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PGA Tour vets dig deep to find exemptions in 2010

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Kapalua and the season-opening SBS Championship are the closest thing golf has to spring training, with a handful of players easing into the new year amid the subtle buzz of a new season.

One of the quirky, insider ways to get a handle on the new year is the “All-exempt priority rankings,” which lists all players who are qualified to play the Tour in 2010 and what category (former champion, top 125 in earnings, etc.) they are playing under.

Among some of the “all-exempt” items of note for 2010 is Tom Lehman’s use of a one-time exemption for being in the top 50 in career earnings. Jesper Parnevik (46th in career earnings) and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin (48th) will also play out of that category, while Stuart Appleby – who finished outside the top 60 in earnings (137th) for the first time since 1996 – used his one-time exemption for being in the top 25 in career cash.

The most surreal entry, however, is that of David Duval, who will play out of a category reserved for players who finished between 126th to 150th in earnings last year. It is the 27th of 33 categories for exemption, which is as telling a measurement of Duval’s professional freefall as one will find.

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