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Golf / Thomas Bonk : PGA Moves Cutoff on Money List

November 22, 1987

The PGA has moved its cutoff on the money list for qualifying down a couple of notches to 127, but there are still several interesting names below the line. In theory, that means most of the golfers below 127 on the money-winning list would have to qualify to play in next year's PGA tournaments, but that's not always the case.

Anyway, below the line are such players as Bob Murphy, Hubert Green, Jay Delsing, Jim Thorpe, Calvin Peete, Rex Caldwell, Lon Hinkle, Andy North, Scott Verplank and Bill Rogers.

Don't feel sorry for most of these guys, though. Not all of them are going to have to go through qualifying. First, remember that the PGA says that players from 128 to 152 on the money list retain their tour cards and do not have to go back to qualifying school.

Also, players earn 10-year exemptions from qualifying by winning major tournaments--the U.S. Open, the Masters, the PGA, the TPC and the World Series of Golf. Green, for instance, won the PGA in 1985 and doesn't have to worry about qualifying, no matter if he never finishes above the money cutoff, until his exemption expires in 1995.

In addition, winners of PGA Tour events get two-year exemptions. Both Peete and Thorpe won tournaments last year, so their exemptions carry through 1988. The same is true for Murphy. North finished No. 163 on the money list, but his victory in the 1985 U.S. Open means that he is exempt until 1995. Down at No. 174, Rogers earned $33,965 this year, but his victory in the 1981 World Series of golf makes him exempt until 1991.

The real losers among the better known golfers seem to be Caldwell, No. 153; Hinkle, 159, and Verplank, 173.

Perhaps the sinking of Verplank is the most unexpected. He won only $34,136, although he played in 31 tournaments. The 23-year-old Dallas resident seemed on the verge of PGA stardom when he won the 1985 Western Open as an amateur playing college golf at Oklahoma State. No amateur had won a PGA Tour event since Gene Littler did it in the 1954 San Diego Open.

But there is hope for everyone below the line. A normal PGA tournament field is 144 or 146. Even if the first 127 players on the money list go to each tournament, there is still room in the field. Eight sponsor's exemptions are allowed for each tournament and four other openings are filled by Monday qualifiers on site.

Golf Notes

A number of celebrities and athletes, led by Rafer Johnson, president of the California Special Olympics, will play in a tournament Monday at 8 a.m. at Lakeside Golf Club in Burbank. The event is co-sponsored by American Airlines and former Dodger Tom Niedenfuer and benefits the California Special Olympics. . . . Just a week after announcing the AI Star-Centinela Hospital tournament for next spring at Rancho Park, the LPGA has tentatively scheduled another California tournament to be played in Fresno next October. LPGA marketing director Donald C. Stirling said the Fresno tournament, if it is worked out, would involve extending the women's season. The last women's tourney held in Fresno was in 1952 at Sunnyside Country Club. The winner was Babe Didriksen Zaharias.

Who's the No. 1 team in men's college golf? Oklahoma State, that's who, at least according to a list of the nation's top 20 college teams selected by the Golf Coaches Assn. of America and published by Jones Sports Co. of Portland. Here's the complete run down: 1. Oklahoma State; 2. Arizona State; 3. Wake Forest; 4. Arkansas; 5. USC; 6. Georgia; 7. Oklahoma; 8. Ohio State; 9. Clemson; 10. Arizona; 11. LSU; 12. Georgia Tech; 13. Texas El Paso; 14. Texas A & M; 15. Texas; 16. Houston Baptist; 17. Florida State; 18. UC Santa Barbara; 19. South Carolina; 20. Illinois. . . . Some of the top women college golfers and seven of last spring's NCAA top 20 teams will play in UCLA's Desert tournament Monday through Wednesday at Mission Hills. Scotland's Heather Kuzmich, who tied for ninth in the 1987 NCAA tournament, will compete for Georgia in the 14-team tournament. Teammate Nanci Bowen, who was 15th in the NCAA meet, will also be there.

A Tournament Players Club golf course may be built in Ventura County near Westlake Village. Tournament Players Clubs are either owned or managed by the PGA Tour. Each Tournament Players Club uses the "stadium golf" concept, which emphasizes a world-class tournament test for golfers and expanded viewing areas for spectators. The course, which will be located just east of Westlake Village, still must be approved by county officials. If approved, it could be ready within two years and might be the site for one or more top tournaments each year.

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