Three of the four majors take place in eight weeks between June and August. In the past, this has threatened to make the last 2-1/2 months of the season anti-climactic, as some of the very top players competed less from that point on. In response, the PGA Tour has introduced a new format, the FedEx Cup. From January through mid-August players compete in "regular season" events and earn FedEx Cup points, in addition to prize money. At the end of the regular season, the top 125 FedEx Cup points winners are eligible to compete in the "playoffs", four events taking place from mid-August to mid-September. The field sizes for these events are reduced from 125 to 100 to 70 and finally the traditional 30 for the Tour Championship. Additional FedEx Cup points are earned in these events. At the end of the championship, the top point winner is the season champion. To put this new system into place, the PGA Tour has made significant changes to the traditional schedule.
On March 20, 2012, the tour announced radical changes to the tour's season and qualifying process. Further details of these changes relating to the Fall Series were announced on June 26, with the remaining details announced on July 10. One of the final details received a minor tweak, effective for the 2013 season only, on September 11.
Alternate: Events which are played in the same week as a higher status tournament (either a WGC or the Open Championship) and therefore have weakened fields and reduced prize money. They are often considered an opportunity for players who would not qualify for certain events due to their world rankings, positions on the FedEx Cup points list, or position on the Tour's priority list to move up more easily or have an easier attempt at a two-year exemption for winning a tournament. Because of their weaker fields, these events usually receive the minimum amount of world ranking points reserved for PGA Tour events (24 points) and fewer FedEx Cup points than most tournaments (300 points instead of 500). Alternate event winners also do not earn Masters invitations. Fields for alternate events have 132 players. These events have 12 unrestricted sponsor exemptions, four more than the regular events.
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