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Asian events could get higher profile
January 26, 2012

A new plan to change qualifying for the US PGA Tour which would have seasons starting late in a calendar year with early season events in Asia has been a hot topic at this week's Farmers Insurance Open.

The $6 million tournament tees off Tuesday at Torrey Pines without Tiger Woods, a six-time winner at Torrey Pines who elected to play in Abu Dhabi this week in part because of a hefty appearance fee.

PGA players were told on Tuesday about an idea being considered for 2013 that would see the qualifying-school tournament only award berths on the second-tier Nationwide Tour rather than the PGA circuit.

Top Nationwide players also move onto the PGA Tour, but the idea would create a series of events after the US season to determine berths in the following year's PGA field.

In addition, PGA seasons would begin late in the prior calendar year and the race for reaching the season's top 125 would end in late August just ahead of the PGA playoff events that lead to the season-ending Tour Championship.

Instead of staging events after the Tour Championship for players seeking tour spots for the following year, a new three-week series would decide those berths and a new PGA season would begin in the fall, as the European Tour does, with events in Malaysia and China likely obtaining full PGA status.

"What I see being the issue is trying to start the new season in October," said four-time major champion Phil Mickelson. "I think the only way to do that is to have Q-school not be part of the Tour.

"You want to make the Asian tournaments (bigger) events and I believe they're going to add another couple in the short term to try to have four or five in Asia.

"It looks like to me they trying to have an Asian swing. They are wanting to have a non-calendar year, which means you've got to change the Q-school."

Mickelson said he had no problem with Woods and others taking appearance fees and skipping US PGA events, noting that US PGA prize money was generally larger than the purses being played for in other events.

"It's great for players like Tiger to go to Abu Dhabi and start to bring awareness to the game in the Middle East," Mickelson said.

"If you're trying to knock appearance fees, then I think you're being illogical… it's going to be part of the game if we want to increase the awareness throughout the world and grow it globally."

Australia's Geoff Ogilvy, whose homeland has a host of events during what would be a down time on the US schedule, says the Asian events will draw more top players and players will see their off-season pinched a bit.

"Definitely, if it does go ahead, more guys will play in the fall. There's just no way they won't," Ogilvy said.

"More guys will make the trip to Malaysia. Anyone who I imagine gets into that Shanghai tournament will probably go because it's $7.5 million. If it's a money list tournament, they'll go.

"There will be a feeling, especially the top 50 players, will be like, 'When do I get a chance to take time off?' But the reality is I've never felt much of an off-season anyway."

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