Traverse City's Ryan Brehm gets good news: He gets to keep PGA Tour card for 2020-21
Ryan Brehm got the memo from the PGA Tour on Thursday afternoon.
There was a lot of info in there, and plenty to digest, but he got the gist of what mattered most — the Traverse City resident will get to keep his PGA Tour card for the 2020-21 season.
The PGA Tour has been shut down for nearly two months amid the COVID-19 pandemic and, while preparing to restart in June, there will be a much more condensed schedule, limiting the opportunities for players such as Brehm to keep their status.
That situation forced the PGA Tour's hand to try and make things right. Players who are exempt for 2019-20 will also be exempt for 2020-21.
"We are definitely excited about it," Brehm said Thursday night, from his home in northern Michigan. "I mean, I think this is obviously a crap situation, and I think they had to weigh both sides of it. They had to come up with something that was feasible for everyone.
"You want to make it fair for everyone involved, and there were a lot of events we were planning on getting into that we're just not going to get into."
Typically, players on the PGA Tour must finish in the top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list to retain their playing status for the following season.
Brehm, 34, a Mount Pleasant native and Michigan State alum, played 13 tournaments before the shut down and was 194th in the FedEx Cup standings before the shutdown.
The shutdown has canceled 10 tournaments, including the British Open, and leaves 14 for the rest of the season — in 13 competitive weeks — and that includes the rescheduled PGA Championship, a World Golf Championship event, and the three-tournament FedEx Cup playoffs. Given Brehm isn't qualified for the marquee tournaments, he could be down to eight possible tournaments, and that includes Jack Nicklaus' high-profile Memorial, which is a tough field for a player with Brehm's status to crack.
The PGA Tour has announced plans to restart June 11-14 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. It has moved Detroit's Rocket Mortgage Classic, the fourth event back, to July 2-5. The first four tournaments, at least, will be played with no fans.
The memo Thursday is tough news for players on the Korn Ferry Tour, the PGA Tour's feeder tour. They now will have to wait another year to get their full-time PGA Tour cards. Typically, the top 25 at the end of each season get PGA Tour cards, as Brehm accomplished last year. Petoskey's Joey Garber, who was on the PGA Tour last season, is back on the Korn Ferry Tour.
"It's just unforeseen circumstances," said Brehm, who is in his second stint on the PGA Tour and certainly can sympathize with Korn Ferry players like Garber. "We had to make the best with what we had. I know they worked tirelessly and a lot of players were involved in the decision, and all in all, I think it's the best you can do in that situation.
"The bottom line is, we're gonna have our opportunities, and we're just gonna need to capitalize on it."
The PGA Tour's 2019-20 season runs through early September, with the 2020-21 season starting shortly after. In an odd twist, given rescheduling, next season will see six majors, with the U.S. Open and Masters rescheduled for the fall.
The Champions Tour, the PGA Tour's 50-and-older circuit, is discussing a similar proposal, which would benefit Lake Orion's Tom Gillis. The LPGA Tour hasn't announced anything official yet, but any similar decision would benefit Michigan State alums Sarah Burnham and Liz Nagel.
The LPGA Tour plans to restart July 15-18 with the Meijer Classic outside Grand Rapids, while the Champions Tour plans to resume July 31-Aug. 2 with The Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc.