A multiple-time winner lost his Tour card — then got a big assist from LIV Golf

Rory Sabbatini at last month's Rocket Mortgage Classic.

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Rory Sabbatini will keep his PGA Tour card. Five pros will have a shot at one. 

All thanks to … LIV Golf?

It’s true, though a bit complicated, as it involves resignations and suspensions, various standings and a recent update to those standings. In short, though, Sabbatini, the silver medalist at last year’s Olympic Games and a six-time Tour winner, will now get to use an exemption as a top-25 all-time money winner to play on the Tour next season, and pros Anthony Quayle, Chris Naegel, Rick Lamb, Matti Schmid and Jonas Blixt gain entry into the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, a three-week series that begins next week and hands out 25 Tour cards. 

We’ll start with Sabbatini, who was helped by a recent decision by the Tour to update the all-time money list by removing the golfers who have either resigned from the Tour or been suspended for playing in events in the controversial, Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series. This season, Sabbatini played under an exemption as a top-50 all-time money winner, then failed to keep his card, but with the removal of LIV golfers Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Charles Howell III, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey, Sabbatini slides into the top 25 all-time — and unlocks another exemption. 

On his Instagram story, Sabbatini shared the news, from a Slovakian news account.

The cases of Quayle, Naegel, Lamb, Schmid centered around just one player — Watson — and included an online campaign. To begin, each golfer had accumulated enough FedEx Cup points as non-members this season to gain entry into the KFT Finals, then all moved below the threshold when Joohyung Kim won last week’s Wyndham Championship. Here’s where Watson comes into play. 

He could help move the foursome back in. And the work began. Last month, the two-time Masters champ had pledged to play LIV Golf, and if he were to be removed from the season-long standings by resigning his Tour membership ahead of playing in an event, Quayle, Naegel, Lamb and Schmid were good. So Ryan French, a staffer for the Fire Pit Collective website and the operator of the popular Monday Q Info Twitter site, tweeted a plea to Watson. 

And Watson responded

And Watson will be removed. 

And Quayle, Naegel, Lamb and Schmid — and Blixt, who hit the regular-season threshold after the Watson move — all have a spot in the KFT Finals, which begin Thursday at the Boise Open.  

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.