By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- If Ryo Ishikawa should go on to win the biggest event of his young career at Firestone Country Club on Sunday, the 19-year-old would be eligible to immediately join the PGA TOUR.
And it could happen. Ishikawa starts the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational tied for second with Jason Day, trailing Adam Scott by one stroke.
If he wins, Ishikawa would need to take up membership by Monday to participate in the FedExCup. He would not get FedExCup points for the Bridgestone Invitational but could earn them at the PGA Championship and the Wyndham Championship in hopes of making the Playoffs.
Should Ishikawa win and opt not to take up membership for 2011, he can still join the TOUR each year within 30 days after the last official prize-money tournament for the remainder of his three year exemption (2012-2014).
But there are other avenues to the TOUR open to Ishikawa, even if he doesn't win. Ishikawa likely needs to finish in a two-way tie for fourth or better to earn enough money to qualify for special temporary membership.
The teenager from Japan currently has earned $247,636 in PGA TOUR events this year. He needs to top $563,729 -- which is the amount earned by the player who finished No. 150 on the 2010 TOUR money list -- to become a special temporary member and be eligible for unlimited sponsor's exemptions the rest of the season.
Should Ishikawa qualify and take up special temporary membership, he could potentially play in the Wyndham Championship and the Fall Series events -- but not in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Ishikawa, who is already entered in the PGA Championship, has 60 days to take up special temporary membership once he qualifies.
Then if Ishikawa earns enough money in 2011 to equal or exceed the the amount of the player who finishes 125th on the TOUR money list, he could join as a member for 2012 -- without having to go to qualifying school. He has 30 days to join after the Children's Miracle Network Classic is over.