It’s that time of the year: the last tournament to get into the Top 125 and secure a PGA Tour card for 2013. With playing status harder to come by starting next year, anyone who has the chance to get a PGA Tour card needs to put full effort into it.
Of those closest to No. 125 is Trevor Immelman at No. 126, with an exemption for winning The Masters, is certain to play the PGA Tour next season.
Past PGA Tour winners Boo Weekley, Jeff Maggert, Rod Pampling and Billy Mayfair are No. 125 and above, while other past PGA Tour winners D.J. Trahan and Bill Lunde, as well as two-time Web.com winner Gary Christian, are below No. 125. None of them are safe. There are also others outside No. 125 who will be exempt because of winning major including Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Gary Woodland, Y.E. Yang, Angel Cabrera. Gary Woodland won the Transitions Championship in 2012 and is exempt for two seasons with that victory.
Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey, leading after the first round of the Children’s Miracle Network event and winner at the McGladrey Classic, talked about the importance of finishing at least No. 125 to 150.
“It's very important, because you know, you're assured of about 12 to 15 tournaments,” he explained, adding that it was very critical this year because of the changes in 2013. “If you're outside, because I was like 202 coming into this tournament back in 2008, and I shot 64 the last day and that moved me to like 145. That just goes to show you never count yourself out because you've still got a chance.”
Englishman Gary Christian said being in the Top 125 changes things.
“It just allows me to go and play with hopefully a lighter heart and go play great,” he said. “I think it makes a man of you if I come through this and get into that top 125, then I think going forward you use that as something very positive to fall on where you have one opportunity to perform and you did."
At the end of next season, those ranked between No. 126 to 200, who are not otherwise exempt, go into a four-week playoff series, with members of the Web.com Tour to determine new playing cards for 2014. That is not a place anyone wants to be if they have already been on the PGA Tour.
As challenging as it is to achieve Top-125 status, several Special Temporary Member PGA Tour members have already won enough money to earn a card for 2013. They have chosen to do it this season rather than having to go the Web.com Tour route for a year.
The rule for special members is that they have to earn as much as the No. 125 player on the money list. Currently, that’s Billy Mayfair at $619,961. However, there are 128 players in the field at the Children’s Miracle Network tournament this week at the Disney courses, so that number will change as of Sunday.
Whatever the outcome of the tournament, David Lynn with $865,000, Ryo Ishikawa with $871,000 in earnings and Peter Hanson with $1,511,221 in earnings, will be exempt players on the PGA Tour for 2013.
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.