PGA Tour Should Let 17 Year Old Play
by Jeff Skinner
Tim Finchem likes to think that the PGA Tour is the model for all golf tours. And he is probably right, after all the PGA Tour is where golfers from all over the world want to ply their trade and of course there are the weekly payouts that dwarf the other tours.
With the PGA Tour Q-School in the books it is time that the PGA Tour took a page out of the LPGA Tour’s book. Last season Lexi Thompson won on the LPGA and that normally would have given her automatic membership on the LPGA. But because she was only sixteen and the LPGA has a membership rule that requires a member to be 18 years old Thompson wasn’t offered full membership on tour. She had to petition the LPGA to waive the rule in order for her to become a full member. Mike Whan and his crew knew what Lexi meant to the tour and granted her request.
The PGA Tour now has a similar situation with 17 year old Si Woo Kim earning his PGA Tour card by finishing in the top 25 at Q-School. But, just like the LPGA, the PGA Tour has a minimum age requirement of 18 years of age.
As it stands now, Kim would be able to play as a member on the tour on June 28th when he turns 18. Until then he could play as many as 12 tournaments through sponsor’s exemptions, top tens and could also try to Monday qualify each week at the tournaments he did not receive an exemption. But that seems like an unfair fate for a player that followed the rules and went through the most grueling of all the ways to qualify as a member.
If the PGA Tour allows an underage player to compete in Q-School they need to be prepared to bend the rules if that player is successful. Now Kim isn’t a powerful force and a big name in the game like Thompson was and he may not be that appealing to tournament directors looking to offer their sponsor’s exemptions to proven, popular players. So he may not get many chances to play before his birthday. If that’s the case then Kim will only be eligible to play in six official PGA tournaments before the FedEx Cup playoffs begin. That’s an unjust situation for a Q-School winner.
Finchem should make the call as soon as Kim asks for his exemption and allow the kid his chance on the PGA Tour. It’s the right thing to do and Kim earned every bit of that full membership on the PGA Tour.