Poulter, Gay receive exempt status adjustments for rest of season
April 29, 2017
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- April 29, 2017
- Ian Poulter is now qualified for THE PLAYERS Championship in May. (Marianna Massey/Getty Images)
Ian Poulter has kept his PGA TOUR card, after all.
A change to the requirements for Major Medical Extensions gave Poulter enough FedExCup points to retain full status for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. The modification also gave Poulter and Brian Gay enough points to qualify for the upcoming THE PLAYERS Championship and the Quicken Loans National.
Poulter and Gay were notified Friday of the changes to their membership status, which were made to compensate for modifications to the FedExCup Points Curve. Poulter called it a nice surprise to hear the news.
"Obviously quite a relief to know that I can play my schedule and plan my schedule for the rest of 2017," Poulter said Saturday after finishing his third round with teammate Geoff Ogilvy at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. "Obviously I've got work to do to maintain my status for a regular season, but I'm in a very different situation today than what I was yesterday."
"... Being in kind of no-man's-land, not knowing whether you're going to play golf, is very tough and very hard to book anything."
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 for membership 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).
Under the previous FedExCup points system, Poulter and Gay would have been over the Major Medical Extension threshold needed to retain fully exempt status for the remainder of the season. However, under the new system, which offers significantly fewer points for finishes between 15th and 68th, each player fell short of earning enough FedExCup points to fulfill their medical extension (Gay earned enough money to fulfill his extension and retain his status for the remainder of the season; fulfilling the FedExCup points requirement earned him exemptions into THE PLAYERS and Quicken Loans National).
While the FedExCup points system is a true equalizer -- in that every regular tournament counts the same -- the change to the FedExCup Points Curve unintentionally made it more difficult for these players to retain their exempt status.
"I'm appreciative of the PGA TOUR that it was even brought to their attention," Poulter said, "and they went about making that decision with the players board, they got a unanimous decision to obviously count our points for 2016 as they should."
The spirit of the Major Medical Extension has always been to provide the same opportunity a player would have had if he had not been injured to retain his card, and in this case the bar was moved significantly.
As a result, the TOUR has modified the conditions of the Major Medical Extension category to address this issue. Along with Poulter and Gay receiving additional exempt status, other players on Major Medical Extensions will play with the modified conditions as well.
Gay sat out 2014-15 with a back injury, played 13 in 2015-16 on a Major Medical Extension, and had 14 available events in 2016-17 to earn 309 FedExCup points or $461,851 to remain exempt for the remainder of the season. With $626,195 in earnings, Gay had qualified via the money list (but not FedExCup points (he had 280) but had three more events to do so).
Poulter, limited to 13 starts in 2015-16 due to a foot injury, had 10 events in 2016-17, to earn 218 FedExCup points or $347,634 to remain exempt for the remainder of the season. He had not qualified through either list (he had 155 FedExCup points and $317,010 in earnings), and his final start via Medical Extension was a missed cut at the Valero Texas Open.
Poulter is playing this week as the selected teammate of Geoff Ogilvy, who qualifed for the tournament due to his priority ranking. If Ogilvy and Poulter win Sunday, each will receive the usual two-year exemption for TOUR winners.