The 2019 Puerto Rico Open field appears to be a byproduct of time travel
The PGA Tour returns to Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017, making the tournament a celebration of sorts. Even if the field is, well, less than celebrated. At least in present times.
Since its debut in 2008, the Puerto Rico Open has been an alternate event on tour, played against the WGC-Championship or WGC-Match Play. Meaning, most of the game's best were unable to tee it up at Coco Beach Golf Course. Not that it mattered: the Puerto Rico Open gained a reputation as a stage for breakthrough, with Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau among the fledgling talents who found tour success through the tournament.
That prospect still exists for this edition for the Puerto Rico Open—the field includes several up-and-coming players to follow, including college All-American Wyndham Clark, former U.S. Amateur champion Curtis Luck, English standout Sam Horsfield and Australia's Cameron Davis. But because of the condensed nature of the new PGA Tour schedule, a large contingent of tour personalities not playing in Mexico have passed on a trip to Río Grande.
In order then to fill out the field, a number of players from yesteryear received an invite to compete. If you're wondering why they received a call instead of up-and-coming Web.com Tour players (the developmental tour is off this week), it boils down to two exemptions in the tour priority ranking:
—Beyond 150th on Prior Season's FEC Points List. Past Champions, Team Tournament Winners, and Veteran Members Beyond 150 on the FedExCup Points List.
— Past Champion Members: If not otherwise eligible and if needed to fill the field, Past Champion members, in order of the total number of cosponsored. If two or more players are tied, the player who is higher on the PGA TOUR Career Money List shall be eligible.
And we're not just talking about your Graeme McDowells or Chad Campbells. We're referring to players that, essentially, are no longer considered active on tour. As you'll see, the list is both long in accomplishments...and in the tooth:
Heath Slocum (45) — A four-time tour winner, Slocum hasn't finished inside the FedEx Cup top 125 since 2012.
Charlie Wi (47) — Wi told Golf Digest he was retiring in 2017, but has made 10 starts since hanging 'em up.
David Duval (47) — The former World No. 1 and current Golf Channel broadcaster has made a total of 20 starts the last five years.
Stuart Appleby (47) — A nine-time winner on tour, Appleby is nearing $30 million career earnings, yet has only breached the FedEx Cup top 100 once this decade.
Robert Allenby (47) — More known as a wedding officiant than a golfer as of late, his last top-25 finish coming in the 2014-2015 campaign.
Jonathan Kaye (48) — A two-time winner on tour, Kaye has played in a mere three tour events in the last eight years.
Frank Lickliter (49) — He's made more than 460 career starts on tour. However, he hasn't posted a top-10 since 2006.
Tim Herron (49) — "Lumpy" has more than $19 million in career earnings and has made 32 starts since 2016, but only one top-10 in the last seven years.
Dicky Pride (49) — Pride has made 472 starts on tour, astonishing considering he's finished in the FedEx Cup 125 just once since its inception in 2007.
Chris Smith (49) — Winner of the 2002 Buick Classic, Smith has a lone top-10 since 2005.
Rod Pampling (49) — Was an unexpected winner of the 2016 Shriners; has not made a top-15 finish since.
Angel Cabrera (49) — The two-time major champ has just one top-10 since 2014, and made only five starts on tour last summer.
Omar Uresti (50) — The controversial "club pro" made three cuts on tour last year, although hasn't placed in the top 25 since 2010.
Ken Duke (50) — Owner of one of the best rounds in PGA Tour history, Duke has been competitive in recent years but hasn't made the tour's postseason since 2015.
Retief Goosen (50) — Owner of two U.S. Open titles and 36 worldwide wins, Goose had four top-25s on tour last year.
Robert Gamez (50) — The 1990 rookie of the year hasn't made a cut since 2013.
Spike McRoy (50) — Winner of the 2002 B.C. Open, McRoy hasn't held full-time tour status since 2004.
Todd Hamilton (53) — The 2004 Open champ has played on the senior circuit since 2015; his last cut on tour came in 2014.
Guy Boros (54) — In his sixth year on the PGA Tour Champions, Boros has made just nine starts on the PGA Tour since 2010.
Neal Lancaster (56) — Now in his eighth year playing the 50-and-older circuit, Lancaster made 579 starts in his PGA Tour career, with his last top-10 coming in 2007.