By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.com
Five Things to Know for 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season
The PGA TOUR qualification system enters a new era in 2023, with the Korn Ferry Tour’s reimagined, cumulative season-long points race at the forefront.
Since 2013, the Korn Ferry Tour had provided 25 PGA TOUR cards via the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, with another 25 cards available via the three-event Korn Ferry Tour Finals Points List. This era is no longer, as “The Finals 25” has been sunsetted.
Thirty TOUR cards are now available via the season-long points race, in addition to 10 cards allocated to the DP World Tour and five cards (and ties) via Final Stage of Q-School. The top finisher on the PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking will earn TOUR membership upon college graduation, as well.
The 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season is set to commence later this month at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, Jan. 15-18. The Korn Ferry Tour’s 33rd season will feature 26 events, culminating with 30 TOUR cards awarded at the conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance, contested Oct. 5-8 at Victoria National GC in southern Indiana.
As always, the Korn Ferry Tour features an eclectic mix of hungry young stars fighting to achieve their PGA TOUR dreams, alongside a contingent of wily veterans chasing a TOUR return.
Here are Five Things to Know for the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour season.
1. Reimagined Finals format
In 2013, the Korn Ferry Tour Finals were introduced as a season-ending series to determine 25 PGA TOUR cards, in addition to 25 cards allocated via the Regular Season. This system brought together Nos. 26-75 on the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season Points List, Nos. 126-200 on the FedExCup standings, non-members and medical extensions in a race for 25 cards. The top 25 on the Regular Season Points List, having already secured TOUR membership, played to improve their spot on the Priority Ranking.
This system is no longer. Effective in 2023, Korn Ferry Tour Finals fields will be derived from the season-long standings, with elimination each week until 30 TOUR cards are finalized at season’s end.
A key distinction: the previous Finals structure did not feature elimination; the new Finals structure does feature elimination.
The four Finals events will feature $1.5 million purses and award 600 points to each winner. The preceding 22 events on the schedule will have a minimum purse of $1 million – a 67% increase from 2021 to 2023 – and award 500 points to winners.
Here’s a look at the 2023 Korn Ferry Tour Finals schedule, with dates, locations and field sizes.
|Field size||Date||Tournament||City, State||Purse|
|156||Aug. 24-27||Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron||Boise, Idaho||$1.5M|
|144||Sept. 14-17||Simmons Bank Open for the Snedeker Foundation||College Grove, Tennessee||$1.5M|
|120||Sept. 21-24||Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship||Columbus, Ohio||$1.5M|
|75 (no cut)||Oct. 5-8||Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance||Newburgh, Indiana||$1.5M|
Players who fall short of a TOUR card via the season-long race will have an opportunity to earn TOUR status via Q-School, as the top five finishers (and ties) at Final Stage will attain TOUR membership. The most recent Q-School to offer TOUR membership was in 2012.
2. Champions chasing redemption
Several young pros stamped their first TOUR tickets across the 2022 Korn Ferry Tour campaign, with the likes of Justin Suh, Taylor Montgomery, Brandon Matthews and Erik Barnes authoring stories of redemption on various levels.
The page turns to 2023 with several event winners from last season hungry to achieve their #TOURBound moments, including a crop of buzzworthy names from the amateur and collegiate ranks.
After finishing atop the 2022 PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking, University of Texas alum Pierceson Coody moved to the precipice of a TOUR card with a five-stroke win at the Live and Work in Maine Open in just his third professional start. Coody’s results stalled later in the season, though, and he was derailed by a wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship. After a lengthy offseason, he’ll aim to make amends this season, perhaps alongside his twin brother Parker who begins the season with conditional status.
Akshay Bhatia, 20, won the 2022 season-opening The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic but didn’t record another top-10 finish and fell just short of a TOUR card. Norman Xiong, a highly acclaimed college player at the University of Oregon who made just five cuts in his first Korn Ferry Tour season in 2019, made amends with a win in Wichita as a Monday qualifier, but also was without another top-10 and failed to earn a card.
