Tee to Green: Qualifying format gets intriguing overhaul

The PGA Tour Qualifying School's second stage is wrapping up this week with a pair of tournaments in Florida (at the Southern Hills Plantation Club and the Hombre Golf Club) and one in California (Bear Creek Golf Club).

In late November-early December, winners from the second stage and certain exempt players will descend upon PGA West in La Quinta, California, for the Q School's final stage. Over the course of one, six-day tournament (Nov. 28 - Dec. 3) some 300-plus golfers will duke it out with the hope of gaining a 2013 PGA Tour Card. Only the top-25 finishers (plus ties) will earn a card.

Sounds like high drama, right? Well, it is; and if this type of high-stakes competition intrigues you, be sure to tune in, because after this year Q School will never be the same again.

The official 2013 PGA Tour schedule was released a few weeks ago, shedding light on some significant changes to the end of season qualifying format; and Q School was directly affected. Per the new schedule, Q School will still exist, but it will only serve as an avenue to the developmental Web.com Tour (formerly Nationwide Tour).

Fortunately, though, for spectators, an even more compelling, high-profile qualifying event will take its place: the Web.com Tour Finals -- a four- tournament fall event which will coincide with the FedExCup Playoffs.

Currently, the top-25 golfers on the Web.com money list earn PGA cards for the following season -- Casey Wittenberg finished at the top of that list this year. In 2013 this will still be the case, but another 25 cards will be handed out at the conclusion of the Web.com Tour Finals.

The field for the Finals will consist of the top-75 from the Web.com money list and golfers Nos. 126-200 on the FedExCup points list, with the 25 PGA Tour cards going to the highest cumulative earners (excluding the Web.com regular-season top-25) over the four Finals events.

The cumulative earnings in the Finals will also determine priority for PGA Tour tournament fields. This means that even though the Web.com regular-season top-25 will have already earned their cards, they will still need to perform well in the Finals to better their chances of making the preferred PGA tournaments.

The top-50 cumulative earners in the Finals will be given tournament priority following the top-125 from the previous season's FedExCup points list and other exempt eligibility categories.

It all sounds somewhat convoluted at the moment, but the essential point to take away is that in 2013 there will be another interesting end-of-season event in the mix.

The last Web.com Tour Finals tournament will take place a week after the Tour Championship (the final FedExCup Playoffs event).

So while we say goodbye to the significance of the Q School, we should welcome the Web.com Tour Finals and look forward more high-stakes fall golf to come.