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Tour working on program to provide access for college stars

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The PGA Tour might soon have a new feeder system – college golf.

A spokesman confirmed that the Tour is working to develop a new program that will identify, prepare and transition top college players to the professional ranks. News of the new venture was first reported by Golfweek, which cited an unnamed Tour official.

“This program will be designed to reward season-long collegiate play with varying levels of playing access to tours operated under the PGA Tour umbrella while upholding the principles and virtues of college athletics,” the Tour said in a statement to GolfChannel.com.

The Tour is already working with its players, policy board members and various other stakeholders, including the NCAA, to develop the new system.

It’s unknown when the program will be implemented, but it does not appear to be imminent. There are a number of issues to work through, most notably how the Tour will measure and prioritize season-long performance for top-ranked players who don’t play the same schedule. Golfweek reported that the new priority system will be “far more dynamic” than simply using the Golfstat rankings, for example, to dole out tour cards. The program, Golfweek reported, will incentivize players to stay in school, but it remains to be seen what access to the tours, if any, an elite underclassman will have if he wants to make the jump early.

The draft-like program comes after the women’s college game saw seven top players earn tour cards through the new LPGA Q-Series. Alabama’s top two players breezed through the series and turned pro, decimating the Tide’s squad, while reigning NCAA individual champion Jennifer Kupcho of Wake Forest opted to defer membership until the completion of her senior season in May. That means that she’ll have roughly six to eight fewer events to try and retain her playing privileges for the 2020 season.