In all, seven Korn Ferry Tour winners from last season are set to return to the circuit in 2023. Armed with the knowledge that they have the tools to deliver down the stretch on Sunday afternoon, they’ll aim to do so again, seeking an added level of consistency to prove the ultimate difference on the season-long points race.
3. Rookies of intrigue
Three of the past four Korn Ferry Tour Player of the Year winners have been rookies on the circuit – Sungjae Im (2018), Scottie Scheffler (2019) and Justin Suh (2022).
And this year, there are plenty of first-year Korn Ferry Tour members primed to follow suit after surviving the proverbial gauntlet of Q-School.
Look no further than Chris Gotterup, the 2022 University of Oklahoma grad (by way of Rutgers) who won the Haskins and Nicklaus awards as the top player in college golf, then made nine cuts in his first 11 TOUR starts as a pro. Gotterup gained direct access to Final Stage of Q-School and took advantage, finishing T3 to secure 12 guaranteed Korn Ferry Tour starts in 2023.
After a runner-up finish at Final Stage, Chan Kim is set for his first Korn Ferry Tour season at age 32, propelled by a six-stroke win at the Japan Golf Tour’s Casio World Open in November. The Arizona State alum turned pro in 2010 and has won eight Japan Golf Tour titles, in addition to a T11 at The Open in 2017. Now he’s set to turn his full attention to chasing a TOUR card.
Florida Gulf Coast alum Frankie Capan III turned pro last summer and finished T8 at Final Stage after successfully navigating pre-qualifying, First Stage and Second Stage – his mom on the bag the entire way. Longtime APGA pro Willie Mack III finished T12 at Final Stage to earn eight guaranteed starts. 2022 Pepperdine grad Joe Highsmith, who finished No. 10 on the PGA TOUR University Velocity Global Ranking, also earned eight guaranteed starts with a T24 at Final Stage.
4. Major implications
Effective this season, all Korn Ferry Tour players who qualify for and make the cut at the U.S. Open will earn Korn Ferry Tour points for their finish (equivalent breakdown to FedExCup points). Historically, several Korn Ferry Tour members qualify for the U.S. Open each year via Final Qualifying, but previously without a reward on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List. That will change for 2023 and beyond.
“I think it’s an awesome change,” said Taylor Montgomery, who narrowly missed a PGA TOUR card in 2020-21 after competing in the 2021 U.S. Open, then earned his TOUR card in 2022. “At a U.S. Open, you want the best players in the world, and a lot of the best players in the world are on the Korn Ferry Tour.”
As has long been the case, the season-long points winner will earn fully exempt TOUR status and a spot in THE PLAYERS Championship for the following year.
Additionally, the season-long points winner will qualify for the 2024 U.S. Open, the second consecutive year in which this criterion is applied. (2022 points winner Justin Suh has qualified for the 2023 U.S. Open at Los Angeles CC in his native California.)
5. New venues
Veteran pros traditionally have the upper hand in early-week preparation, able to utilize notes and accrued knowledge from years past. The rookies will have an even playing field, though, with three new tournaments in 2023.
The Astara Chile Classic will be contested at Prince of Wales CC in Santiago, Chile; March 30-April 2. This marks a return to a past venue, as the circuit’s Chile Classic was played from 2012-2015 (the first three years at Prince of Wales CC), with champions including Kevin Kisner in 2013 and Adam Hadwin in 2014.
The Compliance Solutions Championship will be played at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman, Oklahoma; June 22-25. The facility, home to the University of Oklahoma Sooners, was built on land that served as a U.S. Navy recreational facility in the early 1940s. The course plays frequent host to NCAA Regional Championships competition.
The final event before the Korn Ferry Tour Finals will also be a new event, with the Magnit Championship contested at Metedeconk National GC in Jackson Township, New Jersey; Aug. 17-20. This will mark the Korn Ferry Tour’s first event in New Jersey since 1997, with players vying to finish the week in the top 156 on the Points List to qualify for the Finals-opening Albertsons Boise Open presented by Chevron.
The UNC Health Championship presented by STITCH (formerly the REX Hospital Open) will also feature a new venue, as the Country Club at Wakefield Plantation is replaced by nearby Raleigh CC.