PGA Tour University is expanding its performance benefits just in time for the new men’s college golf season.
As it enters its third year, PGA Tour U announced Wednesday that starting with the Class of 2023 it will increase the number of graduates who earn tour membership, reaffirm that those grads receive exemptions into the new PGA Tour Q-School and make it less risky for players who want to take advantage of PGA Tour exemptions the summer after graduation.
The big change is the addition of five graduating spots, running the total to 20. The grads will now be split into three “teams,” like how All-Americans are divided, and receive more perks:
• First team (Nos. 1-5): The top five players in PGA Tour U following the NCAA Championship will still be exempt on the Korn Ferry Tour that summer but also will receive membership on an international tour, either Canada or Latinoamerica, the following season.
• Second team (Nos. 6-10): This group will also earn KFT cards, though conditional, meaning they will be able to play out of the PGA Tour U category and will get into a tournament via one of those five allotted slots should any of the top 5 players decide not to play that week (No. 6 would have first priority in that scenario). The players could also theoretically play their way into better status via the points list. Furthermore, Nos. 6-10 will be exempt for that summer’s Canada season and the following Latinoamerica season.
• Third team (Nos. 11-20): This group will receive full Canada status for the current season and full Latinoamerica status the following season.
As far as Q-School – where, starting in 2023, PGA Tour cards will be up for grabs for the first time since 2012 – Nos. 1-5 in PGA Tour U will still receive an exemption into final stage while Nos. 6-20 will now be exempt into second stage. So, while there still isn’t a direct path for college players to the PGA Tour through PGA Tour U, this does provide a potential option to get onto the PGA Tour within a year of turning pro.
The final change will offer an additional season of Korn Ferry Tour membership to the top three finishers in a new combined points race. All 20 PGA Tour U graduates will be eligible, and both FedExCup and KFT points for that current season will be factored.
This race will help ensure that players won’t be penalized for making PGA Tour starts in place of KFT events and reward players for their success, even if it’s split between the two tours. For example, had this feature been in place last season, Jacob Bridgeman, who finished No. 123 in KFT points but also made the cut at the Barbasol in July, would’ve earned his KFT card for next season (along with Chris Gotterup and Pierceson Coody) instead of having to go to Q-School.
Florida senior Fred Biondi will begin the season as the No. 1 player in PGA Tour U’s Velocity Global Ranking, ahead of, in order, Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg, Texas A&M’s Sam Bennett, North Carolina’s Austin Greaser and Texas’ Travis Vick.
Biondi kicks off his season on Sunday at the Fighting Irish Collegiate in South Bend, Indiana. North Carolina is also in that field, though Greaser won’t be competing because he’s at the World Amateur Team Championship in Paris. Aberg, No. 6 Reid Davenport of Vanderbilt, No. 9 Patrick Welch of Oklahoma and No. 10 Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira of Arkansas will kick off their seasons next Wednesday at the Frederica Cup in St. Simons Island, Georgia.