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US PGA rules changes helps overseas golfers

A change in the US PGA Tour's exemption policy is a boost for Australians Greg Chalmers and Robert Allenby in the battle to retain their cards for next year.

For the past few seasons, the top 125 money winners on tour have gained exemption for the following year.

However, the US Tour has just decided to tweak the policy and extend the exemption category by one spot for every non member included in the season's top 125.

At the moment there are four non-members in the top 125 – European tour players Jose Maria Olazabal, Paul Lawrie, Lee Westwood and Colin Montgomerie.

Therefore, at least the top 129 money winners will now earn exemptions for next year, which is good news for Chalmers and Allenby.

With two events left, Chalmers is 116th on the list and probably will remain in the top 125 anyway, even if he doesn't win another dollar. Now, however, he has even more breathing room.

Allenby is more likely to benefit from the policy change, because he is ranked 123rd, just $US15,000 ($22,965) ahead of125th place but $US26,000 ahead of 129th.

"I heard about the change last week. I guess it's good news," Allenby said on the eve of the National Car Rental Golf Classic at Disney World.

Said Chalmers: "I think I'm safe." Even so, he will still play this week, his 10th event in as many weeks.