THE FALL WINNERS TREND
Among the many goals PGA TOUR players set at the start of their respective seasons, one specific accomplishment is consistent among the hundreds that tee it up: Make it to the TOUR Championship.
Why so important? The season finale at East Lake Golf Club is one of the most exclusive, merit-based tournaments of the PGA TOUR season, as it only extends invitations to the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings.
A spot in the field at East Lake not only grants each player a mathematical chance to be named the season-long FedExCup champion and the $10 million bonus that comes with it, but also provides job security and exemptions into a handful of the big-name events on the calendar.
But with a wraparound season that annually begins in early October, two weeks after the last putt drops at the previous season’s TOUR Championship, patience is certainly a virtue for those players who have aspirations of punching their ticket to Atlanta the following September. And while there are 46 opportunities for a player to climb into the heralded top 30 in the FedExCup standings, a win in one of the seven events in October and November can give a player a huge advantage in the standings before the calendar flips.
Since the wraparound season began in the fall of 2013, 15 of the 27 winners in the fall portion of the schedule went on to qualify for the TOUR Championship, including seven who finished inside the top 10 in the final FedExCup standings.
Among those 15 players is PGA TOUR veteran Pat Perez, who won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba last November and subsequently qualified for the 2017 TOUR Championship for the first time in his career.
“After you win, everything changes,” Perez said. “The fight that I had last year was so good because I played enough and I played hard enough to try to stay in that 30 the whole year so I could get to the TOUR Championship. That's my main goal every year.”
Following the win, Perez jumped to No. 3 in the standings and never fell out of the top 15 all season. And it looks as if the San Diego native is primed for a return trip after capturing this season’s CIMB Classic in October.
So while many continue to circle events like the majors, THE PLAYERS and the World Golf Championships, some players’ season-defining moments are looming in October and November, over 10 months ahead of the season finale in Atlanta.