Go back just one week and Ian Poulter was saying that he would “come back stronger than ever” after losing his PGA Tour card by missing the cut at the Texas Open, but now he doesn’t have to.
San Antonio looked to be the Englishman’s last chance to earn enough FedEx Cup points on his major medical extension to stay fully exempt.
The Ryder Cup veteran, 41, finished two over par, two shots off the projected cut and down in T93. Failing to earn the rest of 2016-17 playing privileges.
He needed to win at least $30,639 (£23,905) – a top-30 finish – to keep his playing privileges for the rest of the season.
The PGA Tour has revealed an obscure blip in its new FedEx Cup points curve, showing that Poulter will have a card for the remainder of the 2016-17 season due to modifications. Here’s how they explain it.
Last year, the Policy Board approved a modification to the FedExCup Points Curve for the 2016-17 season to more accurately reflect the longstanding money breakdown used on the PGA TOUR.
The modification was done following the Policy Board’s elimination of the top-125 money category and minimized some significant discrepancies between the two lists, primarily in the region of 30th to 50th places (i.e., under the old FEC points curve, two 31st place finishes equaled a 9th place finish and a missed cut).
The change is due to the FedExCup Points Curve unintentionally making it more difficult for these players to retain their exempt status. Now fewer points are given out to finishes below 14th. For example, a 20th-place finish last season was worth 51 points, now it values at 45.
Major Medical extensions are in place to provide players with the same opportunity a player would have had if he had not been injured. But due to the change, the bar was moved significantly.
To rectify this the tour has modified the conditions of the Major Medical Extension category Thus, Poulter receives his additional exempt status.
Poulter was notified this week and is currently out on the course at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, playing with Geoff Ogilvy. The pair are inside the top 15 of the remodeled team event and Poulter is slowly grinding out results:
It’s a relief that I can play my schedule and plan my schedule how I want to.
The fiery Englishman was limited to 13 starts in 2015-16 due to a foot injury, giving him 10 events this season to earn 218 FedEx Cup points ($347,634) to keep his playing privileges. He failed to do so, earning 155 FedEx Cup points and $317,010.
This points modification also helps injury stricken American, Brian Gay.
Gay missed the 2014-15 after having two rounds of surgery on his back and thumb, played 13 events in 2015-16 on a Major Medical Exemption, giving him 14 events in 2016-17 to earn 309 FedExCup points ($461,85) to retain his exemption.
The four-time PGA Tour winner recorded T6’s in his last two starts, at the RBC Heritage and Texas Open, securing a card last week. Earning $626,195 in earnings, Gay had qualified via the money list. But he fell short on achieving his FedEx Cup points (he had 280 and needed 309, with three starts left) meaning he wasn’t in the upcoming Players Championship field.
Due to the PGA Tour’s flagship event no longer accepting the money list as qualifying criteria, only FedEx Cup points. Gay was still 28 points short:
You can’t change the formula in the middle of a major medical. That’s just not fair. They were essentially taking points away from me.
As Alan Shipnuck writes, after conferring with Andy Pazder, the Tour’s chief operating officer, the case went up to the Tour’s elected player directors and commissioner Jay Monahan.
On Friday they informed Gay that they had unanimously agreed that this season’s points should be allocated using last season’s formula.
Allowing Poulter and Gay to access the Tour’s modification in FedEx Cup points seeing them start not only at The Players (May 11-14), but also the Quicken Loans National.
Pitching camp in Orlando, Poulter hasn’t recorded one top ten finish all season on the PGA Tour, with his highest being a T11 at the RBC Heritage. Missing four cuts already this season, the Englishman looks to press on and gain his 2017-18 exemption.