More questions than answers for road to Tour


The proposed plan unveiled by the PGA Tour on Tuesday night to reconfigure the path to a PGA Tour card is still subject to further adjustment on several points.

The Tour shared its vision for making the Nationwide Tour the sole path to PGA Tour status, leaving Q-school to decide status only on the Nationwide Tour for the next season. The Tour would convene a three-tournament series with the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour money list and the first 75 players that fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. At the end of the series, the top 50 players on the reconfigured money list would gain PGA Tour cards.

The series would conceivably take place concurrently with the PGA Tour playoffs, with the conclusion of both immediately leading into the 2014 season in October 2013.

The participants would be seeded based upon their place on their respective money lists, but how that order will be determined remains unclear. One report suggests the top 25 earners on the Nationwide Tour would get the first 25 seeds, with another suggesting No. 1 on the Nationwide Tour money list and No. 126 in FedEx Cup points would share the same starting point.

The 150 professionals, however, would not necessarily comprise the entire field. The Tour said top amateurs and collegians could be invited to participate on the basis of their hypothetical earnings in starts on the PGA and Nationwide Tours. If an amateur earned enough to crack the top 200 on the PGA Tour money list or the top 75 on the Nationwide Tour order of merit, they could get through to the series.

It is unclear if an amateur would have to turn pro to compete in the series or if they could try to earn PGA Tour status without turning pro, similar to what Peter Uihlein tried this year.

A Nationwide Tour official also said it is not certain if an amateur – like LSU product John Peterson – who turns pro during the season can blend the hypothetical money earned as an amateur with the dollars raked in after they turned pro to determine their place in the series. Peterson finished runner-up in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational, turning pro in September and finishing T-23 in his professional debut on the Nationwide Tour.

One source indicated the Tour could even consider creating a status category for high amateurs, although the weight that status would hold and how it would be determined is contentious.

Many details of the plan remain unclear, including the possibility of opening more avenues to Nationwide Tour starts and status for nonmembers, such as through an increase in tournament spots offered through Monday qualifying.

“We're looking at every available option to make the system is fair and better and to get the best players to the PGA Tour,” said Nationwide Tour official Jeff Adams in an email.

With all of the logistics worked out, the final framework will be presented to the PGA Tour Policy Board in March for a vote.