By Tim Liotta
Major Exemptions On The Line
The PGA Tour playoffs, the three-tournament, crowning event of the 2022-23 Tour season set to start Thursday, offers exemptions into next year's Masters Tournament, U.S. Open and Open Championship to the 30 players who reach the Tour Finals.
While the playoffs also qualify players into the lucrative, brand-new Signature events, crossing off the need to earn their way into the four major championships on the 2024 schedule is no small bonus prize.
Each of the four major championship winners in 2023 earned their opportunities into those championships through exemptions.
Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka each were exempt because of their previous major championship victories. Rahm was exempt into the 2023 Masters Tournament thanks to his 2021 U.S. Open victory. Koepka was exempt into the 2023 PGA Champioship because he was a past champion (2018, 2019).
Wyndham Clark earned his way into the 123rd U.S. Open, where he won his first major championship, by being one of the top 60 players in the Official Golf Ranking as of May 22, 2023.
Brian Harman was exempt three ways into the 151st Open Championship, in which he won his first major championship at the age of 36 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. One of those exemptions was by being one of the top 30 on the final FedEx Cup list for 2022-23.
Harman also was exempt because he finished in the top 10 in the previous year's Open, and he was ranked in the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking on the week ending May 22, 2023.
This past year Sergio Garcia, a consent presence in major championships for more than two decades, had to Final Qualify for the 123rd U.S. Open, and then failed to qualify for the 151st Open Championship, missing the event for the first time in xx years.
There was a lot of drama surrounding the last-ditch efforts of Justin Thomas and Adam Scott to reach the Tour's post-season.
At the Wyndham Championship, Thomas hit the flagstick on the 72nd hole with a birdie chip that, had it gone in, would have given him the 70th spot. However, because Thomas won the 2022 PGA Championship, he is qualified for all four of the 2024 majors.
Scott also finished one shot shy of qualifying for the 70-player field despite shooting a final-round 7-under-par 63. While Scott remains qualified for the Masters because he is a past champion, and he sits comfortably high enough (39th) in the Official World Golf ranking to be included into next year's majors, he is not assured a spot in the other three just yet.
The 2024 major championship season opens with the 88th renewal of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11-14.
The PGA Championship is once again second on the schedule with the 106th renewal at the Valhalla Golf Club in Lexington, KY, from May 16-19.
The 124th U.S. Open will played on June 13-16 over the No. 2 Course at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, the venue designated the first U.S. Open Anchor site, which will host the championship four times over the next 25 years.
The 152nd Open Championship will conclude the 2024 major championship season by returning to Scotland at Royal Troon in South Ayrshire on July 18-21.