PGA Tour to abandon qualifying school system

PGA Tour to abandon qualifying school system

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has announced the qualifying school route to membership will be cut off from next year.

Finchem confirmed the cards made available annually to compete on the lucrative circuit will be awarded through the second-tier Nationwide Tour.

Currently 25 places are on offer through 'Q-school', with another 25 PGA Tour cards available through the Nationwide Tour. That will remain the case at the end of the current season, before the changes are implemented for 2013 going into the 2014 season.

The final three Nationwide Tour events in each season will feature a field of players featuring the top 75 players on the Nationwide Tour and those ranked 126th to 200th on the PGA Tour, as they battle it out for the valuable right to compete on the most lucrative North American tour.

Those who finish in the top 125 on the PGA Tour points list will continue to automatically have their memberships renewed.

The qualifying school will continue to function but only offering access to the Nationwide Tour.

Finchem hopes the move enhances the status of the Nationwide Tour, and confirmed talks are ongoing with potential title sponsors.

"We believe strongly this is a very exciting moment for the Nationwide Tour, and for the PGA Tour, as well," Finchem said at a press conference in Orlando.

"Since 1990, we have studied year in and year out the comparative performance of players off the Nationwide Tour versus players off the qualifying school. And this is a reaffirmation that we have great confidence based on this many years of history what the Nationwide Tour does to prepare a player for the competitive challenges of the PGA Tour.

"Secondly, I think this process clearly makes the Nationwide Tour the primary path to the PGA Tour, and in doing so, it will tie the Nationwide Tour in the minds of fans, particularly, much more strongly, tie them much more strongly to the PGA Tour, to the PGA Tour brand and what the PGA Tour is all about.

"Thirdly, we think that the three final events create an exciting and dramatic finish to the season."

The current season will be unaffected by the changes which Finchem believes will enhance both tours.

He said: "Anytime you make a change, human nature is to ask: Why are we changing? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

"There's another way to look at things - that when things are going pretty well, that's the time to get better. That's the philosophy we've embraced."

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