Welcome to the Reshuffle List. This twice-monthly column will look at how some of the PGA Tour's youngest players (and occasionally some old veterans) are doing in their fight to maintain their PGA Tour cards.
A "Reshuffle List" primer before we begin:
Twenty-five golfers earn PGA Tour cards every year through qualifying school (Q-school), while another 25 get them through the developmental Nationwide Tour (golf's version of Triple-A).
Those golfers - minus the Nationwide Tour's leading money winner, who is exempted (J.J. Killeen in 2011) - are listed in order of finish alternating between the Nationwide Tour money list and Q-school on what is called the "Reshuffle List."
The Reshuffle List sets the priority for which of these 49 golfers play in PGA Tour events.
The list derives its name from the fact that five times during the season (roughly eight weeks apart), the list "reshuffles," according to golfers' results in the previous segment. The better a golfer performs, the higher on the list he'll rank, and the more events he can enter. Likewise, golfers who play poorly move down the list.
This article will analyze the fallout from each "reshuffle" and look at other rookies and non-rookies whose tour cards might be in jeopardy.
John Huh: Huh arguably had the most impressive story out of Q-school, persevering through all three grueling stages to attain his Tour card. And he is having by far the best season of this year's rookie calls, as he's the only first-year player to notch a victory, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February. He followed that up by getting himself into a playoff at the Valero Texas Open, and has added two other top-10s to help amass more than $2 million in just his first 15 PGA Tour events. Most important, the victory means that Huh has his tour card locked up through 2014 and has graduated off the Reshuffle List. And if all that wasn't enough, he's got one of the best nicknames in all of sports: Johnny Question Mark.
Sang-Moon Bae: Bae, who also earned tour card through Q-School last December, has enjoyed a strong start to his rookie campaign. In fact, through two reshuffles, he tops the list. In 15 events so far he has a playoff loss at the Transitions Championship with a fifth and a 14th. He's already made nearly $970,000 and his 45th-place standing in the FedEx Cup points race puts him in prime position to worry not about his 2013 PGA Tour card, but instead the $10 million FedEx Cup prize.
Harris English: English came to the PGA Tour from the Nationwide Tour and, like Bae, is having a nice first five months on tour: two top-10s, six top-25s and more than $800,000 earned. His 59th-place position on the FedEx Cup points list will also most likely have him seeing green come early fall. English, though, has learned some hard lessons about Sunday pressure on the PGA Tour. At the Honda Classic, he was in the final group Sunday, alongside eventual winner Rory McIlroy, with a chance for victory but shot 77 to fall to 18th. That experience should serve him well, though, and he's bound to improve upon his seventh position on the Reshuffle List when the next reshuffle happens in two weeks.
Bud Cauley: Cauley is not on the Reshuffle List because he qualified for the PGA Tour the hard way - through actual tour events. After turning pro right before the 2011 U.S Open, Cauley garnered, beginning with the Open, finishes of 63-24-4-13-MC-52-3-15, which earned him $735,150. That was good enough to finish inside the top 125 on the money list, thus automatically earning him his 2012 tour card. If he wants to keep that card for 2013, he needs to make good use of his opportunities this season. That's been the case for the most part. While Cauley has not done anything flashy this season, he's racked up made cuts and money. He has two top-10s and five top-25s in 15 starts to his name, earning $756,922, good for 60th on the money list.
Erik Compton: More people know Compton's off-the-course story - he's a two-time heart transplant recipient - than they do his on-the-course game, but Compton brings a solid swing to the first tee every week. His 2012 has not been overly stellar (23rd on the Reshuffle List), his best finish a tie for 26th at the Honda Classic. But his 10 made cuts in 15 events are good enough to put $206,188 in the bank and place him 144th on the money list - good, but not great. He needs to play better and get top-15s and top-25s instead of top-40s if he wants to keep his tour card for next year.
Stephen Gangluff: Gangluff started 2012 in an envious place. He finished second at Q-school, which meant he was holding prime real estate at the top of the Reshuffle List. That earned him a number of starts early in the season. The problem? He did nothing with those opportunities. By the first reshuffle eight weeks into the season, his finishes to that point were MC-MC-MC-77-MC-73. That meant fewer starts were in store, which meant better golf was a must. His subsequent finishes: 71st. And that was the only event he got into, proving how vital it is to maintain a high status on the Reshuffle List. Following the second reshuffle, he was fortunate to get into several tournaments despite dropping farther down the list. Unfortunately, though, his finishes went like this: MC-MC-MC-79. What does this all mean? He's gone from third on the priority list to 44th, staring at a possible additional drop when the next reshuffle occurs next week.
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