The PGA Tour announced its schedule for 2013 this week and it includes some of the biggest changes ever in tour history.
While golf courses in the Midwest and the Northeastern sections of continental United States are normally blanketed under a carpet of snow the PGA Tour will again open its year in balmy, beautiful, palm tree filled, Hawaii.
As always the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Kapalua will be the first tournament of the year and will feature a field limited to tournament winners in 2012. The first full-field event will be the Sony Open from Waialae Country Club in Honolulu the second week in January.
2013 will premier the new wrap-around scheduling for the PGA Tour season. What we know as the “Fall Series” will now start the 2014 season and may consist of up to six events. The PGA Tour has not officially announced the new fall schedule.
We do know that the Mayakoba Golf Classic normally held opposite the WGC-Accenture Match Play will move to the fall. The CIMB Classic from Malaysia which has had limited status will become a fully sanctioned PGA Tour event. Current tournaments in the “Fall Series”, the Frys.com, the Shriners Hospitals for Children, the McGladrey, and the Childrens Miracle Network Hospital from Disney are also expected to be included in the fall scheduling.
These tournaments normally give new card holders and players that have struggled all year a second chance to earn enough money to move inside the Top-125 and retain their PGA Tour card for the following year. With the change to the 2013 scheduling the prize money from these six events now apply to 2014.
The new 25 PGA Tour card members from the Web.com Tour and the 25 from the last PGA Tour Q-School being held this year will now have five fewer events available to them to earn sufficient money to finish inside the Top-125 for 2013.
Marquee players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson usually do not make an appearance in these minor events after the FedEx Cup Playoffs are concluded. Golfers with lower tour status are able to get into the fields and it provides them a chance to earn some money.
The 2013 season will now end at the conclusion of the FedEx Cup Playoffs in the middle of August. Events such as the Sony Open, the Phoenix Open, and the Humana Challenge, now become very important for lesser known players as they will offer an opportunity to get into the bigger events later in the year.
New PGA Tour card members already know the importance of performing well in these early events in 2013 to move up the rankings and get in a position to qualify for the big money events like the WGC events and the majors.
The prospect for a tour rookie to retain his card is not a high percentage proposition. With the elimination of some early opportunities to earn prize money for the lower ranked players it just got a whole lot more difficult.