Golf

8 thoughts halfway through the PGA Tour's new fall schedule

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Collin Morikawa is part of a strong crop of PGA Tour fall winners.
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We’re four events into the PGA Tour’s new seven-event FedEx Cup Fall series of tournaments.
It’s a stark contrast to the last 10 PGA Tour seasons which featured a wrap-around season, which compelled more golfers to make starts during the fall so as not to fall behind in the FedEx Cup points race for the following year.
However, this PGA Tour season has technically included two fall seasons as it transitions back to a calendar year schedule. Instead of these events counting toward next year’s FedEx Cup standings, there’s a new points list for these events list that’s tacked on to everyone who finished outside the top 50 during the FedEx Cup season.
This week serves as somewhat of an intermission since two events were trimmed from the schedule, leaving this week, after the Zozo Championship in Japan and before Mexico’s World Wide Technology Championship, as a rare break in the PGA Tour grind.
Now that we’re just past halfway on the debut of the FedEx Cup Fall, here are 8 thoughts about the new section of the PGA Tour schedule.
1. Strong crop of winners: While Sahith Theegala opened the first FedEx Cup Fall event with his maiden victory, each of the three other fall winners were either already or became multi-time PGA Tour winners. That said, Theegala is also one of the PGA Tour’s brightest young stars, making the Tour Championship and contending several times during a strong rookie season in 2022. Despite a slightly down FedEx Cup season in 2023, where he failed to advance out of the BMW Championship, he’ll now start 2024 with momentum from his first pro win.
Meanwhile, List, Kim and Morikawa all ended one-year-plus winless droughts, Kim and Morikawa both establishing themselves as two of the top players on the PGA Tour after up-and-down years in 2023.
2. Stars sit out: What do Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Wyndham Clark, Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler all have in common? All have yet to make a start in the FedEx Cup Fall.
However, that was part of the point. Since no player who made it to the BMW Championship can improve their status for 2024 (they are already exempt into all eight signature events) they can skip fall events and not start from behind in January when the 2024 FedEx Cup season begins.
3. There’s movement in the “Next 10”: One of the incentives to play the fall for players who already have status secured for next season, but aren’t in the top 50, is entry into the first two of 2024’s Signature events, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the Genesis. Those players will be made up of Nos. 51-60 on the FedEx Cup Fall points list.
So far, three golfers have played their way into Pebble and L.A., Ben Griffin, J.J. Spaun and Luke List. Both Griffin and Spaun were just on the outside of the top 60 to begin the fall, 63rd and 62nd, respectively, while List was 119th after the Tour Championship and used his win to catapult himself to 59th.
Meanwhile, Brandon Wu, Davis Riley and Hayden Buckley are heading the wrong direction. After finishing the first FedEx Cup Playoff event in the top 60 in the standings, all three have now fallen outside.
4. Big names are still not in Signature events: As of now, Matt Kuchar, Keith Mitchell, Joel Dahmen, Adam Scott, Shane Lowry, Akshay Bhatia and Ludvig Aberg would all not qualify for the first Signature events. Justin Thomas is 72nd in the FedEx Cup Fall standings, leaving him on the outside looking in as well, however, he could still qualify for Signature events if he hangs onto his No. 25 Official World Golf Ranking. The top 30 in the OWGR qualify for Signature events.
5. 2024 Tour cards are being earned: Ludvig Aberg doesn’t need to finish in the top 125 of the standings to keep his card for next season, but he’s doing it anyway. Thanks to a T2 finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship, Aberg, who was 135th after the end of the PGA Tour regular season, jumped all the way to 99th in the Fall Standings. By virtue of his top finish in the PGA Tour University rankings, Aberg is already exempt for 2024.
Four other players have moved into the top 125 in the last four events: Scott Stallings, Troy Meritt, Henrik Norlander and Erik van Rooyen. Stallings, like Aberg, also has secured PGA Tour status for 2024 thanks to making it to the Tour Championship in 2022.
6. 2024 Tour cards are being lost too: MJ Daffue, Patton Kizzire, Zecheng Dou, Jimmy Walker and Austin Smotherman have all played their way out of 2024 Tour status, although they still have three events to change that, as do others behind them. However, those players have combined to make just six of 15 cuts this fall.
With the change to a calendar year schedule, the fall has become a seven-event sprint to maintain PGA Tour cards, drawing out one of the more exciting PGA Tour storylines.
7. Tiger’s “other” PGA Tour debut: The PGA Tour has been watching Tiger Woods as a professional golfer for the better part of three decades now, but starting next week, Woods will have a new impact on the Tour.
With the World Wide Technology Championship changing venues this year, El Cardonal at Diamante will mark Woods’ first design to host a PGA Tour event. The resort on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula was also Woods’ first design to be completed.
8. The RSM will have more intrigue: Like every year (except 2020) since 2015, the RSM Classic at Sea Island in Georgia will again be the final official PGA Tour event of the calendar year. However, unlike years past, the stakes will be much higher. Like how the Wyndham Championship used to have added stress as pros had putts to make both the playoffs and keep their Tour cards, the latter part now moves to the RSM Classic.
If history holds, the chase of keeping PGA Tour cards will make the RSM a must-watch event in a way it has never been before.

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.
 
 
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