The new Chiquita Classic golf tournament, which will be played at the Club at Longview for the first time next week, is already making a big move.
The Web.com Tour event will be part of the tour’s new four-event playoff series beginning in 2013 that will determine which players earn PGA Tour privileges the following season.
The event will debut Sept. 27-30 at Longview and next year will move into its new role as part of a reorganized conclusion to the developmental tour’s season.
“With the introduction of this new qualifying process and four Finals events in 2013, the Web.com Tour is about to embark on the most exciting era in its 23-year history,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.
“The Web.com Tour will clearly become the pathway to the PGA Tour, with season-long performance serving as the benchmark for securing one’s tour card. The Web.com Tour season promises to end in a very heightened fashion next September and we are thrilled to include the Chiquita Classic as a Web.com Tour finals event.”
Under the new format, the top 50 money winners on the Web.com regular season money list, players who finished 126th through 200th on the PGA Tour money list and non-PGA Tour members who finished between 126 and 200 on the FedEx Cup points list will be part of a four-event playoff to determine who moves on to the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season (which will begin in October).
The top 25 money winners on the Web.com Tour will automatically get their PGA Tour cards while the next 25 will be determined by cumulative money won over the final four playoff events. How the players finish on the four-event finale will determine their priority for tournament entry on the PGA Tour. The season-long money winner and the top earner in the four concluding events will be fully exempt for 2013-14 including The Players Championship.
On this year’s PGA Tour money list, Retief Goosen, Jerry Kelly, Justin Leonard, Y.E. Yang, John Daly and Stewart Cink are among the players outside the top 125 though fall series events remain for them.
The Chiquita Classic will follow the Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind., and precede the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio. The tour finale has not been announced but is expected to be played at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
It’s a significant move for the Chiquita Classic, which relocated from Cincinnati to Charlotte this year.
When the tour began finalizing plans for the new schedule, Chiquita officials were immediately interested in being a part of the finale. Details were put in place over the past month.
“Coincidentally, we had a September date and from a timing perspective, everything pointed toward it being great for us to be part of it,” tournament director Thomas Federl said. “We need to be part of this playoff series.
“For anything short of a PGA Tour event, this is as good as it gets.”
Federl and Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita Brands chairman and CEO, both emphasized the company’s interest in giving back to the community. In its first two years, the Chiquita Classic has raised nearly $400,000 for charitable organizations.
This year’s Chiquita Classic begins with a pro-am Monday at Longview. PGA Tour player Robert Karlsson, a Longview member and resident, will play in the Chiquita Classic beginning next Thursday.