Tim Finchem Says Proposed Q-School Format Change Enhances Nationwide Tour
The PGA Tour "has given preliminary approval to a concept in which Q-School graduates would no longer head straight to the Tour," and Commissioner Tim Finchem in a memo to players said the "proposed format enhances the Nationwide Tour from a competitive perspective while making it more compelling for television viewers and fans," according to Jeff Rude of GOLFWEEK. Finchem said the change also "increases the attractiveness of the Nationwide Tour for the umbrella sponsor as well as local tournament title sponsors." Rude reported under the proposal, "about 75 players who don't make the FedEx Cup playoffs would compete for 50 Tour cards in a series of three tournaments with the top 75-100 from the Nationwide." Players "would be seeded under a weighted system entering the series, and Tour cards would go to the top 50 in points at the end." Currently, the "top 25 from the Nationwide and top 25 and ties from Q-School get Tour cards." The Tour is in the "discussion-and-feedback stage," though Tour Policy Board member Paul Goydos said that he "thinks the plan will go through." But World Golf HOFer Lanny Wadkins said, "It's ridiculous. It sounds like old guys trying to cover their butts. Is this an old boys' club or who the best players are?" Rude wrote, "My first reaction is that I don't like the proposal. It strikes me as too much of a closed shop, too restrictive, too protective of current members making the rules, too much of a half-dream for Q-School entrants and too little of the concept of keeping immediate hope alive" (GOLFWEEK.com, 3/23).
MORE DETAILS: In Boston, Michael Whitmer notes instead of Q-School "offering PGA Tour cards for the best finishers, a late-season, three-tournament series will be created if the new plan is voted in." It likely would "take the place of the Fall Series, which this year is a cluster of four tournaments held after the Tour Championship, bringing the tour season to a close and giving those who didn't make the FedEx field one more month to make sure they finish the year among the top 125 on the money list." The Tour feels that "those who play their way up through the Nationwide Tour are better prepared to compete at a consistently high level than someone who gets hot in November and December at Q School" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24). ESPN.com's Bob Harig writes, "Just the fact that the PGA Tour is considering blowing up the way players qualify for the tour is an interesting development. Whether the concept takes off and actually goes into practice is a ways off, and how it is received by players remains to be seen." While the concept "has been preliminarily approved by the PGA Tour policy board, it will still be some time before it could go into action." Further discussion is "required by the player advisory committee as well as another vote of the policy board." In order for it to go into effect for the '12 season, it would "obviously need to be approved before Q-school gets under way this year, with the first stage beginning in October." PGA Tour Exec VP & COO Andy Pazder: "We're very early on in the process. There are a million and one details we have to discuss. It's not going to happen overnight" (ESPN.com, 3/24).
MIXED REACTION: Golfer Bubba Watson said of the current Q-School format, "You need to tweak it a little bit. I have always thought that you need to come from the Nationwide Tour and start from one platform and move up to the big show." Watson spent three years on the Nationwide Tour and said he "learned about myself, learned a lot about traveling, learned a lot about the game." Referring to players getting their PGA Tour cards, Watson thinks the ideal situation would be that "Q-school has five and Nationwide has five, and the rest battle it out in a three tournament series" ("19th Hole," Golf Channel, 3/23). But the GLOBE & MAIL's Lorne Rubenstein wrote, "Don't tell me that the PGA Tour would do this. Don't tell me that the PGA Tour would eliminate the conditions of the one tournament that serious golf folks find a must-watch because it provides a direct, albeit, highly chancy route to the big show. ... Come on, don't tell me that the PGA Tour will purge itself of Q- school in its current, frenetic form and thereby deprive planet golf of the game's most thrilling, nail-biting, agonizing tournament" (GOLFCANADA.ca, 3/22).