The Order of Opportunity Part 1
Congratulations, Nationwide Tour/Q-School graduate! You are a member of the PGA Tour. Millions of dollars are there for the taking, and the opportunities are as limitless as your imagination.
Or are they?
I was under that impression when I got through Q-School, right out of college ' you know, you just kind of play whenever, said Bo Van Pelt.
'I found out quickly thats not the case at all.
Van Pelt, now in his third full season on the PGA Tour, is a learned man in the way the tour fills a field.
The tour has its own Priority Rankings system. Players earn a position on that ranking, and where they place determines their likelihood of getting into tournaments.
There are 34 categories in all. Categories range from select tournament winners to those receiving medical extensions to veteran members -- and everything else in between.
PGA Tour's All-Exempt Priority Rankings; Categories 1-34
We just basically go down that list, draw a line when we reach field capacity, and the rest are alternates, said Andy Pazder, director of administration/communication for the PGA Tour.
And often that line is drawn inside of Category 25, which consists of the most recent Nationwide Tour and Qualifying Tournament graduates.
Not Open to All
There are two types of tournaments on the PGA Tour: Opens and Invitationals. In an open,' as Pazder said, the tour determines the field based solely on their Priority Ranking.
For an invitational,' there are different criteria ' differing event to event. Invitationals include the four majors (even though two of them are called an 'open' due to their qualifying process), the three World Golf Championship events, and tournaments like Bay Hill; the MCI Heritage; Memorial; Colonial and the International.
In determining the difference between an open and an invitational take, for example, Bay Hill.
Players eligible for the Bay Hill Invitational include, among others: past tournament champions; the top 50 players from the Official World Golf Ranking through this week's Ford Championship; 18 sponsors exemptions (as opposed to the maximum of eight in an open event); the top 70 players from the seasonal money list through the Ford Championship.
In other words, invitational tournaments have more control as to who is in their field.
For those players in Category 25 ' which this year numbers at 58 ' their best opportunities to compete are in open events.
But, just because these fortunate cap-and-gown grads have full exempt status in the Big Show, that doesnt mean they are always guaranteed an opportunity to display their talents on stage.
Players in the top 20 categories will almost always get into an open field. However, there may not be enough spots remaining to satisfy all of those Q-School and Nationwide Tour graduates.
Van Pelt, who finished fifth on the 2003 Nationwide Tour money list, started his season by playing in the Sony Open and Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He had to Monday qualify to compete in the FBR Open.
The FBR Open is an open event, but, according to Pazder, We have a lower number at Phoenix due to limited daylight and frost delays in the mornings; we can only accommodate 132 (players).
Certain situations ' given time of year and location ' we can play anywhere from 132 to 180.
Pazder says that outside of Daylight Savings Time, the standard field size is 144. During the summer months, or during DST, it is 156.
Obviously, the greater the limitation on admittance the less likely those players inside Category 25 are to gain entry.
At the FBR Open, Van Pelt was the only Nationwide Tour or Q-School graduate to compete ' and only because he Monday qualified. Zach Johnson, who due to topping last years Nationwide Tour money list is in the more desirable Category 23, was even forced to sit out as an alternate.
This weeks Ford Championship has 144 players in the field. Twenty-nine of the 58 Category 25 players were on the orginal commitment list -- prior to the start of the week. The only player eligible to compete who declined was Tjaart Van der Walt. His absence opened the door for D.J. Brigman, who would have been first alternate -- instead he temporarily became No. 144.
First alternate would have been Hunter Mahan, who was ranked 30th inside of Category 25.
'Would have,' being the operative tense.
The stop at Doral serves as a second beginning to the season: It is the first week following the first reshuffle among the Category 25 members.
Read Part 2 Wednesday, which explains the reshuffling process.
Romo turns in even in PGA Tour debut
After stumbling out of the gates, Tony Romo has found his footing in his PGA Tour debut.
Playing in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship on a sponsor exemption, Romo shot an even-par 36 for his opening nine holes in the Dominican Republic. The former NFL quarterback bogeyed his first two holes, but steadied the ship with three birdies from Nos. 4-8 while playing alongside Dru Love and Denny McCarthy.
The early highlight of the round came at the par-4 fifth hole, where Romo drained a putt from across the green for his second straight birdie:
Romo has played as an amateur partner in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and has played individually in U.S. Open local qualifiers and mini-tour events as an amateur. But this marks his first attempt to gauge his game against the best players in the world who are not in Austin for the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
Romo, who plays to a plus-0.3 handicap, said earlier in the week that he expected some jitters once it came time to put a tee in the ground.
"You'll be nervous on Thursday on the first tee. Just going to be," Romo said. "I've got to get through the first three or four holes. If I can handle the nerves on the first three or four holes, I think that I'll settle in and hopefully just play the way I've been playing."
Click here to watch live first-round action on Golf Channel.
Kim's missing clubs show up at sporting goods store
More than a month after they were lost on an American Airlines flight, the clubs I.K. Kim used to win last year's Ricoh Women's British Open turned up on the sale rack of a California sporting goods store.
Kim's clubs became lost in late January when she flew from Miami to San Diego, with the airline suggesting she simply rent a new set. A few weeks later, Kim shot a "What's in the bag" television segment which according to a Golfweek report caught the eye of three good samaritans in the San Diego area.
The three men recognized Kim's clubs for sale at a local Play It Again Sports, with the major winner's tools listed at $60 each. The store even had Kim's tour bag, complete with her LPGA player badge. Kim filmed the reunion with her bag - containing wedges and a few hybrids, minus the head covers - at the Carlsbad police station:
What’s in my bag now?! They were selling at Play it again ... only $60 each in San Diego. Jack, Jeff, Paul watched my video with @alisonwhitaker1 in Singapore and found my remaining clubs and brought it back to me @lpga_tour this week at Aviara!! Btw... Where is the head covers? They might sell separately?Never mind.
Kim was back in southern California this week for the Kia Classic, where she'll begin play Thursday morning at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad.
WGC-Dell Match Play: Scoring, live stream, standings
New dad Garcia removes shoes, wins match
AUSTIN, Texas – In one of the day’s most explosive matches, Sergio Garcia rolled in an 8-footer for birdie at the 18th hole to defeat Shubhankar Sharma, 1 up, at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.
The duo halved just nine holes on Day 1 at Austin Country Club, with Garcia going from 2 up through four holes to 1 down with five holes to play.
But the Spaniard rallied with five birdies over his final eight holes and pushed his record to 20-17-1 in the Match Play. He also gave himself his best chance to advance out of pool play since the format began in 2015.
The victory continued what has already been a memorable week for Garcia, whose wife, Angela, gave birth to the couple’s first child last Wednesday.
“I already feel like I’m a winner after what happened on Wednesday,” Garcia said. “Obviously, it's something that we're so, so happy and proud of and enjoying it as much as possible.”
The highlight of Garcia’s round on Wednesday came at the 12th hole when he took a drop on a cart path. After considering his options, he removed his shoes and hit his approach from 212 yards to 29 feet for a two-putt birdie to halve the hole.
“I have spikes. So if I don't take my shoes off, I'm going to slip. It's not the kind of shot that you want to slip,” Garcia said. “I had tried it a couple of times on practice swings and I was already slipping a little bit. So I thought I would just take my shoes off, try to get a little bit in front of the hole and it came out great.”