There aren't that many ways to earn a PGA Tour card. Win a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. Finish in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup. Get through the Web.com Tour or the Web.com Tour Finals.
However, for PGA Tour veterans with a long, accomplished record of competing on the biggest pro tour in the world, the PGA Tour offers special one-time exemptions for their all-time greats. These exemptions, which a player can use one time each, afford a struggling veteran player with a special opportunity to maintain status on the PGA Tour when things get lean.
Two of these one-time exemptions are based on the all-time PGA Tour money list.
One-time exemptions for money
Players who are ranked in the top 50 of the all-time PGA Tour money list can use a special, one-time exemption for one season which puts them in priority ranking category No. 11a, putting them ahead of plenty of exempt players, including those who finished in the top 125 of the prior season's FedEx Cup points list.
The other exemption is more difficult to attain, but the top 25 players in the all-time PGA Tour money list can use this special, one-time exemption. These players are in category No. 11b, the same as the players using the one-time top-50 all-time PGA Tour earnings exemption.
Now, here's the thing. Players who are in the top 25 on the all-time PGA Tour earnings can use each exemption. It's not an either-or proposition. So, a player ranked No. 20 on the PGA Tour all-time earnings list could use their top-25 exemption in one season and their top-50 exemption for a whole other season. The kicker is a player has to know when to use the exemptions. Typically, it's a good idea to use the top-25 exemption first because players could fall out of the top-25 in any given season, but it's practically impossible for a player to fall out of the top 25 and the top 50 in the same season.
One-time exemption for cuts made
The PGA Tour created a new one-time special exemption for the 2018-2019 season. It's for players who have made at least 300 PGA Tour cuts in their career. J.J. Henry was the first player to use the exemption, which places him in priority category No. 26, along with the graduates from the Web.com Tour and Web.com Tour Finals in the prior season. Players who use this exemption are subject to the PGA Tour reshuffles, which are based on total FedEx Cup points earned to each checkpoint in the season.