DUBLIN, Ohio – When the PGA Tour announced plans to dramatically overhaul its qualifying system in 2013 the concern among many observers was how the new format would impact up-and-coming players fresh out of college.
In 2013, Jordan Spieth sidestepped the entire process, earning his Tour card, winning an event and landing a trip to the Tour Championship; but most newly minted professionals won’t have that luxury which makes Patrick Rodgers’ plan worth studying.
Rodgers, who received the Jack Nicklaus Award early Sunday at the Memorial Tournament from the 18-time major winner, plans to focus on the PGA Tour, instead of the Web.com Tour, with an eye toward this year’s four-event qualifying Finals which replaced Q-School last year.
“My goal has been to basically maximize my window of opportunity to qualify for the Tour,” Rodgers said. “I know it's going to be difficult. But I also thought it was really important to finish school this year and be there for my team.”
The junior at Stanford, who tied Tiger Woods’ school record with 11 college victories, has sponsor exemptions into the Travelers Championship and the John Deere Classic, where he tied for 15th last summer as an amateur.
His manager at Wasserman Golf is also confident he can secure more exemptions and if Rodgers were to win the Fred Haskins Award in a few weeks he would also earn an exemption into next month’s Greenbrier Classic.
As a non-member, Rodgers is limited to seven starts to earn enough FedEx Cup points to secure a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals (he must finish in the top 200 on Tour) or special temporary status that would allow him an unlimited number of starts.
The other avenue he could have taken is to play the Web.com Tour in an attempt to finish inside the top 75 on that money list, which would also qualify him for this fall’s Finals. According to his manager, he will sign up to play the Web.com Tour Q-School just to be safe.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to play like Spieth did last year and avoid the complicated qualifying process altogether.
“Hopefully I play well and all goes well and I play great and that's my avenue to the Tour,” he said. “But I know that there are very few people that have done that. Quite simply, it’s not that easy.”