David Duval, John Daly and Others Get No Mercy; Must Go to Web.com Q-School

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2014

John Daly signing autographs
John Daly signing autographsDoug Benc/Associated Press

The top 125 in points are in the FedExCup Playoffs. And the No. 126-200 FedExCup point-getters will go into the Web.com Finals, which is the only way to make it to the PGA Tour these days. Players ranked above 200, like David Duval and John Daly, are out of luck and have to go to the Web.com Tour Q- School.

"It's a hard cut," said Tom Alter, PGA Tour spokesman, regarding the No. 200 for the Web.com Tour Finals and PGA Tour qualifying for 2015.

Alter's statement was in response to the question: With Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry, both Champions Tour players, at Nos. 197 and 199, does that allow Kevin Foley, No. 201, and David Duval, No. 202, to move up into those places and enter the Web.com Finals? No, Alter said, it doesn't.

Kevin Foley missed a four-footer on the final hole in Greensboro, according to Alter who was on hand to deliver the bad news when Foley finished.

David Duval is a former world No. 1, winner of the British Open and The Players. He gets no love either.

Here's the odd thing: It's not just Bernhard Langer and Kenny Perry who have collected enough FedExCup points to kick Tour players in Nos. 201 and higher out of the Web.com Finals. It's also a passel of other pros, including those who are already exempt because they won within the last two years or who have some other kind of exemption and are between 126 and 200.

For instance: Martin Laird, at No. 127, won the Valero Texas Open in 2013. The Valero victory gives him a two-year exemption no matter where he finishes in points now. He can't have his card taken away for 2015. But by being at No. 127, he takes a spot away from the guy at No. 201, 202 or 203.

Brian Gay, John Merrick, D.A. Points, Derek Ernst, Ken Duke and Woody Austin all finished at a higher number than 126, but they have another year of exemption left from wining in 2013. Davis Love III, who has a lifetime exemption based on the number of career wins, is at No. 162. Darren Clarke, at No. 198, has an exemption from the British Open. He can't get a better slot by playing in the Web.com Finals, and you can count on him not to participate. Yet, no one above No. 200 gets to move up and take his slot in the competition. Those spots go unused. That's just 11 who are easy to identify.

There could be more who do not need to go to Web.com Finals as the points list does not identify medical exemptions and the assorted other categories, like past champions and career money.

So, looking at this from 10,000 feet, wouldn't it be better to allow those who already have a guaranteed PGA Tour card to bow out of the Web.com Finals and give a chance to those who actually need it? You'd think so.

Usually at this juncture, the PGA Tour likes to make the point that some guys play the Web.com Finals to try to improve their position for entering events next season. Darren Clarke won the British Open when he was 44 and is exempt for everything until he's 49 and ready to join the Champions Tour. It's not possible for him to improve his position unless he plays Race to Dubai events.

Recent winners like Martin Laird can get in most 2015 tournaments. They don't need the Finals.

Wouldn't it make more sense to have a rule that said anyone having an exemption for the subsequent year, and falling in the 126-200 range, would be seeded ahead of those who go to the Web.com Finals? Just asking. That lets in another 10-15 players for the Web.com Finals and gives them a shot at getting their PGA Tour card along with the Web.com players.

Adding in players like Duval and Foley and the nine others who could play if the 11 who already have a card don't would be no different than having alternates for tournaments. It is exactly what is done most weeks on the PGA Tour and even at majors, minus The Masters and The Players.

Everyone remembers the recent PGA Championship where they had so many withdrawals that Steve Flesch, who was working for Golf Channel, was the only person on the alternate list who was at the golf course when play began on Thursday.

People scrambled to find him left-handed clubs, golf balls, shirts, shoes. He was on standby in case someone did not make their tee time. It could have happened. If Jason Dufner had withdrawn early Thursday, instead of playing nine holes and withdrawing, Flesch would have been in the tournament.

Not many alternates get a lot of attention, but the exception to that was John Daly, who was ninth alternate and won the 1991 PGA Championship. The rest is golf soap-opera history.

When the only path to the PGA Tour annually is to go through the Web.com Finals, it doesn't make sense to boot guys who don't have a card and tell guys who do they can play four more weeks. For what? They are already PGA Tour winners, and that's a top exemption category. They can't get higher unless they win a major or win more than once in a season.

Now for those who like to deal in real PGA Tour exemption trivia, there is one category that would surprise most golf fans and maybe even some pros. These guys don't have to play in anything to get their PGA Tour card for 2015. Some are recent major winners, but some are such veterans that they won before most all of today's PGA Tour players were born.

The category is left over from old agreements between the PGA of America and the PGA Tour allowing winners of the U.S. Open or PGA Championship prior to 1970 to play in any PGA Tour event. It includes: Jack Burke Jr., Billy Casper, Dow Finsterwald, Raymond Floyd, Doug Ford, Al "Mr. 59" Geiberger, Don January, Gene Littler, Bobby Nichols, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.  Burke is 91 and Ford is 92.

Can you imagine what would happen if they all decided to enter a tournament? That would be something to see.  

Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour, R&A or PGA of America.


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