SBD/January 25, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

PGA Tour Gives Players Overview Of New Plan As It Eliminates Q-School

Plan is most comprehensive change in tour policy since adoption of FedEx Cup series
As the PGA Tour is going forward with its "controversial plan to eliminate Qualifying School by merging it with the second-tier Nationwide Tour to create a three-tournament run for the roses with 50 cards on offer, players were given their first formal rundown of the far-reaching new plan in a mandatory meeting at Torrey Pines on Tuesday night," according to Steve Elling of CBSSPORTS.com. The plan "represents the most comprehensive change in tour policy since the FedEx Cup series was adopted six years ago." Q-school is about to be "sold down the river in an attempt to prop up the value of the satellite Nationwide, a tour property that needs a new title sponsor after the insurance company's contract expires later this year." A tour official said, "No doubt, it is a divisive issue." The tour is saying that it is "blowing up Q-school after this fall for two primary reasons: Money-list data convincingly demonstrates that the 25 players promoted after a full season of Nationwide play have a higher card-retention rate than have the 25 or so alums from Q-school." The second reason, and one "not broadly cited in the spin control to date, is the tour badly needs a new umbrella sponsor." As part of the pitch to "attract a replacement for Nationwide, the new plan is for the PGA Tour to run a wraparound season, a la the NBA and NHL, starting after the FedEx Cup series ends in mid-September." The new qualifying series will be "contested in the same time frame, at different venues, with tour cards at stake" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/24).

NOT PAYING FOR PLAYING: The PGA Tour does not allow for players to collect appearance fees, and Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw said, "We understand why other tours around the world may feel it's necessary to allow for appearance fees. We feel our job is to make our tournaments as attractive as possible for our players to compete. Other tours may feel the need to do it. We don't." Tiger Woods yesterday said he is playing this week in Abu Dhabi instead of the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open in part because of an appearance fee, but Farmers Tournament Dir Tom Wilson said that he "agrees with the PGA Tour rules." Wilson: "Essentially, one person is playing for the same thing as everybody else. It eliminates guys just showing up for the big check. They do have a pretty good field in Abu Dhabi, but not that many American players." Votaw explained, "A player with the fee misses the cut, for example, there can be the perception, the possibility, that the player just came for the fee. That's something the PGA Tour is concerned about. We've never felt that was appropriate" (L.A. TIMES, 1/25).
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