Here are 2 ways PGA Tour players who lost their cards can regain them for next season
*This article has been updated to reflect that PGA Tour cards will not be awarded at Q-School until next year, for the 2024 PGA Tour season.
The final round of the Wyndham Championship on Sunday marked the end of the PGA Tour’s regular season, and that meant that players without any remaining exemptions who finished outside of the Top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list not only missed out on the lucrative FedEx Cup playoff series that begins this week, but they also lost their PGA Tour card for the upcoming season.
For some players, the situation is more dire than others. Familiar names like Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman and Zach Johnson may have finished outside the Top 125 this year, but all three have career-money-list exemptions in their back pockets that they can cash in for next year if they want to. That’s one way to regain your card. And, at least on a week-to-week basis, there are a whopping 39 categories on the PGA Tour’s Priority Rankings that a player could potentially use to get into a field, like being a former tournament champion.
But for everyone else, the next several weeks are of the utmost importance. Here is the other way a player can earn his Tour card in time for the start of the 2022-23 season in September.
The Korn Ferry Tour Finals
The Korn Ferry Tour Finals is a three-tournament series that serves as the grand finale to the Korn Ferry Tour’s season, with a very enticing prize up for grabs. At the conclusion of the series, 25 PGA Tour cards will be awarded to the top finishers.
The tournament fields are comprised of both the Top 75 current Korn Ferry Tour players and Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup ranking, as well as non-members and players with medical extensions.
Twenty-five PGA Tour cards have already been awarded to the Top 25 performers on the Korn Ferry Tour this season. Those players are welcome to compete in the series to improve their exemption priority ranking. The top finisher in the Finals series will be awarded a full PGA Tour exemption, including a guaranteed spot in the Players Championship as well as the U.S. Open.
All three tournaments in the series feature a 36-hole cut, but eligible players can compete in all three regardless of their performance. Points are awarded according to a player’s finish, much like the PGA Tour’s regular season, with all players starting with zero points at the start of the first tournament.
The three-tournament Korn Ferry Tour Finals schedule looks like this:
Aug. 18-21: Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron, Hillcrest CC, Boise, Idaho
Aug. 25-28: Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, Ohio State University GC (Scarlet), Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 1-4: Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, Victoria National GC, Newburgh, Indiana
Newly minted PGA Tour cardholders can enjoy a short week-long break before the 2022-23 PGA Tour season begins on Sept. 15 with the Fortinet Championship.
But what about Q-School?
For the last decade, Q-School, a grueling test that unfolds over three months and four stages, has been a vehicle for players to earn Korn Ferry Tour status, with an opportunity to be promoted to the PGA Tour from their performance on the KFT. That remains the case this year. But starting next year, players 126-200 who fall short at Korn Ferry Tour Finals have another chance at securing a spot on the PGA Tour, because for the first time in 10 years, five PGA Tour cards will be awarded to the top finishers at Q-School.
Anyone who plays in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals can enjoy an exemption into at least the second qualifying stage, which is leg No. 3 of the 4 (pre-qualifying commences in late August, First Stage begins in mid-September, and the field sizes are pared down in each stage). This year, Second-Stage qualifying will be contested at five different sites across the country in mid-October.
Players who finished in the Top 100 on the Korn Ferry Tour Finals Priority Ranking List are exempt straight into Final Stage, which will be held at The Landings Golf Club in Savannah, Ga., this year, on Nov. 4-7.
So what happens to the players who go through all that and still haven’t earned their cards back?
Many of them can lean on sponsor’s exemptions, Monday qualifiers or their priority ranking from the previous season to fill out tournament fields. They’ll also have some status on the Korn Ferry Tour, where they can start the work of building back up to the PGA Tour once more.