Insider: At various spots on money list, new goals await

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At 70th on the money list, Matt Jones is among those on the bubble for qualifying for several limited-field events in 2011, including the Memorial and the Colonial.
November 10, 2010
Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

If you work in an office, you may be aware that little gets done during the last week of the year. There's a whole lot of goofing off (which may be called strategic planning) and not a whole lot accomplished as you check off the days off the calendar.

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That's definitely not the case with the PGA TOUR. Just because this is the final full-field event for 2010 doesn't mean there's nothing on in the line. In fact, a myriad of issues will be settled this week at the Children's Miracle Network Classic that's played the shadow of the world's most famous mouse.

This week's season-ender at Disney World has drama coming from all directions. Among the issues to be decided at the Top 125, the Top 30, the Top 70 and the Kodak Challenge. There's more than a little intrigue in each of the categories.

The Top 125: Every golf fans understands the importance of that number. In addition to earning a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship, finishing 125th or better earns a player the Magic Ticket for 2011, meaning they're fully exempt for the season. It allows players to set their schedule in advance and offers great comfort and job security, at least for a year. For those who finish 126th or higher, there's definitely a level of discomfort in the form of waiting on the list of alternates or knowing there are specific events to which they can't gain entrance. This is the final week for them to make their move.

Last year only Nicholas Thompson and Jimmy Walker were able to move into the top 125 via their performance at Disney. Walker is safe this year at No. 100, but Thompson needs a little Disney Magic -- and a likely top-three performance -- to duplicate the feat since he ranks No. 150.

Troy Matteson is sitting at No. 125, but isn't really concerned; he's already exempt through 2011 because of his victory at the 2009 Frys.com Open. That puts the onus on outside-the-number guys like No. 126 Briny Baird,No. 127 Aron Price No. 128 Bob Estes and No. 129 Michael Connell to make up ground.

On the "good" side of the bubble, the guys who probably need to at least make the cut this week to keep their exemptions, are No. 122 Robert Garrigus, No. 123 Woody Austin and No. 124 Michael Allen.

The Top 30: Those who land in this category earn an invitation to the Masters and the U.S. Open. Heath Slocum is currently No. 30; he won The McGladrey Classic, but winning a Fall Series event doesn't translate into a Masters bid. Slocum is in the field this week and will need to hold off challenges from guys like No. 32 J.B. Holmes, No. 34 Brendon de Jonge and No. 40 Jason Bohn.

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The Top 70, 75 and 80: Overlooked by the casual fan is the importance of landing inside the top 70. This achievement qualifies a player for several invitationals that have limited fields. Those in the top 70 qualify for the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. Those in the top 75 qualify for The Memorial Tournament. Those in the top 80 qualify for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

The Bubble Boy at No. 70 is Matt Jones, who has won $1.21 million in 26 events. Jones is in the field this week and will try to defend his position from pursuers such as No. 71 John Rollins ($33,007 behind) and No. 72 John Senden ($33,805 behind). Others within range are No. 73 Cameron Beckman, No. 74 Davis Love III, No. 75 Tom Gillis and No. 76 Rocco Mediate.

No. 75, Gillis will need to watch Love, Mediate, or No. 79 Kris Blanks. Bill Lunde holds down No. 80 and will try to hold off No. 81 Jerry Kelly and No. 84 Justin Leonard.

Kodak Challenge: There's some real money attached to this weekly feature, which requires players to post their lowest score relative to par on the picturesque Kodak Challenge hole. Troy Merritt is 17 under, with Aaron Baddeley and Rickie Fowler both just one shot behind. All three are in the field this week with a chance to make it a very nice Christmas.

So it's a good week to win. In addition to the ability to move up in all the categories, there's another little perk involved: a trip to Kapalua for the season-opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions. And starting the season in Hawaii with a two-year exemption sounds good under any circumstance.

Stan Awtrey is a freelance columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.

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