7 pros in danger of losing their PGA Tour cards at the RSM Classic this week

Harry Higgs of the United States waits to putt on the seventh green during the second round of the World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal at Diamante on November 03, 2023 in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Harry Higgs needs a good week at Sea Island.

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For the first time in RSM Classic history, jobs are on the line at Sea Island this week.

While the RSM has been the final event of the PGA Tour calendar in all but one year since 2015, this is the first when it actually concludes a PGA Tour season. That makes the event the final chance for pros to secure their Tour cards for next season by finishing in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup Fall points list.

For the past 10 seasons, that demarcation occurred after the Wyndham Championship, the final event before the FedEx Cup Playoffs. That gave those who failed to make the top 125 and the playoffs a chance to head to the Korn Ferry Tour Finals where 25 more Tour cards were up for grabs.

With the PGA Tour reverting back to a calendar-based schedule this year and the introduction of the FedEx Cup Fall, the chase for next year’s Tour cards extended to the RSM this week. Those who finish outside the top 125 will have just the five cards (plus ties) available at the PGA Tour Q-School’s final stage next month.

But not everyone floating around the top 125 bubble is in equal jeopardy. Former Tour winners like Peter Malnati, Troy Merritt, Ryan Moore, C.T. Pan, Patton Kizzire, Ryan Palmer, Scott Piercy and Cameron Champ (who occupy spots 119, 123, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133 and 135, respectively, on the points list) can play next season under the Past Champion category, although that exemption is further down the priority ranking than those who finish inside the top 125.

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Playing without any fear is Nico Echavarria, whose win at the Puerto Rico Open earlier this year gives him full status for both 2024 and ’25.

Also with a bit of a lifeline is Palmer, who has yet to use his exemption from being in the top 50 of career earnings on the PGA Tour (33rd), although he may choose to wait to use the one-time exemption. Moore and Jimmy Walker, among several others, played out of this category in 2023.

So while that muddies the waters of who actually is playing for their jobs this week in Georgia, here are the seven pros in danger of losing their cards.

7 pros in danger of losing their Tour cards at the RSM Classic

(Numbers represent FedEx Cup Fall rankings.)

121. Doug Ghim

Ghim has kept his card every year since initially earning it through the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Only 12 points separate Ghim from No. 126 on the points list, but five players would have to pass him this week for him to lose his card.

124. Andrew Novak

Novak looked likely to earn full status on the PGA Tour for the second time in his career after playing out of the 126-150 category last year. The 2020 Korn Ferry Tour grad was 105th on the points list after the Wyndham Championship but has slipped to 124 upon missing three of five cuts so far this fall.

125. Carl Yuan

The 2022 Korn Ferry Tour points leader had a disappointing rookie year on the PGA Tour, finishing the regular season 151st on the points list. But two top 10s in the fall have moved Yuan into the bubble position with one week to go.

126. Henrik Norlander

Losing out in the five-man playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship could prove costly for the 36-year-old Norlander. He’s moved up from 141st after the regular season thanks to the runner-up in Jackson, but he’ll need a solid week at Sea Island given he no longer has the option of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, which he took advantage of last year.

127. Maverick McNealy

Maverick McNealy has a final shot at avoiding a medical extension. Getty Images

McNealy could avoid needing to pursue a medical extension after he took off five months for a shoulder injury. He missed the cut in his return at the World Wide Technology Championship but will have one more opportunity to move back into the top 125 this week after being in the top 90 before his injury.

132. Zecheng Dou

Dou’s second residency on the PGA Tour was much more successful than his first in 2018 when the then-21-year-old made just four cuts in 21 starts. He’s shown flashes with a T5 at the Byron Nelson and a solo 12th at the Sanderson, but he still has fallen from his regular season standing of 123rd.

145. Harry Higgs

Higgs lost his full status last year and played this year as a conditional PGA Tour member. But he again was unable to replicate his success from his first two years on Tour when he had 13 top-25s and became a fan favorite for his style and on-course antics. In 2023, Higgs had 18 missed-cuts in 30 starts, including four of five this fall. He’ll have one final chance to either regain full status for next year, or stay within the top 150 for conditional status.

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