PGA has card up its sleeve

Tour looking to keep players from making quick leap

March 24, 2011

The PGA Tour's method of handing out cards to newcomers appears in for an overhaul — one that would make the Nationwide Tour a required step to keep hotshots from jumping straight to the big leagues.

Under a proposal given preliminary approval by the tour's policy board, only Nationwide cards would be awarded at the end of Q-school. PGA Tour status would come via a fall mini-series for the year's top Nationwide performers and PGA pros below 125 on the money list.

"It gives a little extra oomph to the Nationwide," said D.A. Points, a Nationwide grad who won last month's Pebble Beach stop. "Plus it's another little playoff system — and sports fans love playoffs."

The proposal isn't foolproof. Rickie Fowler, for instance, wouldn't have made last year's Ryder Cup team under the system — he would have been on the Nationwide Tour in his first full year out of college.

However, statistics have shown that pros who get Nationwide seasoning have better staying power once they move up to the PGA Tour.

Japanese relief: As Japan begins to rebuild the areas hardest hit by this month's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, it will get a fair amount of help from professional golf.

New LPGA Founders Cup champion Karrie Webb was among five players of the top 12 finishers who designated Japan relief efforts for money earned from the tour's inaugural all-for-charity tournament. Total amount to be given: $198,332.

Also, sponsor RR Donnelley is down for an additional $53,300 based on a pledge of $100 for every birdie and $500 for every eagle that was made at holes 15-18.

PGA Tour pros also have stepped forward to write checks, most notably a $100,000 donation from K.J. Choi and one of $50,000 from Bubba Watson. After Sunday's final round at Innisbrook, Watson strolled into the media center and handed his check to a tour official.

Ryuji Imada, born in Hiroshima, and Brandt Snedeker both pledged $500 for every birdie at Innisbrook last week. Mark Wilson, Joe Durant and Bobby Gates also donated via the tour's charity arm.

Staying put: The WGC Match Play will spend at least one more year in the Arizona desert, returning in 2012 to Dove Mountain outside Tucson. A move had been speculated after five years in a locale tough for fans to navigate.

— Jeff Shain

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