Korn Ferry Tour to resume 2020 season in June, but promotions to the PGA Tour might be in jeopardy
The good news for Korn Ferry Tour players: They have a new date to restart a season put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bad news: It’s unclear whether the top performers on the developmental tour will ultimately earn PGA Tour cards for the 2020-’21 season.
The PGA Tour outlined a new schedule for the rest of the season on Thursday morning, with play on the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour set to resume on June 11. The first Korn Ferry Tour event will be a new tournament at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye Course in Ponte Vedra Beach. It does not yet have a listed name or sponsor.
The 2020 KFT season will then include 10 subsequent events, provided no additional changes need to be made as the officials listen to health and safety directives from local and state governments. With the six events that had already been contested before the season was halted on March 12 due to the coronavirus, that would leave the tour with a 17-tournament schedule, down from the original 28.
In a typical year, the top 25 finishers on the Korn Ferry Tour points list after the final regular-season event (WinCo Foods Portland Open) earn PGA Tour cards for the following season. Players in the top 75 in points also then qualify to play in the three-tournament Korn Ferry Tour Finals (Albertsons Boise Open, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and the Korn Ferry Tour Championship), where they compete along with 75 PGA Tour members who finished Nos. 126-200 on the FedEx Cup points list. Then the top 25 players of those 150 competing in the three KFT Finals events also earn PGA Tour cards.
The condensed KFT schedule, however, might cause officials to modify how they allocate PGA Tour cards, or even keep from handing them out this season.
On a conference call with reporters, PGA Tour Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis explained that the Tour still has to determine how it’s handling the status of PGA Tour members who finish outside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list. Potentially, the Tour could allow those players to maintain their PGA Tour status, in some capacity, for the next season. If that happened, Dennis said, it could have a trickle-down effect on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“We’ve looked at one option where there would be a hybrid model, I’d call it, where we would reward all of the players on the PGA Tour this year based on their play but find a way to also, for those who didn’t make the top 125, retain some type of access into the next season,” Dennis said. “And then that would flow down to the Korn Ferry Tour and how the graduates would morph between their seasons in a hybrid way, as well.”
On the call with Dennis was Andy Pazder, PGA Tour chief tournaments and competitions officer, who reiterated how that scenario would greatly affect the Korn Ferry Tour.
“If there is a scenario where we carry eligibility from the PGA Tour over to the following season,” Pazder said, “that will likely have a profound impact on the Korn Ferry Tour eligibility system and could go as far as preventing promotions from the Korn Ferry Tour, and their eligibility would then have to merge into their following season in 2021.”
If that happened, the question then surfaces that if all 2020 Korn Ferry Tour players’ eligibility spilled into the 2021 season, might their points earned in 2020 carry over into 2021 as well? Or might the top finishers at the end of the 2020 KFT regular season receive some guarantee starts on the PGA Tour in 2020-’21 without being full members?
And what of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals? The three tournaments are all still listed on the KFT schedule, but will PGA Tour players be in those fields?
Dennis and Pazder did not have any more specifics on Thursday. But with the re-start to the season still roughly two months away, presumably there’s time to determine just how the KFT season will proceed.