HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – The proposal to realign the Nationwide Tour and the PGA Tour’s Qualifying School Tournament was presented in detail Wednesday afternoon at Harbour Town to a curious audience – the 16-member Player Advisory Council.
“Generally speaking, feedback has been mixed,” said Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief of operations prior to the meeting. “A lot of it is the questions that haven’t been answered.”
The questions that were answered during the 2 hour, 20 minute meeting, however, seem to be very much a work-in-progress. If reaction has been mixed so far, player response after the meeting indicates the final product will be something different than what was presented.
The proposal would make almost all access to the PGA Tour through the Nationwide Tour and relegate Q-School to a feeder system for the secondary circuit. The top 50 or 75 players after the Nationwide Tour’s regular season and Nos. 126 to 175 or 200 off the PGA Tour money list would advance to a three-event “Finals Series.” Following the last “Finals Series” event, probably the Nationwide Tour Championship, the top 50 would earn PGA Tour cards.
“From what I’m hearing from the Tour it’s mainly positive (feedback),” Jim Furyk said. “But I heard some negative comments, and I have some negative comments. Overall I think I was the most negative guy in there.”
The Tour’s Policy Board has given preliminary approval to the proposal, but must vote on it again before it is finalized.
“The guys that don’t like it seem to come down to two questions: Q-School (no Tour cards available) and why are we changing?” Pazder said.
Having no access to the PGA Tour via Q-School is the primary point of concern, particularly for a veteran player who had an “off” year.
“My job is to represent what the players feel and what I’m hearing is that there needs to be a safety net,” said Paul Goydos, one of four player directors on the Policy Board.
Another concern with the proposal is that it could limit the access to a Tour card for young players straight out of college. For example, had this policy been around two years ago Rickie Fowler may have had to play 2010 on the Nationwide Tour. Instead, the colorful American advanced to the third round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and played solidly for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“It could determine when guys turn pro,” Goydos said. “It depends on what’s important to them. If they want to play NCAAs and the Walker Cup they’d have to decide.”
The presentation that was shown to the PAC on Wednesday at Harbour Town will be presented at a players meeting next Tuesday at the Zurich Classic.