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How it works: PGA TOUR status and eligibility

The PGA TOUR is the premier meritocracy in professional sports.

Shoot the scores, earn a spot at the game’s highest level, and compete for the game’s most prestigious prizes.

So, how does one earn these opportunities?

PGA TOUR-sanctioned competition is built on a metaphorical ladder with several rungs, as players move up and down the ladder based on competitive results across a qualifying series or season.

PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry is the most direct way to earn status, offering PGA TOUR cards (for the top five finishers and ties) in addition to Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR Americas status. Q-School entails four separate stages of qualification, conducted across the fall season.

PGA TOUR Americas feeds into the Korn Ferry Tour, which feeds to the PGA TOUR – with 30 TOUR cards awarded after each Korn Ferry Tour season.

What are the qualifications for membership on each circuit? How do players earn tournament access? How does one move up and down the ladder?

Keep it here for insight into all levels of the PGA TOUR’s qualification process. This is your guide to all things PGA TOUR-sanctioned status and eligibility. This is how it works.

FedExCup Playoffs

The FedExCup Playoffs brings unique drama in professional golf, with a starting field of 70 players whittled down to one FedExCup champion.

The Playoffs kicks off at the 70-player FedEx St. Jude Championship, followed by the 50-player BMW Championship. The final 30 players remaining will proceed to the TOUR Championship, which features a Starting Strokes format to reward the highest-ranked players on the season-long FedExCup standings, a cumulative race but with quadruple points awarded at the first two Playoffs events.

The player with the lowest score after 72 holes at East Lake, handicapped by Starting Strokes, will earn the FedExCup title.

Priority Ranking

The PGA TOUR uses a standardized system for determining event fields, based off the current season’s Priority Ranking while also including additional exemption and qualifying categories.

Field sizes can vary by event, as can the number of event-specific exemptions. PGA TOUR exempt members are guaranteed access to all Full-Field Events, with various categories subject to periodic reshuffles based upon FedExCup Points accrued throughout the season.

The 2023 PGA TOUR Priority Ranking featured 39 categories.

Signature Events

PGA TOUR Signature Events are limited-field events offering increased purses and FedExCup points. The fields, which will range from roughly 70-80 players in size, are made up of the top performers from the previous season and the current season, allowing PGA TOUR members several different avenues to play their way in to the TOUR's biggest events outside of the Majors and THE PLAYERS Championship.

For 2024, there are eight Signature Events with limited field sizes:

• The Sentry
• AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
• The Genesis Invitational
• Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
• RBC Heritage
• Wells Fargo Championship
• the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday
• Travelers Championship

Eligibility criteria for The Sentry will include the top 50 players from the previous season's FedExCup standings through the FedExCup Playoffs (BMW Championship qualifiers) and tournament winners from the prior year, including Additional Events and the FedExCup Fall.

Eligibility for the remaining seven Signature Events will reward top performers from the previous season, the current season and the swings leading up to each Signature Event.

FedExCup Fall

The FedExCup Fall is when top-125 eligibility, which provides exempt status into full-field events and a spot in THE PLAYERS, is finalized for the following season.

After the conclusion of the FedExCup Playoffs, players ranked 51st and beyond in the FedExCup will continue to compete for points in the fall. They will begin the fall with all points earned in the Regular Season and the first FedExCup Playoffs event, the FedEx St. Jude Championship.

Nos. 51-70 in the FedExCup at the start of the fall have already clinched their top-125 eligibility for the following year but are competing for spots in the first two Signature Events following the season-opening The Sentry.

Nos. 71 and beyond can earn one of the 10 spots available in those Signature Events but they also are competing to finish in the top 125 of the FedExCup standings at the conclusion of the fall.

Special Temporary Membership

High-achieving players without TOUR status can earn Special Temporary Membership by earning equivalent non-member FedExCup points to No. 150 on the prior year’s standings. Special Temporary Members then can accept unlimited sponsor exemptions through the remainder of the PGA TOUR calendar, including the fall portion, upon crossing the STM threshold (non-members can accept up to seven sponsor exemptions in a season). Players who earn Special Temporary Membership also secure a spot in a conditional category on that season’s TOUR Priority Ranking.

PGA TOUR cards via DP World Tour

Beginning in 2023, top finishers on the DP World Tour’s season-long points list, the Race to Dubai, at season’s end earn status for the following PGA TOUR season, rewarding their excellent play with the opportunity to compete on both tours.

Ten PGA TOUR cards are available to the highest-ranked players in the final Race to Dubai standings who don’t already hold PGA TOUR status for finishing in the top 125 of the FedExCup Playoffs and Eligibility Points List or above. For example, if Rory McIlroy or another player already exempt on the PGA TOUR finishes fifth in the Race to Dubai, then No. 11 in the Race to Dubai standings earns PGA TOUR status.

The top finisher in the Race to Dubai who is not already exempt on the PGA TOUR will be fully exempt for the following TOUR season, similar to players who finish in the top 125 in the FedExCup. That player also earns a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship.

The other nine DP World Tour players will start the season positioned directly above the 30 Korn Ferry Tour graduates and the top five finishers (and ties) from Q-School in the PGA TOUR Priority Ranking.

Monday qualifying

Several PGA TOUR events offer four spots via an 18-hole qualifying event, which usually occurs on Monday of tournament week. Several players must advance through a pre-qualifier to earn a spot in the Monday qualifier, while others gain direct access to the Monday qualifier based on various merit-based categories.

Corey Conners won the 2019 Valero Texas Open as a Monday qualifier, the most recent to accomplish the feat on TOUR.

PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry

Beginning in fall 2023, the top five finishers (and ties) at Final Stage of PGA TOUR Q-School presented by Korn Ferry will earn PGA TOUR membership for the following season.

Players who finish below the top five and ties at Final Stage will earn Korn Ferry Tour membership to varying degrees, with lower-level finishers also earning PGA TOUR Americas membership.

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