Jordan Spieth could face a major fine and a three-tournament suspension from the PGA Tour if he doesn’t qualify for the 2018 Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Through three rounds of the rain-plagued BMW Championship near Philadelphia, Spieth is projected to finish 31st in the FedEx Cup standings, missing out on the season finale. In that case, Spieth would fail to satisfy a PGA Tour rule concerning the minimum number of PGA Tour tournaments a player must compete in during a given season, and breaking that rule would subject him to what’s dubbed a “major penalty.”
Under PGA Tour rules, a player who doesn’t have lifetime membership (20 official PGA Tour wins and 15 seasons played) or veteran status (45 years old or older in the current season) or dual PGA Tour-PGA Tour Champions membership has to play a minimum of 15 recognized events and include in those 15 events a tournament they haven’t played in the prior four seasons. Otherwise, a player must compete in 25 or more official events in the current season to be exempt from having to add a new tournament. A player who played in 25 or more official events in the prior season also doesn’t have to add a new tournament.
A number of PGA Tour-recognized events cannot satisfy the new-event requirement, including the four majors, The Players, the four World Golf Championships events, the FedEx Cup playoff events, the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and any first-year official-money event.
In Spieth’s case, he competed in 23 official PGA Tour officials and the Presidents Cup, which counts toward his tally, giving him 24 tournaments. That means Spieth needed to either play at least 25 tournaments this season or the 15 tournaments plus an eligible new event. Spieth didn’t add a new event in the regular season, meaning he needed to play 25 total events. The BMW Championship is his 23rd event, and the Ryder Cup, which counts toward his tally, is the 24th event. Spieth has to advance to East Lake to satisfy the rule.
If the BMW Championship is shortened to 54 holes because of weather, Spieth will be in violation of the rule. Spieth needs the final round to count and to perform well in it to get to East Lake.
Violation is this policy is subject to a “major penalty” according to the Tour, which means a potential minimum $20,000 fine and/or minimum three-tournament suspension.