Due to the multiplicity of names, there is often confusion as to what the PGA Tour organization does and does not run. Of the events in the PGA Tour schedule, it does not run any of the four major championships (the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship), or the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America, not the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and co-organizes the Ryder Cup with Ryder Cup Europe, a company controlled by the PGA European Tour. Additionally, the PGA Tour is not involved with the women's golf tours in the U.S., which are mostly controlled by the LPGA. The PGA Tour is also not the governing body for the game of golf in the United States; this, instead, is the role of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which organizes the U.S. Open. What the PGA Tour does organize are the remaining 43 (in 2009) week-to-week events, including The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup events, as well as the biennial Presidents Cup. It also runs the main tournaments on five other tours: PGA Tour Champions, the Korn Ferry Tour (formerly known as Web.com Tour), PGA Tour Canada, PGA Tour China, and PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
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The criterion for retaining tour cards at the end of the season also changed. Through 2012, the top 125 players on the money list at the end of the PGA Tour season retained their tour cards. For the 2013 season only, the top 125 players on both the money list and the FedEx Cup points list at the end of the FedEx Cup regular season in August retained their cards. The tour also said that it would decide at a later time whether to keep this aspect of the qualifying system in place in future seasons. Otherwise, the planned move by the tour to have the top 125 players on the FedEx Cup points list retain their tour cards took effect with the 2014 season. The next 75 players on the points list, along with the top 75 on the money list of the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of that tour's regular season, are eligible to play a series of three tournaments in September known as the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. The Finals field, however, is not expected to consist of all 150 players, as some of the PGA Tour players will be exempt by other criteria, such as a tournament win in the previous two years. A total of 50 PGA Tour cards for the next season is awarded at the end of the Finals. The 25 leading money winners during the Korn Ferry Tour regular season receive cards, and total money earned during the Finals determines the remaining 25 card earners. For all 50 new card earners, their positions on the PGA Tour's priority order for purposes of tournament are be based on money earned in the Finals. College players who turn professional can enter the series if their earnings are equivalent to a top-200 PGA Tour or top-75 Korn Ferry Tour finish.
Joseph Dey, the recently retired USGA executive director, was selected by the board as the tour's first commissioner in January 1969 and agreed to a five-year contract. He was succeeded by tour player Deane Beman in early 1974, who served for twenty years. The name officially changed to the "PGA Tour" in 1975. Beman was succeeded by commissioner Tim Finchem in June 1994. On January 1, 2017, Jay Monahan succeeded Finchem as commissioner.
There are also a number of events which are recognized by the PGA Tour, but which do not count towards the official money list. Most of these take place in the off season (November and December). This slate of unofficial, often made-for-TV events (which have included the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, the Skins Game, etc.) is referred to as the "Challenge Season" or more commonly as the "Silly Season."
Most members of the tour play between 20 and 30 tournaments in the season. The geography of the tour is determined by the weather. It starts in Hawaii in January and spends most of its first two months in California and Arizona during what is known as the "West Coast Swing" and then moves to the American Southeast for the "Southern Swing." Each swing culminates in a significant tour event. In April, tour events begin to drift north. The summer months are spent mainly in the Northeast and the Midwest, and in the fall (autumn) the tour heads south again.
The Tour continues through the fall, with the focus on the scramble of the less successful players to earn enough money to retain their tour cards. A circuit known as the Fall Series, originally with seven tournaments but now with four, was introduced in 2007. In its inaugural year, its events were held in seven consecutive weeks, starting the week after the Tour Championship. As was the case for the FedEx Cup playoff schedule, the Fall Series schedule was also tweaked in 2008 and 2009. The first 2008 Fall Series event was held opposite the Ryder Cup, and the Fall Series took a week off for the Tour Championship before continuing with its remaining six events.
Similar to other major league sports, there is no rule that limits PGA Tour players to "men only". In 1938, Babe Zaharias became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event. In 1945, Zaharias became the first and only woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. In 2003, Annika Sörenstam and Suzy Whaley played in PGA Tour events, and Michelle Wie did so in each year from 2004 through 2008. In 2011, Isabelle Beisiegel became the first woman to earn a Tour card on a "men's" professional golf tour, the Canadian Tour, now PGA Tour Canada.
Justin Thomas headlines the Sony Open in Hawaii, the first full-field event of the calendar year. Thomas famously shot a 59 here in 2017 and holds the 36, 54, and 72-hole records at Waialae Country Club. Defending champion Matt Kuchar also returns following his four-shot win over Andrew Putnam in 2019. Joining him are Hideki Matsuyama, Presidents Cup star Abraham Ancer and last season's Barracuda Championship winner Collin Morikawa. With 500 FedExCup points up for grabs, can Kuchar retain his title?
Due to increases in prize funds over the years, this list consists entirely of current players. Two players on the list, Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, are eligible for PGA Tour Champions (having respectively turned 50 in February 2013 and April 2014). Both have lifetime exemptions on the PGA Tour for 20 wins and 15 years on the Tour, and Love has won a tournament on the main PGA Tour since turning 50. The figures are not the players' complete career prize money as they do not include FedEx Cup bonuses, winnings from unofficial money events, or earnings on other tours such as the European Tour. In addition, elite golfers often earn several times as much from endorsements and golf-related business interests as they do from prize money.
Originally established by the Professional Golfers' Association of America, it was spun off in December 1968 into a separate organization for tour players, as opposed to club professionals, the focal members of today's PGA of America. Originally the "Tournament Players Division", it adopted the name "PGA Tour" in 1975 and runs most of the week-to-week professional golf events on the tournament known as the PGA Tour, including The Players Championship, hosted at TPC Sawgrass; the FedEx Cup, with its finale at The Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club; and the biennial Presidents Cup. The remaining events on the PGA Tour are run by different organizations, as are the U.S.-based LPGA Tour for women and other men's and women's professional tours around the world.
The number of Race to Dubai points available in the last three events of the season was increased, and the field size reduced. The aim was to make more players still have a chance of winning the Race to Dubai entering the final events. In addition, although the prize money was not increased, the bonus pool of US$5m would now be split among the top five players rather than the top ten. The money saved from restricting field sizes was used solely to increase the first prizes, which means that the tournaments would not have the standard prize fund distribution, and the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai would have the largest tournament first prize in golf of US$3m.