How is it that one week, a PGA Tour field is filled with household names, but the next week, you don’t recognize a single one?
Events offer different amounts of points towards the year long FedEx Cup Standings. Whether you’re Scottie Scheffler eying a $15 million check or, in our case, GOLF’s Subpar guest Mark Hubbard, this ranking system is vital to every single Tour member.
According to the FedEx Cup point distribution, majors offer the most points; a handful of other tournaments offer more than the average event. Therefore, the weeks between the “point boosters” are often used as rest for the upper echelon.
The last few weekends have brought less widely known players to the spotlight. Events like the John Deere Classic, Barbasol Championship, and Barracuda Championship (where Hubbard’s heater included T13th, 3rd, and 4th place finishes, respectively) occur just before and during The Open, meaning the field is drawn from the bottom of the PGA Tour totem pole.
Those in the top 125 on the prior year’s FedExCup points list (exemption category 20) are guaranteed into most events. It’s much more complicated for those in last year’s 126-150 spots (exemption category 32). Mark Hubbard is one of those guys.
“You’ve got a ton of starts, dude!” co-host Drew Stoltz said to Mark Hubbard. “Are you surprised by how many starts you’ve gotten?”
Hubbard has recorded nineteen starts and counting this year (and, impressively, 15 made cuts), and you might be surprised who he has to thank.
“Thank you, LIV Golf!” he exclaimed, raising his arms above his head.
With players making the switch from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, more spots are opening up in the weekly fields. More importantly, players like Hubbard are moving up in the FedEx Cup rankings. Currently sitting at 81, Hubbard is eying the next category: the top 70 players make it to the BMW Championship, the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“There’s still four or five guys who are over there right now ahead of me. I could be sitting at 75 or 76,” he said.
LIV defectors are benefitting many players who are on the fence of different exemption categories. If you make the top 125, you don’t only get more starts. You get better starts.
It’s all one big butterfly effect. These bigger starts award more points and money to contenders, which then boosts their world ranking. This offers exemption into the biggest events like majors, WGCs, and invitationals.
This isn’t to say that Hubbard’s improvement to the next category is a matter of fate; he earned his jump up the rankings.
“I definitely did some work on my end,” he said.
By work, Hubbard means seven top-25 finishes this year. He means over $1.1 million in prize money this Tour season. He means that although he doesn’t know if he will get to play next week, he almost always makes the cut when given the chance.
While Hubbard is always chasing points, he’s chasing something much more important. He always tries to enjoy himself.
“I don’t know why people don’t just rush to that tournament to go drink wine,” he said in reference to the Fortinet Championship in the beautiful Napa Valley. In a place like that, “who cares what they shoot.”
He loves golf, but he loves to travel just as much. The Denver native has made memories nearly everywhere the PGA Tour and its affiliate tours stop – including his home town. The Tour provided the foundation for the best marriage proposal you’ll ever see. His days grinding on mini tours seem to be over, but as he climbs the ranks (hopefully to point-heavy events), Mark Hubbard will use the spirit (and LIV Golf) that got him this far.
To hear more about Hubbard’s journey from couches to Tour cards, check out the full Subpar interview below.