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?
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.
At the end of each year, the top 125 in FedEx Cup points (top 125 on the money list before 2013) receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However, at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Since 2013, players who are ranked between 126–200 in FedEx Cup points (and are not already exempt by other means) are eligible for entry in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals, where they can regain their PGA Tour privileges. Non-exempt players who finish 126th-150th in the FedEx Cup but fail to regain their PGA Tour cards are given conditional PGA Tour status for the season and are fully exempt on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event, The Tour Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, or the Memorial Tournament provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured or are going through a family crisis, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. In 2015, the PGA Tour added a clause which would freeze an exemption for those required to perform military service in their native countries in response to South Korea's Bae Sang-moon having to leave the Tour for that reason. At the end of the season, the person leading the FedEx Cup earns a five-year exemption.
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.
Finally, two events held in Asia after the end of the PGA Tour's current regular season – the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championships event held in China – became full PGA Tour events, with official prize money, for the first time. Before 2013, neither event had full PGA Tour status despite being sanctioned by the Tour. Wins in the CIMB Classic were not classified as official PGA Tour wins, and HSBC Champions victories were official wins only for current PGA Tour members. Money earned in these events did not count as official PGA Tour earnings for any purpose.
Team: A United States team of 12 elite players competes in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup in alternate years. The Ryder Cup, pitting a team of U.S. golfers against a European team, is arguably the highest profile event in golf, outranking the majors. The Presidents Cup, which matches a team of U.S. golfers against an international team of golfers not eligible for the Ryder Cup, is less well established, but is still the main event of the week when it is played. There is no prize money in these events, so they are irrelevant to the money list, but an immense amount of pride rides on the results.
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After several months, a compromise was reached in December: the tour players agreed to abolish the APG and form the PGA "Tournament Players Division," a fully autonomous division under the supervision of a new 10-member Tournament Policy Board. The board consisted of four tour players, three PGA of America executives, and three outside members, initially business executives.
Invitational: These events are similar to the regular ones, but have a slightly smaller field and do not follow the normal PGA Tour exemption categories. Invitational tournaments include the Charles Schwab Challenge, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the RBC Heritage, the Memorial Tournament. The tournaments usually have an association with a golf legend, or in the case of the RBC Heritage, a famous course. The table below illustrates some of the notable features of the exemption categories for these events: