Anirban Lahiri, Shubhankar Sharma look to gain PGA cards in Korn Ferry series

Anirban Lahiri will tee off with Jonathan Randolph and Jamie Arnold, while Shubhankar Sharma plays with Brady Schnell and Ben Kohles, in the Korn Ferry Series final.

Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri qualified for the Korn Ferry Series final with his 178th finish in the FedExCup standings.   -  Getty Images

For the first time two Indian golfers - Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma - will tee off at the Korn Ferry Series final, known for being the toughest set of tournaments, where the players try to get their PGA Tour cards via a series of three events.

The top-25 in terms of cumulative money from these three events will join the top-25 of the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour. These 50 players will earn cards for the 2019-20 PGA Tour.

While Lahiri qualified for the final series with his 178th finish in the standings (the category is 126th to 200th on FedExCup standings), Sharma comes in as one of the six non-members who had points equivalent to the 126th-200th on the FedExCup standings.

Lahiri will tee off with Jonathan Randolph and Jamie Arnold, who finished in the category of 26th to 75th on Korn Ferry Tour this year, while Sharma plays with Brady Schnell, who was just inside Top-200 on FedExCup standings, and Ben Kohles.

Lahiri, who has played the PGA Tour for the past four years, is in a somewhat similar spot as he was in 2015, the year he broke out on the world scene with two European Tour wins and an entry into the world’s Top-50.

He kept his card till last year and this year a disappointing run saw him finish 178th on the FedExCup standings, forcing him to play the Korn Ferry Final Series.

Sharma, who like Lahiri in 2015, shot to fame with two European Tour wins in 2018 season, attracted a lot of global attention. He did not play the Korn Ferry series last year, but comes this year on the strength of having earned enough points equivalent of FedexCup standing between 126th and 200th despite being a non-member.

In this category he is joined by Justin Harding, whom he pipped to the Asian Tour Order of Merit prize in 2018; David Lipsky, another former Asian Tour No. 1 and the prodigious American Viktor Hovland, who despite four Top-10 finishes in five starts, just missed making the Tour card.

Beginning in 2013, the Korn Ferry Tour became the path to the PGA Tour by awarding all 50 cards for the following tour season.

Shubhankar Sharma comes in to the Korn Ferry Series final as one of the six non-members who had points equivalent to the 126th-200th on the FedExCup standings.   -  GETTY IMAGES


The format

The basic structure remains the same with the top 25 points winners from the Regular Season (The 25) being guaranteed PGA Tour cards for the following PGA Tour season, and 25 additional cards (The Finals 25) being available through the three-tournament Korn Ferry Tour Finals.

The field makeup for the Finals is broken down as follows: the top 75 Points leaders from the Korn Ferry Tour at the end of the Regular Season, PGA Tour members who are 126-200 on the FedExCup points list following the Wyndham Championship, and non-members who would have earned enough FedExCup points to place them 126-200 on the official FedExCup points list.

While the top 25 players from the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season (The 25) will earn their PGA Tour cards, their order of priority won’t be determined until the conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. They will now carry their points into the Finals, and priority will be established on the combination of Regular Season and Finals points.

Of those players from the Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season top-25 list, the No. 1 player at the conclusion of the Finals based on combined Regular Season and Finals points will receive fully exempt status on the PGA Tour.

So any top-25 player can earn the coveted No. 1 position if he performs well enough in the three Finals events. In addition to his PGA TOUR exemption, the No. 1 player receives an exemption into The Players Championship for the upcoming season.

A separate points list for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals will determine the final 25 PGA Tour cards (The Finals 25). The player who earns the most points during the three Finals events (excluding the first 25 from the Regular Season) will earn fully exempt status on the PGA Tour plus an invitation to The Players.

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