Bubble watch


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – For many the Children’s Miracle Network Classic is the end of a long, and often frustrating, road – a final attempt to secure a 2011 PGA Tour card or improve on existing status.

If the majors deliver drama, Disney – along with Q-School and the Nationwide Tour Championship – is reality TV at its best. The top 125 is the primary focus, but there will also be drama to see who finishes inside the top 150 in earnings, which will assure a player a spot at next month’s final stage of Q-School, as well as the top 30, which comes with a Masters invitation.

For the next four days GolfChannel.com will chronicle the best, and worst, of this year’s “bubble” races.

Top 125

Troy Matteson (125th) – Although he’s already exempt for 2011 via his victory at the 2009 Frys.com Open, his earnings ($723,328) are the current benchmark for a Tour card. Jimmy Walker finished 125th last year with $662,683.

Troy Merritt (121st) – The Boise State alum may be the player with the most to lose this week. He’s currently leading the $1 million Kodak Challenge by one stroke and is about $30,000 behind Matteson.

Richard S. Johnson (131st) – The Swede is the victim of the ultimate rub. The $51,000 he earned at last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions does not count toward his official earnings and he finds himself $44,813 outside the top 125. Johnson has been here before, however. He started the week at Disney last year 120th in earnings, finished T-60 and moved up a spot to 119th to finish the season.

Top 30

Heath Slocum (30th) – He arrived direct from China and the WGC-HSBC Champions on Monday and holds a $132 edge over No. 31 Ryan Moore, who is already qualified for next year’s Masters and is not in the field at Disney.

Top 150

Nicholas Thompson (150th ) – Although he’s signed up to play the second stage of Q-School next week if it comes to that, he’d rather remain inside the top 150 and avoid the rigors of golf’s most demanding, and capricious, test.