Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa says that the new PGA Tour regulations related to Q-School influenced his decision to play in the US, and to try to earn special temporary membership on the PGA Tour this season, which he did as of the Puerto Rico tournament.
“I am aware of that change,” Ishikawa said through his translator. “This year, since I’m given this chance to play more, I’d like to play well and I’d like to concentrate on playing well here.”
He noted that while some players were in favor of the new system, others were not.
“For the bigger, wider, bigger acceptance of golf, I ‘m for it,” he added. “I’d like to make the most of the chances I get this year.”
The changes for qualifying for the PGA Tour, which have been widely reported, include the fact that a top 25 finish at Q-School no longer guarantees a player a PGA Tour card and a top 25 finish on the Nationwide Tour no longer guarantees a Tour card. Starting in 2013, those who enter Q-School will get Nationwide status instead. There will be a new series of tournaments each year to award the 50 Tour cards. The final vote on this new system was made earlier in the week and will take effect in 2013.
To overcome this new system, in six starts this year, Ishikawa has already earned $582,471, which put him over the number needed to obtain temporary membership. The number needed is equal to or better than the 150th position on the money list for 2011.
Special temporary membership in the PGA Tour means he can receive unlimited sponsorship invitations for 2012. Non-PGA Tour members, those with no status, are only allowed seven and can play a maximum of 12 events.
Should Ishikawa equal or exceed the 125th place on the money list in 2012, he would have a PGA Tour card for 2013. Once he has his Tour card, he can continue as a Tour member until he falls out of the top 125 in money annually. He could also earn exemptions for a PGA Tour victory or a major championship victory. Ishikawa has said the top 125 is his goal for 2012.
At age 20, Ishikawa is one of the youngest competitors in professional golf although there are some younger, such as Matteo Manassero of Italy who has two victories to his credit.
In addition to the tournaments he has already played on the PGA Tour this season, Ishikawa will play The Masters, where he has received a special invitation although he is now in the top 50 in the world. Then he will return the Japan for several weeks, perhaps until the US Open. He does not have a detailed schedule for the rest of the year yet, but expects it to include some World Golf Championship events and the British Open, which also counts toward PGA Tour money.
“The important thing is to play better golf,” he added. Until August September, I may have to travel back and forth (from Japan).”
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.