MEMPHIS — A memo sent Friday afternoon to PGA Tour players from Commissioner Jay Monahan outlined the updated policy for the playoffs as decided by the tour’s policy board. The headline, at least for those who have followed the saga of the four players who would make the Korn Ferry Tour Finals should Bubba Watson be removed from the eligibility list, is that Watson’s resignation will take effect in time for the list to be updated before the start of the Finals series on Aug. 18. In other words, they’re in.
Only a week ago, Anthony Quayle, Chris Naegel, Rick Lamb and Matti Schmid seemed to have accumulated enough FedEx Cup points as non-members to finish higher than the player at No. 200 on the official list. That would make them eligible for the three-event KFT Finals that begin next Monday with the Albertson’s Boise Open.
At the Wyndham Championship on Sunday, however, the nightmare scenario for them played out when Tom Kim, a non-member himself, won the PGA Tour event to receive full membership and bump everyone below him down one spot.
That eliminated the four from qualification, but one last hope remained, and that came in the form of Watson. The two-time Masters winner, ranked 151st FedEx Cup points who hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since the PGA Championship, made it clear in late July that he would be moving to LIV Golf. However, Watson’s name remained on the eligibility list because he hadn’t yet played an LIV event or formally resigned from the tour. If he resigned, in theory the list could be updated, those below him would move up a spot, and the eligibility of the four players would be restored.
On Wednesday, a guerrilla Twitter campaign sought to convince Watson to resign. Hey replied that afternoonsaying he hate resigned, but leaving the timeline unclear. Sources close to the process confirmed on Friday that his resignation came a day earlier, around 2:30 pm on Tuesday, after several weeks of discussion regarding his status with the tour.
Monahan’s memo on Friday made it clear that the new FedEx Cup Playoffs and eligibility points list, created to ensure that PGA Tour members who resigned or were suspended in relation to LIV Golf didn’t negatively impact current players, would continue to be adjusted through the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, which concludes on Sept. 4.
“Today, the Policy Board determined that eligibility for the 2022-2023 season will be finalized after the Korn Ferry Tour Championship,” Monahan wrote. “Accordingly, the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List will continue to update through the conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.”
Watson is not mentioned by name in the memo, but sources confirmed that although his name had not been removed from the list as of 4 pm ET Friday, it would be gone in time for the start of the KFT Finals on Monday.
The memo noted that eligibility for the 2022-23 PGA Tour season will continue to be updated, ostensibly depending on future LIV defections, until the Friday before the first scheduled tournament—the Fortinet Champonship in Napa, Calif., Sept. 15-18.
One player directly impacted by the latest update is Rory Sabbatini, who used his top-50 PGA Tour career money exemption this season, failed to retain his card, and was not eligible to use a top-25 career money earner for next season because he ranked no. 27. With the impending removal, though, of the five LIV Golf players who are higher on the list—Phil Mickelson, Watson, Charles Howell III, Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey—Sabbatini will move up to No. 22 and be eligible to use the exemption for the 2022-23 season.
The other immediate beneficiary is Jonas Blixt, who was No. 201 and will move to 200, becoming eligible for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals.