Which notable PGA Tour players could lose cards this fall? It’s complicated

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From left to right: Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman and Jimmy Walker.

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The 2023 fall season, which starts this week at the Fortinet Championship in Napa, Calif., marks the end of the PGA Tour’s fall-to-summer “wraparound” schedule, which first began in 2013.

With the scheduling changes comes plenty of pressure for the players teeing it up over the next several weeks. What’s at stake? A Tour card, for starters. In August, the top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings locked in their PGA Tour cards for the 2024 season by qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs’ opening event, the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

So, what happened to players ranked 71-125 and beyond? Nothing is guaranteed until the seven-event fall season is complete. During that time, players ranked 51st and beyond can take their previously earned FedEx points into the fall season with hopes of bettering their standings or locking in their exemption status (i.e., Tour card) for next year.

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While a win will easily do the trick for the fall-season hopefuls, there’s plenty more to play for. There are 36 total tournaments on the 2024 schedule between January and August. Eight of those are designated events with limited fields and outsize ($20 million) purses. The top 50 players from the FedEx Cup standings are already exempt into those designated events, but FedEx Fall competitors can qualify for the first two events (The Sentry and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) by being among the top-10 performers over the next seven weeks. So you could potentially have a player earn not only his Tour card but also a berth in these lucrative designated events in one fell swoop.

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But it’s important to note that even the players who find themselves on the wrong side of 125 could still have plenty of playing opportunities in 2024. Consider current No. 124 Jimmy Walker, No. 131 Erik van Rooyen, No. 137 Charley Hoffman, No. 150 Ryan Moore and No. 157 Sean O’Hair.

All five of these players can utilize their past champion status to play next year. (Hoffman can also cash in a top 50 career money list exemption.) Past champions may not get into every field they want, but they’ll likely have plenty of starts — and playing well once they’re in can bump them up the priority list even further.

Aaron Baddeley, the current No. 96 on the ranking, played 23 events from the past champion category this season, and is now well-positioned to regain fully-exempt status the old-fashioned way.

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Players can also extend their playing privileges with medical extensions. No. 108 Maverick McNealy took significant time off earlier this year for a shoulder injury, and No. 215 Brandt Snedeker, in addition to utilizing the past champion status option outlined above, could also pursue a medical extension for a lengthy absence he had recovering from surgery in the early part of the season.

For established players, the pressure to perform this fall is more about positioning — and priority ranking — than true accessibility. But for those players still looking for a breakthrough, like Harry Higgs (No. 132), the situation is more dire. If he falls out of the top 150, the minimum ranking for conditional PGA Tour status, there’s only one more pathway back to the Big Show for 2024: Q-School.

After the FedEx Fall, the top 40 available players below No. 125 on the FedExCup standings, to a floor of 200th position, will be exempt into the Final Stage of PGA Tour Q-School. All other PGA Tour members will be exempt into Second Stage. But the cut at Q-School is even more severe, with only the top-five players and ties getting PGA Tour cards.

Buckle up, golf fans. The drama is just getting started.

Golf.com Editor

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on GOLF.com.

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