Open Qualifying Series a better, more fair approach
Note to PGA Tour members looking at their 2013-14 schedule: Cross Gleneagles off your list.
No, we’re not talking the Gleneagles. You know, the one in Scotland where Ryder Cup aspirations hopefully will take you next September. That Gleneagles should remain very much in your thoughts.
But Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas? Scratch it from your travel itinerary. It’s been a must-do the past few Mondays after the HP Byron Nelson Classic in May, a 36-hole International Final Qualifier to earn one’s way into the Open Championship.
That is no longer, though, because officials at the R&A have tweaked the process and come up with what is being called the “Open Qualifying Series.”
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After a quick perusal, here’s one man’s opinion: Cheers to the R&A. It’s a better, cleaner, fair, and more competitive approach than the one-day, 36-hole grind that they have used since 2004 with a set of International Final Qualifiers.
Instead of eight spots going to the top finishers at the one-day competition at the IFQ at Gleneagles County Club, there will be nine spots available into the Open Championship, broken down this way:
• The top four finishers (inside the top 12 and ties) not already exempt at the AT&T National.
• The top four finishers (inside the top 12 and ties) not already exempt at the Greenbrier Classic.
• The top finisher (inside the top 5 and ties) not already exempt at the John Deere Classic.
Those three tournaments will be part of the 10-tournament “Open Qualifying Series.” Maintaining its commitment to global golf and the various tours throughout the world, the series will commence with the Australian Open (Nov. 28-Dec. 1) where the top three finishers (inside the top 10) not already exempt will receive exemptions into next summer’s Open Championship at Royal Hoylake.
Other tournaments in the “Open Qualifying Series” and the spots available: The Joburg Open (three); the Thailand Golf Open (four); the Mizuno Open (four); the Irish Open (three), the French Open (three); and the Scottish Open (three).
In all, 32 spots have been set aside for these 10 tournaments. If this process doesn’t use all of the exemptions (last summer, only 27 IFQ spots were needed), then officials will refer to Section G and add more spots to the highest-ranked players in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Had this system been in play last year, Jordan Spieth’s dramatics at the John Deere may not have taken place. He would have already been qualified for the Open Championship via his sixth-place finish at the AT&T National and might have been in Scotland prepping for Muirfield rather than teeing it up at the Deere.
In Illinois, of course, Spieth defeated David Hearn and Zach Johnson in a playoff to not only win the tournament, but earn the last spot in the Open Championship, where he went on to finish T-44. And had Spieth gone through with his commitment and played in the Deere? His victory would have still been good news for Hearn. Since Spieth (and Johnson) would have already been exempt into the Open, the Deere spot would have gone to Hearn.
As for the eight who got through the IFQ at Glenagles in Plano – Scott Brown, Bud Cauley, Camilo Villegas, Luke Guthrie, Brian Davis, Josh Teater, Johnson Wagner, and Robert Karlsson? Well, they better plan on another route in 2014.