Qualifying school, which used to be the most grueling test in golf, both for its six-round duration and the pressure to gain PGA Tour playing privileges, has been demoted. By that I mean the significance and drama have been reduced somewhat. This year, players making it through qualifying school will graduate to the Web.com Tour and not the PGA Tour. It still may be grueling, but the payoff at the end is not the same.
Beginning this year, to qualify for the PGA Tour you have to go through the Web.com Tour Finals, which start this weekend. The next four events will determine the winners of all the 50 PGA Tour cards up for grabs. The top 25 during the just concluded Web.com regular season will receive PGA Tour cards, but their rankings can be affected by the next four events. Those not in the top 25 during the regular season can still make it by being in the top 25 in winnings for the four events in the Web.Com Tour Finals. But the competition just got a little stiffer. In addition to the top 75 in Web.com winnings, the Tour Finals field also include the PGA Tour players ranked 126 through 200 in FedEx Cup points. Some of these players are past PGA Tour champions. Look for most of the remaining 25 spots to go to the PGA Tour players.
You could think of the Tour Finals as a 16-round qualifying school to make the PGA Tour. Guess where this quest begins? Right here in Indiana! Sycamore Hills in Fort Wayne is hosting the Hotel Fitness Championship this weekend. The Jack Nicklaus-layout has hosted the Junior PGA from 2010-2012 as well as this year’s U.S. Girls Junior. So if you want to see some good golf this weekend, you know where to go.