MEDINAH, Ill. – Former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer will be allowed to retain conditional PGA Tour membership for the 2019-20 season despite falling short of the Tour’s requirement that a player make at least 15 starts in a season.
Kaymer has won two majors and The Players, but his five-year exemption for winning the 2014 U.S. Open expired when he missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship earlier this month. The German teed it up only 14 times on Tour this season and finished No. 150 on the points list, a position that would normally merit conditional membership that goes to Nos. 126-150 on the final standings. But because he came up one start short, his case went to the Tour’s competitions committee and ultimately the office of commissioner Jay Monahan.
At issue was The Open at Royal Portrush, where Kaymer was first alternate to begin tournament week but never got into the field. According to a Tour official, Kaymer was planning to play the Barbasol Championship in Kentucky that week but instead flew to Northern Ireland in hopes of a tee time that never materialized.
Had he played the Barbasol, Kaymer would have met the 15-event threshold and avoided any membership snafu. The Tour ultimately sided with Kaymer, noting the unique logistical issues surrounding travel to and from The Open, and now considers him a “member in good standing” for next season despite missing the 15-start mark.
Kaymer’s conditional status would rank just below the graduates from the upcoming Korn Ferry Finals and usually nets players in the range of 15-18 starts in a season.
This is the second time that Kaymer, 34, has run afoul of the Tour’s 15-start obligation. He made only 12 starts during the 2015-16 season and was forced to sit out the following season as a non-member, but his five-year exemption from Pinehurst allowed him to automatically return to fully-exempt status in 2017. He had no such luxury this time and was potentially facing an uphill climb to regain status for 2020-21.
Kaymer is not in the field this week at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the first of three Finals events. But according to the Tour he is eligible for Finals and could theoretically add his name to upcoming stops in Boise and Evansville, Ind., where he could vie for one of 25 PGA Tour cards being offered to top earners across the three-event series.