The Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., is the first of four $1 million tournaments that will determine who gets PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season.
The four-event series is for players who were No. 126 to No. 200 in the FedEx Cup, and the top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list.
Everyone starts from scratch, and the leading 25 players on the money list from these four tournaments will get their PGA Tour cards. The top 25 from the Web.com Tour money list are assured their cards. How high they finish on this money list only determines their pecking order for getting into tournaments next season.
Not everyone who is eligible will be competing.
Some players, such as Ben Curtis and Tommy Gainey, already are exempt for 2013-14 from winning on tour last year. The field includes a Masters Tournament champion (Trevor Immelman) and former Ryder Cup players Chad Campbell and Chris DiMarco.
BUBBA AND GREENBRIER: Anyone who can break 90 while playing The Old White TPC all the way back might have a chance to play a round of golf with The Greenbrier’s newest resident – Bubba Watson.
The former Masters Tournament champion is the latest to join the Greenbrier’s staff of professional golfers.
Other players representing the resort are Webb Simpson, Kenny Perry and Tom Watson, the Greenbrier’s pro emeritus.
Watson played The Greenbrier Classic this year and loved it so much he bought a home.
“I was blown away when I played The Old White TPC earlier this year,” Watson said. “My family and I had a great time experiencing all of the different amenities the property offers and decided this was the perfect place for us.”
In honor of the relationship announced Tuesday, The Greenbrier will introduced a set of “Bubba” tees that guests can play on the Old White. Those who break 90 will have their names entered in a raffle, and two winners will have a chance to play with Watson.
MINDFUL MICKELSON: Phil Mickelson is known almost as much for signing autographs as his five major championships.
He showed last week at Liberty National that he doesn’t just go through the motions. Mickelson played an 18-hole practice round for The Barclays, pulled out a marker and began working both sides of the fence lined with fans.
After signing each item, he handed it back to the person, looked them in the eye and said, “Thank you.”
He signed a program for one man and as he handed it back to him, Mickelson said, “Thanks for your patience. I saw you out there watching us.”
But it wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. As he went to sign a flag, he withdrew his pen and said to the man, “Sir, you already gave me one thing to sign. I won’t sign for you again.”
MCCORMACK MEDAL: Lydia Ko is winning the Mark H. McCormack Medal about as often as Tiger Woods wins the professional version of it.
The 16-year-old Ko has won the McCormack Medal as the leading player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 2013. U.S. Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick of England won for being the leading male amateur.
Ko won the medal for the third straight year.
“It means a lot, and to have won the medal three years in a row makes it more special,” she said. “To have maintained my position for the last three years has been meaningful. I won the U.S. Amateur last year. I wanted to win that championship so much. Without winning it, I may not have been able to maintain my position.”
Ko is coming off her second straight win in the Canadian Women’s Open on the LPGA Tour. She has been No. 1 in the women’s amateur ranking for 123 straight weeks. In the professional women’s ranking, she already is No. 7.
Fitzpatrick captured the medal by winning the U.S. Amateur to overtake Cheng-tsung Pan in the ranking. The McCormack Medal gives him a spot in the U.S. Open and the British Open next summer.
REVISIONIST HISTORY: Tiger Woods said going into the PGA Championship that while winning a major automatically makes it a great year, he had a great year because of the five tournaments he won – The Players Championship, two World Golf Championships and two other events on either strong courses or against strong fields.
He was asked if he had lowered his standards of what makes a great year having gone five seasons without a major. Woods said no.
Perhaps it was his comment from one year ago that led to that question.
It was at The Barclays in 2012 that he was asked about three PGA Tour wins and whether he saw it as a good year or some other description.
“Well, I see it as absolutely it’s a good year,” Woods said a year ago. “But I think winning a major puts it into a ‘great year’ category. I’ve said that countless times prior.”
Or he used to, anyway.
DIVOTS: Rickie Fowler will be playing the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on Nov. 7-10. ... Only six of the 25 players who earned PGA Tour cards through the Web.com Tour money list will be rookies next year. ... Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are the only players who have won a major, a World Golf Championship, The Players Championship and a FedEx cup playoff event. ... Europe begins its Ryder Cup standings this week at the Wales Open, where captain Paul McGinley will hit the first tee shot at Celtic Manor. Only one player in the field – Francesco Molinari – was on the last Ryder Cup team for Europe.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Three PGA Tour winners this year earned their cards at Q-school last year – Billy Horschel, Derek Ernst and Patrick Reed.
FINAL WORD: “Hopefully, she doesn’t get burned out before she gets the chance to turn pro.” – Brittany Lincicome on 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, who won the Canadian Women’s Open for the second consecutive year.