PGA Tour's 'Primary pathway' has some major potholes

Former PGA golfer Bob Tway (left) caddies for his son, Kevin, in 2009. Attention on Kevin has little to do with his father.



SAN MARTIN, Calif. — Kevin Tway is the latest son of a major champion to earn a spot on the PGA Tour, and he already is getting attention as a rookie.

Just not for the reasons one might think.

“I even put ‘past champion’s son’ and it didn’t work out,” Tway said with a laugh.

He was referring to the letter he sent the Las Vegas tournament director asking for an exemption, which is hard to come by. Tway received an exemption for the Open, but not for Las Vegas. He tried to qualify Monday for one of four spots and lost in a playoff.

What’s amazing is that Tway even needs an exemption.

The PGA Tour has eliminated Q-school as a route to the big leagues, leaning instead on the Tour as the “primary pathway to the PGA Tour.” Tway won a Tour event, made the cut in 14 of his 18 tournaments and had four top 10s to finish No. 5 on the money list.

The top 25 are assured tour cards. But this path to the PGA Tour comes with a catch.

What follows the regular season are four additional tournaments – the Tour Finals – that determine where the rookies and returning tour members are seeded going into the new season. The higher the seed, the more likely a player gets into a tournament.

Tway had little to gain, and plenty to lose. He missed two cuts, didn’t finish higher than a tie for 52nd in the other two and now can’t get into tournaments. Instead of being seeded No. 9, he plunged to No. 46 out of 50 players.

The flip side is someone like Brendon Todd. He finished 20th on the money list, and then in the four-event “Finals” he had a pair of top 20s and tied for second in the last one. He’s likely to get in all four North American events.

“Obviously, I want them to do it a different way,” Tway said. “It seems unfair. But ... if you play well, they can’t keep you off the tour.”

Even so, there’s something wrong with the tour’s message that a year on the Tour now is the “primary path” to the big leagues. Because it’s not.Alex Aragon – at No. 9 on the Tour money list, and who fell to a No. 36 seed – barely got into the Open. It felt like Christmas morning when he learned over the weekend he received an exemption to Las Vegas.

“There’s no perfect solution,” Aragon said.

But his is a most reasonable one.

The top 25 on the Tour money list would be assured their cards, and the money list would continue through the four $1 million events in the Finals to determine seeds. A separate money list would apply for everyone else competing for 25 additional cards. The 50 seeds would be determined by alternating from one category to the other.

Otherwise, that “primary path” could feel more like a dead end.



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