After coronavirus altered schedule, PGA Tour is guaranteeing players exempt status for next season

With the season having been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the PGA Tour is ensuring that its players can’t lose their Tour cards this year.

The Tour has put a hold on its qualification criteria for eligibility, according to ESPN, which will guarantee any golfer his spot on the Tour during the 2020-21 season even if they fall outside of the top 125 on the FedExCup points list.

"This eligibility update, contingent upon the planned restart of the season at the Charles Schwab Challenge the week of June 8, was deemed the best and most equitable solution for the membership at large after research by our competitions department and significant conversations with the Policy Board and Player Advisory Board," the PGA Tour said in a statement, via ESPN.

The Tour suspended operations after the first round of The Players Championship in March. It announced that it will resume play at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Texas in June, though at least the first four tournaments will be held without fans. The revised schedule will conclude with the Tour Championship on Sept. 7, before three of the four major championships and the Ryder Cup are set to be held. The British Open was the lone major to cancel completely.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

There were more than 1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Thursday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 62,000 confirmed deaths attributed to the virus. The PGA Tour is one of the first sports leagues in the country to attempt to start back up amid the pandemic along with the UFC and NASCAR, which will both attempt to hold events again in May.

How does PGA Tour qualification normally work?

In a normal year, the top 125 players in the FedExCup points list following the Wyndham Championship earn exempt status on the Tour. Those outside of that cutoff, who haven’t earned that status a different way, are out.

There are plenty of other ways to earn exempt status, too. For example, a win at The Masters gives a player a five-year exemption on the Tour, even if they fall outside of the top-125. 

Otherwise, players can attempt to re-earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour. That Tour is set to resume on June 11, too, however will not have a qualifying tournament this fall. Instead, the top-10 on its season-long money list will receive limited status on the PGA Tour next season, per the report. 

Tiger Woods hits his drive on the third hole during fourth round play at the Dell Technologies Match Play Championship golf tournament, Saturday, March 30, 2019, in Austin, Texas. (AP/Eric Gay)

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