LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — One player dug his feet into the sand and hit one bunker shot after another, his focus unbroken. A few hundred yards away, another player cast his line into a pond filled with bass next to the 15th tee on the Magnolia Course.
Disney is a vacation for some, a grind for so many others. It’s easy to see who falls into which category.
This is the final PGA Tour event of the year. The top 125 on the money list keep full tour cards, meaning they can play whenever and wherever they want next year except for the majors, World Golf Championships and a few other invitational events that have smaller fields.
What makes a tour card so valuable now is that 2013 is a transition year on the PGA Tour, which translates into a shorter season with fewer opportunities. The regular season will last only about seven months leading into the FedEx Cup playoffs. After that, a new season (2013-14) will start in October.
For the last six years, players who either didn’t get into a lot of tournaments or got off to a slow start could always count on the Fall Series — four tournaments at the back end of the season — to make up ground and get into the top 125. But that opportunity is going away. The Fall Series events, along with two tournaments in Asia, will be the start of the new wraparound season.
Players who finish out of the top 125 can still play, as long as there was room for them at tournaments. They had to get in line behind the fully exempt players, along with 50 others who earned cards through Q-school and the Web.com Tour.
But with more players expected to sign up for more tournaments in the shorter season, playing opportunities could be limited.