August 17, 2011
For all intents and purposes, the main portion of the PGA Tour season is coming to a close. The Wyndham Championship marks the final event before the FedEx Cup playoffs, which means there isn't a whole lot left to play for this year ... unless you happen to be one of the handful of guys vying for exempt status on the tour next season.
If that's the case, then the Fall Series, which kicks off the end of September and runs until the end of October is the last chance for golf fans to get a glimpse of their favorite players.
The only problem is most of the big names pass on the events, taking from the end of the FedEx Cup until the first event in January to recharge their batteries and spend time with the family. It's a good thing for those players, but not for the casual fan looking for some big names in the field to follow.
But that could be changing. Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa, currently a nonmember on the PGA Tour, was able to do enough in his 10 tour starts this season to earn a special temporary membership for the rest of 2011.
That means from now until the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, the final event of 2011, Ishikawa can take unlimited sponsor's exemptions. You'd have to imagine the four Fall Series tournament directors are on the horn right now trying to get Ishikawa to play in their respective event.
With nothing to lose, it would appear Ishikawa would most likely play a couple of events, but since his temporary membership is a no strings attached deal, it means he can play as few or as many as he wants.
The decision to accept the membership is probably due in large part to where he currently stands on the tour's money list. With $577,136 earned this year -- $473,136 coming from his T-4 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational -- he's well within the range of playing a couple tournaments and getting inside the top 125 on the tour's money list, thereby allowing him to bypass Q-School next year.
Ishikawa has yet to confirm if he's going to be playing any of the Fall Series events, but based on his acceptance of the membership, there's a good chance we could be seeing one of golf's bright young stars playing late in the season.