Behind the PGA Tour rule that could cost Jordan Spieth $20,000 (or a suspension)

September 10, 2018
Jordan Spieth, Saturday, 2018 PGA Championship

We may soon be calling it The Jordan Spieth Rule.

But it already has an official name.

It’s the PGA Tour’s Strength of Field Regulation, and it made headlines this weekend when it became apparent that Spieth may run afoul of it. If current results hold at the rain-delayed BMW Championship, Spieth will fail to qualify for next week’s Tour Championship, putting him in violation of a season-minimum for tournament appearances.

Word of that violation, which carries a potential $20,000 fine or three-tournament suspension, came as a surprise to many golf fans.

But it shouldn’t have been a shock to Spieth.

The rule Strength of Field rules isn’t spanking new.

It went into effect two years ago, at the start of the 2016-17 Tour season, as a means of bringing more high-wattage stars to lesser-light events. Under the mandate, players are required to add a new event to their schedule, or play in a minimum of 25 events, during the course of a season.

There are exceptions to the rule. Players with lifetime Tour status (read: 20 or more wins, and 15 or more years on Tour) get a pass. So do players 45 years or older.

But Spieth is neither of those.

And if nothing changes at the BMW, Spieth is projected to finish is 31st in the FedEx standings, outside the 30-player cutline for East Lake.

That’s uncharted territory for Spieth, who has qualified for the Tour Championship in each of his professional seasons.

It could also be unchartered territory for the Tour, which has yet to find a player in violation of its Strength of Field rule.