Notebook: PGA Tour evaluating two proposals to decide who gets cards

Stewart Cink
Getty Images
Player Advisory Council member Stewart Cink says he's a bit frustrated about the PGA Tour's efforts to iron out the final plan for determining which players will make the big tour in the future.
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series: PGA Tour

Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 | 8:19 p.m.

DUBLIN, Ohio -- The PGA Tour is trying to move quickly to identify the best model to combine tour players and Nationwide Tour players for a three-tournament series that will determine who gets full PGA Tour cards.

This is the last year for Q-School. Starting in 2013, all PGA Tour cards will be awarded through a three-event series.

Three ideas were presented at a Player Advisory Council meeting last week at the Memorial, though progress was best described by Stewart Cink.

"It's very much fight and fall back," he said. "I'm a little frustrated the way the PAC is going on it. It seems like we come to a meeting, and everyone has new ideas. The staff has done what it can do. But the players have new ideas every meeting, and we're not getting anywhere."

The three-tournament series combines the top 75 on the Nationwide money list with Nos. 126 to 200 on the PGA Tour money list. Fifty cards would be distributed. Q-School held late in the year would be only for Nationwide Tour access.

The tour brought two proposals to the Memorial.

One of them is not going anywhere -- using a formula to convert PGA Tour earnings to Nationwide Tour earnings because the three tournaments would be $1 million purses. That was quickly dismissed.

The other tour plan was for everyone to start from scratch except for the top 25 on the Nationwide money list, who would be assigned prize money depending on their position to give them a head start. The top 15 on the Nationwide list would be assured of getting one of the 50 cards.

The PAC offered a third option: The top 15 on the Nationwide would be guaranteed cards and would have a separate money list during the three-tournament series to determine their priority ranking. Everyone else would start at scratch and compete on a separate money list for 35 cards.

The tour hopes for something from the policy board meeting at the end of the month during the AT&T National.

"We're about halfway there," said Steve Stricker, who is on the board. "We determined there's going to be something different, but that something different isn't close yet. It's tough. No matter what system you come up, everybody pokes holes in it. We're trying to make sure we think about every possible person or category."

The key is to keep it simple. Golf already has too much math.

"That's what it's getting down to," Stricker said. "Let your score be the judge where you're going to go."

What has emerged over two months of study is that the tour is leading toward automatic PGA Tour cards for the top 15 on the Nationwide Tour. Now, the top 25 on that money list graduate to the big leagues.

DONALD'S ROAD: Luke Donald won an NCAA title at Northwestern, earned his degree, met the woman who became his wife and eventually rose to No. 1 in the world. His path, personally and professionally, nearly went a different direction.

"I knew nothing about the American college system," the Englishman said last weekend. "I thought I was going to go to Stanford. They had one scholarship, and it was between me and this other guy named Jimmy Lee. (Stanford coach) Wally Goodwin could only get one of us in."

Stanford went with Lee. Donald went to Northwestern.

"They told me it was academic stuff," Donald said. "I would have thought Northwestern had a high standard."

Donald does not know what became of Lee, though he did mention him and the story of how he got to Northwestern during a recent trip to his alma mater to be honored.

"My biggest `thank you' goes to Jimmy Lee," he said. "If I got the nod, who knows?"

ISHIKAWA TO AMERICA? Already a special temporary member, Ryo Ishikawa is virtually a lock to earn his full PGA Tour card for next year.

He tied for ninth at the Memorial and earned $167,400, pushing his season earnings to $763,631. He is exempt into the U.S. Open and British Open, and is guaranteed to make about $36,000 even if he finishes last in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone.

To become a full member next year, Ishikawa has to finish the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list. The player at No. 125 has finished at more than $800,000 only once in tour history, and that was in 2008.

DIVOTS: U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy needs someone to play golf with at the U.S. Open. The USGA typically puts the defending champion with the U.S. Amateur champion and British Open champion. Kelly Kraft is ineligible because he turned pro, and Darren Clarke withdrew with an injury. Before Clarke withdrew, USGA Executive Director Mike Davis considered putting Graeme McDowell in the group. The pairings will be announced this week. ... Tiger Woods has led the field in greens in regulation in both of his PGA Tour wins this year. He has led in GIR in 20 out of his 70 stroke-play wins on tour. ... I.K. Kim has become a Special Olympics Ambassador. She presented Special Olympics a donation of $100,000, half her earnings from the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Nearly half of Tiger Woods' wins on the PGA Tour (36 of 73) have come on six courses -- Torrey Pines (7), Bay Hill (7), Firestone (7), Muirfield Village (5), Doral (5) and Cog Hill (5).

FINAL WORD: "I think the Open is where most people come unglued. I don't think there's any championship as nerve-racking as the U.S. Open." -- Johnny Miller.