Published November 20, 2014
The PGA Tour money list will be relevant for at least one more year.
When the tour goes to a wraparound season next year, the original plan was for the top 125 who qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs to earn full cards for a new season that would begin in October 2013, just two weeks after the Tour Championship. The next 75 in the FedEx Cup join the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour for a three-event "Finals" that would determine 50 more cards.
That makes 2013 a short season — January until the middle of August to earn a card through the FedEx Cup. Previously, players outside the top 125 on the money list still had four Fall Series events to make up ground, as Rod Pampling and Sunghoon Kang did a year ago.
But there will be a reprieve.
The PGA Tour board has approved giving cards to the top 125 in the FedEx Cup and the top 125 on the money list next August. And, yes, there's a difference. David Mathis, for example, was No. 133 in the FedEx Cup and missed out on the playoffs. But he was No. 122 on the money list, so if that were the case next year, he would get a card.
Three others who missed the playoffs despite being in the top 125 on the money list were Brendan Steele, Jhonattan Vegas and Retief Goosen.
"Typically, what we've found in researching this is there's an average of a six- to seven-player difference in the two lists," said Andy Pazder, the tour's chief of operations. "Of the difference in the two lists, about half those folks have some higher status, such as a winner's exemption or medical exemption."
In this case, Steele and Vegas would have been exempt from winning the previous year.
"The net effect is somewhere between 128 and 129 getting their cards, so it doesn't have a huge impact," Pazder said.
Pazder said the short season in 2013 was behind the board's decision, at least for one year of the transition to a FedEx Cup system. He said the board will review whether to keep both lists after next year.
The lesson for players going forward? Consistency, no matter how mediocre, is rewarded over one or two big weeks.
Vegas tied for seventh at The Players Championship and tied for fourth at the AT&T National, accounting for 74 percent of his earnings this year. He also missed 11 cuts, and had only two other finishes in the top 40. One of those was Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, where he finished last among 27 players.
Steele tied for fifth in Phoenix and tied for fourth at the Texas Open, which accounted for 66 percent of his earnings. He missed nine cuts and had only two other finishes in the top 40 — a tie for eighth in Reno and 25th place in the 27-man field at Kapalua.
On the other side was Heath Slocum, who was 124th in the FedEx Cup when he went to The Barclays for the start of the playoffs. Slocum at the time was No. 142 on the money list. He didn't have a top 10 this year — his best was a tie for 13th in Mississippi and a tie for 15th in the Travelers Championship. He missed eight cuts, but he had nine finishes in the top 40.
MELANCHOLY MAHAN: Hunter Mahan won't be playing in the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2006. He might not be watching it, either.
"I don't think so," Mahan said when asked if he would watch the matches on television. "Being there, having gone through it ... it's tough to say that, too. You have so many friends on the team and you want them to do well. I don't feel good saying that, but I think it would be hard to sit and watch it. I'll watch the match results each game, at the end of each day."
Mahan, a two-time winner this year, missed qualifying by one spot and then was overlooked as one of the four captain's picks. He has played in the last two Ryder Cups, holing one of the most crucial putts at Valhalla and losing to Graeme McDowell in the final, decisive match at Wales.
He had talked about the empty feeling at Crooked Stick after not getting picked, and it showed. He closed with an 80-77 weekend to finish in last place at 12-over 300. He was 32 shots behind Rory McIlroy.
"It was hard — harder than I thought," Mahan said. "Golf is hard right now. I just can't deal with it all. It doesn't have much appeal. It feels empty. I tried to patch things together, change putters, a quick fix, but at the end of the day, I'm out of will. ... You need to be mentally and emotionally invested in each round. And if you're not, then it's hard to compete out here. I'm not even technically good right now."
Mahan said he would go to Orlando at some point this week to work with swing coach Sean Foley and get ready for the Tour Championship. After that, he and wife Kandi have talked about a vacation to get away from golf during the one event he wanted so badly to play.
"Haven't figured it out yet," he said. "It's hard to watch something like that when you've been through it a few times, you know how much fun it is and you want to be there. Once you go to one, you don't want to miss it because you know how much fun they are."
FEELING IT AT THE RYDER CUP: Three of the players involved refer to it as the highest level of play in a match — Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell took down Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry on the final hole at Valhalla in a fourballs match in the 2008 Ryder Cup.
"Both teams had to be 10 under," Furyk said.
Close. Poulter made one last birdie on the 18th as Europe was 9 under. Furyk rolled in clutch putts to the very end and the U.S. side was 8 under.
"Greatest game I've even been involved in," McDowell said. "Poulter didn't hit a shot for six holes and then he birdied the last two holes. Phenomenal."
McDowell best remembers the game not by how many birdies were made, but by a strange sensation the following day.
"I remember waking up the next morning and my arm was sore," he said. "I couldn't work out why it was sore, and then I remembered. We were high-fiving each other so hard because it was so emotional. Great game."
DIVOTS: A private service is planned Friday for Maria Floyd, the wife of four-time major champion Raymond Floyd, who died last week at age 69 at their home in Southampton, N.Y. She had bladder cancer. ... Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan are the only players to reach the Tour Championship all six years of the FedEx Cup. ... The European Tour released the international portion of its schedule, which included one new event that has been around for years. The 2013 season starts with the Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa, an official event for the first time. The Middle East swing concludes with Dubai on Feb. 3, two weeks before the Match Play Championship in Arizona.
STAT OF THE WEEK: A PGA Tour rookie has made it to the Tour Championship every year but one (2010) since the FedEx Cup began.
FINAL WORD: "Unfortunately, the Americans are slightly better than us at table tennis. I think the Europeans have the edge on the drinking." — Lee Westwood, on the teams getting together after the Ryder Cup.