By Paul Myers
There was no PGA Tour even this past weekend, as the Tour Championship has concluded and some of the game’s best players get ready for the Presidents Cup this coming week in South Korea. However, that doesn’t mean that it was a quiet week in the world of professional golf. On the contrary, this was one of the most-important weekends of the year for players who are hoping to have an impact on the future of the game. The Web.com Tour playoffs concluded at TPC Sawgrass in Florida, with fifty players earning playing privileges on the PGA Tour for the coming season. Some of these players were on the PGA Tour during this past season and fell out of the top 125, while others will be making their way for the first time.
The story of the weekend was that of Rob Oppenheim, a 35-year old vying for a spot on the PGA Tour. Oppenheim had been previously denied a spot on Tour by a narrow margin, but this time he came out on the right side of the equation. When all was said and done, Oppenheim earned his Tour card by just $101 dollars in earning. Oppenheim actually left the golf course and headed for home, thinking he wasn’t going to quite earn enough in the final event to win a spot on Tour. Happily for him, he was able to turn around and head back to the course in order to pick up his card and celebrate a future on the PGA Tour.
Along with guys who will be making their first trip to the PGA Tour will be a collection of familiar faces headed back to the top level of the game. A number of the fifty players who secured cards are very familiar with life on the PGA Tour, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them not only make cuts on the big Tour, but contend for titles. Among the familiar names to golf fans includes Michael Thompson, Sam Saunders, Dicky Pride, Kyle Stanley, Ricky Barnes, Lucas Glover, Rod Pampling, and Brian Davis.
Although all of these players have worked incredibly hard to get into the position of holding a PGA Tour card, there will be no rest for the weary. Since the PGA Tour has gone to a ‘wrap around’ season in terms of scheduling, the new season actually begins on October 15th in Napa, California. As many of the top players skip the early season events to rest up after a busy summer, this part of the schedule is incredibly important to players who are new to the Tour. A couple of strong finishes early in the campaign can set up a player to have improved status when things pick back up again in the spring. The good news is that the players who earned their cards this past Sunday should be in mid-season form and ready to battle for crucial FedEx Cup points as the fall schedule gets underway.