Norman said in a conference call last week. ''There's a slew of them. But you can look at other countries, too, that haven't really done it. Sweden, you probably have more players on a global basis of that caliber than any outside of the United States, and they haven't done it. Then you look at Northern Ireland where you have back-to-back years with two guys.

''Why does it happen? Why the void? I have no answer because it doesn't make sense to me, because the players are good enough to do it on a regular basis,'' he said. ''But when you think about it, you've got all these great players around the world and there's only four golf tournaments per year. So there's only going to be four winners. You can see the odds are getting harder and harder.''


DIVOTS: Alan Dunbar is the latest player from Northern Ireland to capture a big prize. The 23-year-old from Portrush won the British Amateur over the weekend at Royal Troon. He follows Graeme McDowell winning the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Rory McIlroy winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and Darren Clarke winning the 2011 British Open at Royal St. George's. Dunbar's win gets him into the British Open, Masters and U.S. Open. ... Six-time major champion Nick Faldo has been selected to receive the 2012 Ambassador of Golf Award, given to a person who has contributed to golf on an international level. The award is presented by the Northern Ohio Golf Charities and will be given to Faldo at Firestone during the Bridgestone Invitational. ... Bubba Watson leads the PGA Tour in driving distance and greens in regulation. Since the tour began keeping track of these statistics in 1980, no one has led both categories in the same season. ... The winner of the money list on the new PGA Tour Latinoamerica will be recognized with the Roberto de Vicenzo Award, named for the first Argentine to win a major.


STAT OF THE WEEK: The winner of the past three tournaments at Congressional had scores of 268 (Rory McIlroy), 267 (Tiger Woods) and 268 (Anthony Kim).


FINAL WORD: ''It's getting harder and harder for him to win because the older he gets, the younger everybody else gets. And the younger they get, the less intimidated they are by him.'' - Greg Norman on Tiger Woods.