Do New PGA Tour No-Cut Events Cancel Exemptions?

Max Homa, Genesis Invitational,Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Max Homa, Genesis Invitational,Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Max Homa wasn’t certain if past and future exemptions granted by majors and the PGA Tour would be affected by changes in the PGA Tour to shorter-field, no-cut tournaments coming to the PGA Tour in 2024. But according to Pat Cantlay, they will.

"“I would assume that you could still get bumped down to the non-designated events after a year if you don’t remain in the top 50,” Homa said. “I don’t think that you’re locked in for those five years, three years, whatever, in the designated events.”"

The topic was raised due to a story on saying that the designated events were going to be no-cut tournaments in the future, starting in 2024.

The article said the top 50 who get into the BMW plus “the top 10 players not otherwise eligible on the current FedEx Cup points race,” would become players eligible for the designated events.

This news does transform the exemptions that have been a part of the PGA Tour system for, literally, decades. It is a huge change.

In addition, five places will be reserved for players who played well in non-designated events and earned a spot in the designated events.

That still leaves 10 to 12 places up in the air. Additional players could grab those spots.

This news does transform the exemptions that have been a part of the PGA Tour system for, literally, decades. It is a huge change.

In the past, five-year exemptions for ALL PGA Tour events were awarded to winners of The Players, the Masters, the PGA, the U.S. Open, and the British Open.

It didn’t matter how a guy finished in that time period; if he missed every cut or won 15 times.  He was exempt to PGA Tour events, with the possible exception of the WGCs, and into the majors. That exemption is going away in 2024 for the elevated tournaments.

PGA Tour, Designated Events, Max Homa, Patrick Cantlay
Patrick Cantlay, Genesis Invitational, Riviera Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Pat Cantlay said we needed to think about it differently. He said the exemptions get players a Tour card. That won’t change.

"“What’s really important here is not to conflate designated events with a Tour card,” Cantlay began. “I imagine that those Tour card exemptions will still apply, but you may not be into the designated events by way of that.”"

He also said it could change over the season.

One additional way to qualify for a designated event is to win a Tour event; like Chris Kirk did last week.

"“I would think of all the designated events as having a similar, but all, all having qualifying criteria,” he said. “So just because you start the year not in the first designated event, if you play well, you’ll be able to get into the next designated event.”"

The new plan is to space the non-designated and designated events as three non-designated followed by two designated. The top five players in the points in non-designated events (not yet defined, but probably FedEx Cup points), would qualify for the next two designated events.

On the other hand, Cantlay suggested, a player could start the year in the designated events and, if play is not up to the right standards, he could fall out of them.

The reasoning for this, as explained by Rory McIlroy, Homa, and Cantlay is to give the sponsor of the elevated events, the television partner for those events, and the fans attending those events, a guarantee that they will see the biggest stars any day of the tournament.

Regarding the change in the number of players who are exempt and the idea of no-cut events, Rory McIlroy said it’s not new.

"“We’ve always had no-cut events on this TOUR. If you think of like the four WGC’s, you’ve got the three playoffs events, you’ve got the CJ Cup, the Zozo,” he noted. “So there’s precedent there for no-cut events. The only reason no-cut events are a big deal is because LIV has come along.”"

Rory McIlroy insists it makes the PGA Tour more competitive.

"“I think we were going that way anyway. You think of, the playoffs used to be 125, 70, 30. Obviously this year they have went 70, 50, 30,” he added. “I’m all about rewarding good play. I’m certainly not about — I want to give everyone a fair shake at this. Which I think this structure has done. There’s ways to play into it. It’s trying to get the top guys versus the hot guys, right?”"

Presumably, this new system would affect the permanently designated events, like the Genesis, The Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Memorial, the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the Sentry, and the four temporarily elevated events for the year that are a part of that program. But that is not certain yet.

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For instance, if AT&T Pebble Beach is designated next year, will they have more than 70-78 in the Pro-Am instead of 144-156? How will that affect charity for the tournament?

In other words, there’s now an elite top 50, a guaranteed Tour card top 70, and an earned Tour card top 125.

There will still be sponsor exemptions for tournaments. Further details are supposedly being sent to Tour members.