Battle for tour cards starts early

GolfWeek Adam Schupak
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To many, the PGA Tour season is a marathon, not a sprint. But this year, the hare has the edge against the tortoise as the finish line to earn a Tour card for the following season occurs in August, not October.

The Tour will transition from its traditional calendar season based on the money list to a newly configured schedule that bridges two calendar years following the completion of the 2013 FedEx Cup.

The money list? It will matter only to tour wives, caddies and the IRS. After the Wyndham Championship ends Aug. 18, the top 125 players on the FedEx Cup points list will secure their cards for the next season and advance to the playoffs. Instead of PGA Tour Q-School, those left on the outside looking in — Nos. 126-200 and the top 75 on the Tour money list — will compete in a four-tournament series for 50 PGA Tour cards.

(The top 25 on the Tour money list are guaranteed cards and are playing for positioning.)

The 2013 Tour schedule looks much the same except players will have six fewer tournaments in which to secure status for the 2013-14 season. To compensate for some of the lost playing opportunities, eight tournaments, including four of the limited-field invitationals, agreed to expand their field size by 12 players.

Don’t expect much change from the PGA Tour elite. They may spread their schedule and add a fall event or two, especially with those tournaments awarding an equal number of FedEx Cup points. Veteran pros with limited status might find starts at a premium. Likewise, Tour and Q-School grads who struggle early may get lost in the reshuffle.

The shortened season means players will have a tougher time deciding when to rest. There’s no time to dawdle. Before we know it, the 2013-14 season will begin with the Open from Oct. 10-13 in San Martin, Calif.

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