On Tuesday the toughest pro tour to break into will start the final process of finding their new members for 2018.
A field of seventy-eight players will begin the conlcuding stage of the of the PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying tournament in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In the desert sun the players (it includes many who have won PGA TOUR and International events) will chase five very coveted spots on the 2018 circuit. Those finishing in 6th to 30th spot earn associate membership status. That basically amounts to being able to play in the Monday qualifying tournaments without pre-qualifying. They’ll also earn a small cheque to help offset their costs.
Amongst those teeing it up at the TPC Scottsdale Champions course will be two Canadians, one with plenty of PGA TOUR Champions experience while another will be trying to make his mark as a rookie in the senior set.
British Columbia’s Jim Rutledge is the veteran of the duo. The Victoria resident has made some 115 starts on the PGA TOUR Champions since 2010. His best season was in 2013 when he placed 44th on the tour’s money list. He made 22 of 23 cuts that season. Since embarking on his loop amongst the older hands there have been a lot of qualifying rounds needed to make the field some years. At 58, after two years with only nine starts combined, he hopes to rectify that with a top five finish this week.
Getting a fresh look at the world of touring golf amongst the advanced crowd will be Danny King of Aurora, Ontario. The highly regarded PGA of Canada member (Director of Instruction at the Magna Golf Academy) is currently ranked 4th in the RBC player rankings for the club professionals and has been looking ahead to his opportunity to join the PGA TOUR Champions for several years.
The time during his four year plan leading into this year has included many awards and victories, all signs that he has the game to compete. With 40 plus wins in his professional career he has the potential, like Rutledge, to finish in the top five this week.
Both players get their first of four rounds of PGA TOUR Champions final qualifying started at 9:40 a.m. local time on opposite sides of the golf course.