The PGA Tour’s rank and file are rankled again.
The latest reason? The implementation of the Aon Swing 5 and sponsor exemptions into this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which features an 80-man field, purse of $20 million, no cut and beefed up FedEx Cup points, with 700 awarded to the winner.
“The Tour rated the Swing 5 category above being a Tour winner, which makes absolutely no sense. In every other instance, winning is at the top of the food chain, the No. 1 category, and it should be. Winning on the PGA Tour is hard,” said a veteran PGA Tour player, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It’s just another thing the Tour has done that is complete bullshit.”
Matthieu Pavon, winner last week of the Farmers Insurance Open, and Grayson Murray, winner of the Sony Open in Hawaii, were the top two finishers, followed by Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Kevin Yu and Stephan Jaeger. All five will compete at Pebble Beach Golf Links as the top five FedEx Cup point earners across the last three full-field events – the Sony Open in Hawaii, the American Express and Farmers Insurance Open – not otherwise exempt.
The 80-player field at Pebble Beach includes the top 50 on the 2023 FedEx Cup, Nos. 51-60 on the 2023 FedEx Cup Fall standings, the top finisher on the 2023 Race to Dubai not otherwise exempt (Nicolai Hojgaard), the Aon Swing 5, tournament winners not otherwise exempt (Nick Dunlap), players inside the top 30 on the Official World Golf Ranking not otherwise exempt (Justin Thomas) and four sponsor exemptions. This adds up to 72 players, leaving eight remaining spots via the “fill the field” category.
Multiple players reached out to Golfweek to argue players were originally told during a meeting at the Players Championship last March that winners would be automatically exempt into Signature events. That is still true, but the Swing 5 category, which was designed to give hot and trending players a shot to play their way into the big-money events, falls higher on the priority list than winning.
“Now it’s like, oh, no, winners are part of the Swing 5. That is allowing fewer players to qualify for these events,” a veteran player said. “It’s really disappointing that you’re under the impression that if you play well, you’re going to have the opportunity to get into one of these events and then you don’t. If there are an extra two or three players in this field, who cares at this point? There’s $20 million in the purse.”
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