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Proposed system could lead to amateurs turning pro early

PGA Tour
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MOBILE, AL - NOVEMBER 10: Ben Barry of Tuscaloosa carries a stuffed Pink Panther on his shoulders as he follows Paula Creamer through her third round play in The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions at Magnolia Grove Golf Course on November 10, 2007 in Mobile, Alabama. Creamer is nicknamed the Pink Panther. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)  - 

The proposed new path to the PGA Tour could be a last-ditch effort for top collegiate and amateur players looking to earn their playing privileges out the professional gates.

“There are three final events for Nationwide Tour players, PGA Tour players and some other players to be determined – top amateurs or collegians – something like that. They’ll come together and finish the season in the finals,” said Nationwide Tour president Bill Calfee on Tuesday at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

In two weeks, at the Farmers Insurance Open, the PGA Tour presents its final proposal for a three-event series which would eliminate Q-School as a path to a PGA Tour card. The field for the series would consist of the top 75 players on the Nationwide Tour money list and the first 75 PGA Tour players who fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. The field would be seeded based upon earnings on their respective tours and players would then earn points based upon their results in the series. The top 50 finishers in the series would earn PGA Tour cards for the following season.

The series would begin in 2013. Q-School would only offer privileges on the Nationwide Tour.

The offer to participate extended to amateurs and collegiate players, however, would not be an exemption into the series. Rather, it would be an invitation to turn pro.

Once pro, the players could exhaust their seven sponsor’s exemptions ahead of the trio of events. Like Bud Cauley, they could earn enough money to become full-fledged PGA Tour members for next season. If they come up short, however, they may earn enough money as non-members to join the fray for the cards to be doled out by the series.

Tour officials recognize the potential for collegiate players to test the professional waters earlier than they otherwise might, looking to maximize their chances at avoiding time on the Nationwide Tour.

'I could see players turning pro earlier to try to get in their sponsor exemptions,' Calfee said in an interview last June. 'We are not encouraging players to turn pro sooner, but that could happen. They'll have to weigh their options and decide what's best for them.'