PGA Tour Fall
11 surprising names fighting for their PGA Tour cards this fall
The PGA Tour’s reimagined fall schedule will feature players who finished outside the top 70 in the FedEx Cup fighting for status and priority for 2024 … but not all will be fighting for their tour cards. Justin Thomas missed out on the postseason, but his 2022 PGA Championship win ensures his membership for some time. Ludvig Aberg’s card for next year is secured thanks to the new PGA Tour University program. And though a number of other notable names like Adam Scott, Billy Horschel and Shane Lowry missed the playoffs this summer, all FedEx Cup points from the 2022-’23 PGA Tour season carry over to the fall, with those inside the top 125 at the end of the fall earning full status for next season. Meaning, those entering this week’s Fortinet Championship inside the top 100 are almost locks to secure their cards for 2024.
However, a number of notables are also on the bubble. Here are 11 players who are entering the FedEx Cup Fall fighting for full-time tour status.
The No. 1 ranked putter on tour has been out since June due to a left shoulder injury, although he is scheduled to make his return this week in Napa. At No. 108, McNealy’s status should be safe. Luckily, he tends to play well this time of the year, finishing T-18 or better four times last fall.
The 36-year-old—who is consistently named as one of the nicest guys in golf—enters the fall ranked 116th in the standings. That he’s here despite 18 missed cuts in 29 starts (including five MCs in his last seven outings) is a testament to a T-4 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and a T-9 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Malnati, who currently serves on the tour’s Player Advisory Council, does have some hope: The Sanderson Farms Championship, site of Malnati’s lone tour win in 2015 along with a runner-up performance in 2020, is the second stop on the fall slate.
Pan’s career highs have been high: A win at the 2019 RBC Heritage and appearance on the International Presidents Cup team; a top-10 finish at the 2020 Masters; a bronze medal at the 2021 Olympics. However, a wrist injury knocked Pan out for five months, translating to just 13 starts on the season. Though he logged back-to-back top-five finishes at the Nelson (fourth) and RBC Canadian Open (T-3), he’ll still need a handful of good showings in the upcoming months to stay inside the top 125.
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Walker has finished 158th or worse in each of the last four tour seasons as he’s battled back from Lyme disease. He actually backdoored his way into status this year thanks to a number of LIV Golf defectors allowing the former PGA champ to play on a career money exemption. For the most part it wasn’t a pretty campaign; Walker missed eight cuts in his first 11 starts and 15 of 25 for the year while ranking 147th in scoring. Yet he begins the fall season 124th in the FedEx Cup thanks to a nice spring stretch, with four T-25s in a five-event span, and is a past winner at this week’s Napa stop.
The man is no stranger to the bubble. Last year, Smotherman seemingly missed out on his tour card in agonizing fashion with a double bogey on his final hole at the Wyndham Championship … only to receive a reprieve thanks to a number of players leaving for LIV Golf. It was mostly a disappointing sophomore campaign on tour for Smotherman, ranking 144th in strokes gained and 135th in scoring, and posting just one top-20 finish on the season. But he made the most of that performance, a T-5 at the Mexico Open, putting him right on No. 125 to begin the fall.
Piercy was limited to just a dozen starts due to injury, but the starts he did make were not pretty, missing the cut in five of his last six starts. The 44-year-old veteran hasn’t finished outside the FedEx Cup top 125 since 2014, and as a four-time tour winner hee would have some status next season.
Higgs missed out on full-time status last year, playing this season off the No. 126-150 eligibility list. He spent most of the year inside the top 125 thanks to a good end to the fall and a solid winter, but Higgs starts this week at No. 132, missing eight of his last 11 cuts and his last four in a row. For Higgs to make a move over the next seven events he’ll need to figure out Fridays: Despite ranking 35th in Round 1 scoring, Higgs ranks 177th in Round 2 average.
A former PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Hadley missed eight of his first 11 cuts. After making the weekend at both the Honda Classic and Players Championship, Hadley proceeded to go on another trunk-slamming stretch, failing to reach Round 3 in six of his next seven starts. So how is the 36-year-old still here? A nice run to end the summer, finishing T-35 or better in five of his last six appearances, highlighted by a T-6 at the Barracuda Championship.
Kizzire hasn’t come close to replicating the success he had at the beginning of the 2017-18 season, where he won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and Sony Open. He also comes into this part of the season cold, missing five of his past six starts. But the fall has been when Kizzire has done his best work, with one of his two top-10s this season coming in autumn.
The former Ryder Cupper played on a top 50 career money exemption this season. However, after missing the cut in 17 of 24 events, he’ll need to get something going this fall to return to full-time status. Three of Moore’s five career tour wins have come in the fall, although two have come at the now defunct CIMB Classic.
The increasingly outspoken critic of the tour finds himself needing a late-season push to retain full-time status, entering the fall ranked 165th in the FedEx Cup standings. He did have a T-6 at the Barracuda Championship in July, but outside of that it has been tough sledding for Hahn, ranking 130th in strokes gained and 150th in scoring.