Tours Operated By The PGA Tour
Due to the multiplicity of names, there is often confusion as to what the PGA Tour organization does and does not run. Of the events in the PGA Tour schedule, it does not run any of the four major championships (the Masters Tournament, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship), or the Ryder Cup. The PGA of America, not the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, the Senior PGA Championship, and co-organizes the Ryder Cup with the PGA European Tour. Additionally, the PGA Tour is not involved with the women's golf tours in the U.S., which are mostly controlled by the LPGA. The PGA Tour is also not the governing body for the game of golf in the United States; this, instead, is the role of the United States Golf Association (USGA), which organizes the U.S. Open. What the PGA Tour does organize are the remaining 43 (in 2009) week-to-week events, including The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup events, as well as the biennial Presidents Cup. It also runs the main tournaments on three other tours, the Champions Tour, Web.com Tour, and PGA Tour Latinoamérica.
The PGA Tour operates the following four tours, most of which are primarily contested in the U.S.:
- PGA Tour, the top tour
- Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. possession of Puerto Rico host one event each year. Note, however, that the events in Mexico and Puerto Rico are "alternate" events held opposite one of the World Golf Championships tournaments and therefore have weaker fields than a regular tour event. In addition, one of the four annual major championships is held in the UK.
- Champions Tour, for golfers age 50 and over
- As of 2012, one regular tournament is held in Canada, and one of the senior majors is held in the UK. A South Korean tournament dropped from the schedule.
- Web.com Tour, a developmental tour
- As of 2012, Colombia, Panama, Chile and Mexico host one tournament each.
- PGA Tour Latinoamérica, a third-tier developmental tour
- As of 2012, seven Latin American countries host tournaments.
The PGA Tour also conducts an annual Qualifying Tournament (known colloquially as Q-School), a six-round tournament held each fall; the top 25 finishers, including ties, receive privileges to play on the following year's PGA Tour. Remaining finishers in the top 75, plus ties, receive full privileges on the Web.com Tour.
The top 25 money-winners on the Web.com Tour also receive privileges on the following year's PGA Tour. A golfer who wins three events on that tour in a calendar year earns a "performance promotion" (informally a "battlefield promotion") which garners PGA Tour privileges for the remainder of the year plus the following full season.
At the end of each year, the top 125 money-winners on the PGA Tour receive a tour card for the following season, which gives them exemption from qualifying for most of the next year's tournaments. However at some events, known as invitationals, exemptions apply only to the previous year's top 70 players. Players who are ranked between 126–150 receive a conditional tour card, which gives them priority for places that are not taken up by players with full cards. Those players can also improve their status and regain full Tour privileges by going to the tour's Q School, going directly to the final stage.
Winning a PGA Tour event provides a tour card for a minimum of two years, with an extra year added for each additional win with a maximum of five years. Winning a World Golf Championships event or The Tour Championship provides a three-year exemption. Winners of the major championships and The Players Championship earn a five-year exemption. Other types of exemptions include lifetime exemptions for players with twenty wins on the tour; one-time, one year exemptions for players in the top fifty on the career money earnings list who are not otherwise exempt; two-time, one year exemptions for players in the top twenty-five on the career money list; and medical exemptions for players who have been injured, which give them an opportunity to regain their tour card after a period out of the tour. At the end of the season, the person leading the PGA Tour money list earns a five-year exemption.
Similar to other major league sports, there is no rule limiting PGA Tour players to "men only." In 1938 Babe Zaharias became the first woman to compete in a PGA Tour event. In 1945, Zaharias became the first and only woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event. In 2003, Annika Sörenstam and Suzy Whaley played in PGA Tour events, and Michelle Wie did so in each year from 2004 through 2008.
The LPGA like all other women's sports, is limited to female participants only.
There is also a PGA European Tour, which is separate from either the PGA Tour or the PGA of America; this organization runs a tour, mostly in Europe but with events throughout the world outside of North America, that is second only to the PGA Tour in worldwide prestige. There are several other regional tours around the world. However, the PGA Tour, European Tour, and many of the regional tours co-sponsor the World Golf Championships. These, along with the major championships, usually count toward the official money lists of each tour as well as the Official World Golf Ranking.
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