ATLANTA — Justin Lower lost his PGA Tour card in brutal fashion in the final tournament of the regular season. Needing a par on the last hole to finish in the top 125, Lower ran his 60 to about 6 feet and missed a three-putt bogey.
He finished at No. 127 and was in tears when he said, “It sucks to be this short.”
Thanks to Saudi-funded LIV Golf, Lower is among the players who could get a reprieve.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan informed players in an Aug. 12 memo that the board had decided that eligibility for the next season (which begins Sept. 12) would not be finalized until after the championship. of the Korn Ferry Tour.
“As a result, the list of FedEx Cup qualifiers and eligibility points will continue to be updated,” he said.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that British Open champion Cameron Smith will join LIV Golf after the Tour Championship, and it is believed that up to six others could join him, all of whom finished in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup rankings .
The next LIV Golf event begins September 2 – two days before the end of the Korn Ferry Tour – and the PGA Tour has suspended players as soon as they tee off for the rival series.
Depending on how many players sign with LIV Golf, it will bump up players who are outside the top 125. If three were to sign, that would mean Matt Wallace, Austin Smotherman (who had his own mishap on his last hole at Wyndham Championship) and Lower would retain a full card and be byes for the Players Championship.
They would still have competed in tournaments, but the top 125 means they keep their priority all year without going through a reshuffle.
It would also have an effect higher up on the eligibility list. The top 70 compete in invitational events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial, which offer $15 million in prize money.
It wouldn’t be the first time Smotherman had been helped by LIV Golf. He is ranked No. 137 in the official rankings, but he is 10 places higher because of the LIV players in front of him who are suspended. And chances are there are more to come.
Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala are among eight players who can make plans for Kapalua even if they don’t win this year.
Kapalua is the only early year winner on the PGA Tour since 1999, and Wisconsin-based Sentry Insurance has ensured it will be that way for another decade. In the process, the field widens.
The PGA Tour on Tuesday announced a contract extension with the Sentry Tournament of Champions through 2035. It extends a 10-year partnership announced in 2020. Sentry’s first year as title sponsor was 2018, its first major deal to sports marketing.
Beginning in January, the field will include all of the previous calendar year’s PGA Tour winners as well as the 30 players who qualify for the Tour Championship. It was the same format used in 2021 as the previous year was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Change means a trip to heaven to start the year for Young, Theegala, Scott Stallings, Collin Morikawa, Corey Conners, Brian Harman, Adam Scott and Aaron Wise. All are in East Lake without having won this year.
Sentry has already agreed to increase its purse to $15 million, nearly double last year, as it becomes one of the highest prizes on the new tour schedule.
Sentry is already having a great year in golf in 2023. Its course, SentryWorld, hosts the US Senior Open.
Tiger Woods is the star attraction of the PGA Tour 2K23 video game which will be released in October.
The same goes for a guy who plays more golf than Woods – Michael Jordan.
2K announced on Monday that players can play with or against Woods in the 2023 edition. They can also purchase a special edition of the game which will include the type of coins used by Woods, a shirt and a “Tiger Woods Signature Sunday” pack. with black pants, red shirt, black hat, shoes and golf balls.
Woods is invested in other ways. He is an executive director who advises development.
“It’s not only great to be back on the cover of a video game, but the role of executive director makes it a truly unique opportunity,” Woods said in a statement. “2K is the perfect partner for me and I’m excited to continue to impact the game and culture of golf beyond my PGA Tour play.”
Woods only plays occasionally now due to leg injuries from his car accident in February 2021. He has made the cut at two of the three majors he has played this year.
The game will also feature Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau and Will Zalatoris, as well as LPGA Major Champions Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson.
LOVE THE PRESSURE
PGA Tour rookie Sahith Theegala knows all about nerves. He had a chance to win the Phoenix Open until a water shot on the 17th hole. He had a shot at winning the Travelers Championship until a double bogey on the last hole.
More pressure found him at the BMW Championship, and he delivered with enough good golf to qualify for the Tour Championship.
For Theegala, there is nothing better.
“Imagine not being nervous,” he said. “Obviously there’s a fine line between serious nervousness and anxiety and comfort, and finding that line is hard. But yeah, just the pressure is a privilege, and I felt it today. .
ASCENSION AND APGA
The Ascension Charity Classic has created a spot in its PGA Tour Champions field for Tim O’Neal of the Advocates Professional Golf Association Tour.
Ascension previously announced a three-year contract to host an APGA Tour event in St. Louis. Now he’s bringing an APGA Tour player to his 50-plus event Sept. 9-11 that includes a $2 million purse. This will be O’Neal’s first start as Champions. He turned 50 on August 3.
“We are thrilled to have Tim join this elite field,” said Nick Ragone, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Ascension. “By bringing the PGA Tour champions and the APGA Tour together, we hope other PGA TOUR properties will do the same, as we help make the game more diverse and inclusive.”
O’Neal, who twice missed winning a PGA Tour card at Q-school by one stroke, has played eight times on the PGA Tour and has 156 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour. He is a nine-time winner on the APGA Tour, created to provide opportunities on and off the ropes for underrepresented players.
Atlanta-based Southern Company has renewed its partnership with the Tour Championship. Along with Accenture and Coca-Cola, the PGA Tour plans to be at East Lake for the foreseeable future. He had explored the possibility of a rotation. … Eight years after playing the US Women’s Open at 11, Lucy Li is heading to the LPGA Tour. Li became the first player to earn a spot on the LPGA Tour next year on the Epson Tour money list with two wins, a second-place finish and a pair of top 5s. … Bobbi Stricker crossed the first leg of LPGA qualifying with a 69 on the Dinah Shore Tournament course in Mission Hills, the former home of the LPGA’s first major. She finished tied for seventh. She was caddyed by her father, Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker.
STATS OF THE WEEK
Xander Schauffele is 52 under in his five years at the Tour Championship. He’s been under par in 18 of his 20 rounds – the exceptions being an even par-70. He’s yet to win a trophy at East Lake.
“Maybe a Tiger injury.” — Patrick Cantlay, explains why no one has repeated as FedEx Cup champion. Woods won in 2007 and 2009 and was recovering from season-ending knee surgery in 2008.