In a change designed to reward nine good months more than six good days, the PGA Tour is taking away five cards from Q-school and giving those spots to the Nationwide Tour.
Previously, only the top 15 from the developmental tour money list earned their exempt cards on the PGA Tour. That will increase to the top 20 for the 2003 season.
Only the top 30 and ties -- instead of the top 35 -- will advance from Q-school.
'There is a higher overall level of consistency displayed by those who have gone through the Nationwide Tour for a year, in terms of their ability to secure their cards,' PGA Tour spokesman Bob Combs said.
The numbers back that up.
Ten of the 36 players (28 percent) who came out of Q-school last year finished in the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list and retained their cards. Seven of the top 15 players (47 percent) from the Nationwide Tour kept their cards.
The trend is even more notable over the last 12 years.
According to data kept by the PGA Tour, 43 percent of all Nationwide Tour graduates finished in the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list the following year, compared with 27 percent of Q-school grads.
That's not to suggest Q-school grads don't stand a chance.
This year's class was particularly strong, with four tournament winners -- Bob Burns, Paul Tataurangi, Luke Donald and Ian Leggatt -- and two others (Pat Perez, Peter Lonard) who finished in the top 50 on the money list.