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Chill Canada, Weir Still Welcome On The PGA Tour

One blogger wrote that Mike Weir has fallen so far that “he doesn’t have his PGA Tour card anymore.” Another wrote that, “He failed to retain his PGA Tour card.” At, the word was that he had lost his card. A popular golf website indicated that Weir will need sponsor invitations the rest of the year because he didn’t earn enough in the five tournaments he had to retain his fully exempt status. Weir had a medical exemption and had those five tournaments to win $227,000, but he missed the cut in four of the events and won just over $10,000 in the other one.
Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
And these weren’t the only bits of misinformation when it comes to Weir’s status on this year’s PGA Tour. For one thing, he maintains his PGA Tour card. He is a PGA Tour member. He has a card. The mistake is so common it is thought of as true. It’s not.
Weir did lose his fully exempt status. But he won’t need to depend on sponsor invitations. In fact, he said that he wouldn’t be asking sponsors for any invitations. The 40-year-old 2003 Masters champion and winner of seven other PGA Tour events will get into 10-12 tournaments because the 10 grand he has won this year puts him inside the top 150 money-winners based on last year’s list.
Players in the 125-150 category typically get into those 10-12 tournaments. That’s how Weir got into last week’s Puerto Rico Open, the tournament opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship at the Doral Resort in Miami. Weir withdrew after nine holes because of a cyst on his left wrist. He was 5-over par at the time. A week’s rest should be enough for the wrist to heal. If not, he will have the cyst drained.
So where will Weir play next? Assuming his wrist has healed, he will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge March 24-27 in Orlando. But how could he get in there? Surely, he would not be eligible off his position in the 125-150 category on the money list. And he didn’t ask for a sponsor’s exemption.
So, how did he get in, then?
Weir gets into five tournaments because he was a member of the International team in the 2009 Presidents Cup. The PGA Tour lists 31 exemption categories on its priority ranking. This exemption isn’t listed in the PGA Tour media guide. But it’s real and it will get Weir into Bay Hill, the Heritage in Hilton Head Island, S.C., the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, and the AT&T National in Philadelphia. Those are five significant tournaments.
Weir, as a winner of The Masters, has a lifetime exemption there. He will get in the RBC Canadian Open in Vancouver in July off the money list, or, if he doesn’t draw in that way, the sponsor will definitely provide an exemption. The result is that Weir is certain to play a full schedule this year. He won’t be able to control his schedule as well as in previous years. But he will have the chance to compete.
None of this will mean anything, of course, unless Weir starts playing better. Nobody works harder than Weir. He was on the range at The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on the Saturday, after shooting 77-85 in the first and second rounds. Then he entered the Puerto Rico Open. He was busting himself to find his game.
What will happen if Weir doesn’t find the game that propelled him as high as third in the world ranking? What will happen if he doesn’t finish in the top 125 or top 150 money-winners this year?
The answer is simple. Weir can use one exemption off his position in the top 50 career money-winners. He can use another because he is inside the top 25 in that category. Weir was 12th, with $26,809,425, through The Honda Classic. This means that he will be able to control his schedule, and be fully exempt, in 2012 and 2013 no matter how he plays this year.
The conclusion to all this is obvious. Weir hasn’t lost his PGA Tour card, not as long as he paid his $100 annual dues. Tiger Woods pays that, Phil Mickelson pays that, and, presumably, Jack Nicklaus still pays that. Who knows, maybe Doug Ford, the 87-year-old winner of two majors and 19 PGA Tour events, still pays it so that he can retain his PGA Tour membership, and, hence, his PGA Tour card.
Two-time PGA Tour winner Richard Zokol also pays his C-note every year, although he is not playing any tournament golf these days. Zokol got tired of reading and hearing that Weir had lost his PGA Tour card. He contacted a friend at a Vancouver radio station that had made the mistake, and he was invited on to set things right.
Once and for all, Weir will have plenty of tournaments to play this year. He has his PGA Tour card. He has exemptions. Concerned Canadians can relax. So can Weir, as far as having tournaments to play.


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