Keeping a card takes more money than ever

TUCKER'S TOWN, Bermuda (AP) — Brett Quigley figured his PGA Tour card was safe for next year when he left the Deutsche Bank Championship the first week of September and had surgery on his right knee to repair torn cartilage.

He was at No. 109 on the money list with $717,411.

Darren Clarke finished at No. 125 last year with $660,898. Tour officials figured $700,000 would be enough this year, although there was some uncertainty with the reconfigured schedule putting seven events of the Fall Series after the Tour Championship.

Not many saw this coming.

In four weeks since the FedEx Cup ended, Quigley has fallen 15 spots to No. 124. He is $358 ahead of Alex Cejka, and $22,131 ahead of Craig Kanada. And with his season over, he has nowhere to go but down.

"It's been unbelievable," Quigley said Monday. "I haven't seen any golf the last three weeks, but I've got people calling me with the results. 'You're down to 121. You're down to 124.' I thought anything over $700,000 was safe. Obviously, it moved a bunch."

It's almost enough for Quigley to enter a tournament on wounded knee.

"I'm chomping at the bit to play," he said. "But just walking with (daughter) Lily for 45 minutes I'm pretty sore. I couldn't imagine playing five hours for five days in a row. I know I'm not ready to play."

He said he would take a minor medical exemption, which will give him as many as seven tournaments next year to make up the difference between his $717,411 and whatever winds up being the earnings for No. 125.

The change has even astounded tour officials, who were trying to figure out what happened.

"I was surprised," said Andy Pazder, the tour's vice president of competition. "We saw something in the $700,000 range, and that number has come and gone. It's moving toward $750,000 and beyond. I can't explain it without having analyzed some things. The fields being different, maybe more guys are getting in."

None of the four winners - Steve Flesch, Chad Campbell, Justin Leonard and George McNeill - were outside the top 125 when they won. But six players already have moved inside the top 125, with Michael Allen making the biggest move from No. 154 to No. 98.

And there are still three tournaments remaining.

Money for No. 125 increased by $3,474 in 2005 and then by a more substantial $34,162 in 2006. The increase in total prize money on the PGA Tour is about $10 million, not much different from the past two years.

"The right guys are making the money," Quigley said. "And some of the bigger guys are not winning, and certainly not playing the last few tournaments."

ELS DILEMMA: Ernie Els won the HSBC World Match Play Championship for the seventh time, and enough of the mammoth prize money was applied to the European Tour money list that he surged ahead of Padraig Harrington on the Order of Merit.

Whether he stays there is out of his control.

Els recently signed a three-year deal to play in the Singapore Open, not realizing it will be held the same time (Nov. 1-4) as the season-ending Volvo Masters on the European Tour.

Harrington is $307,745 behind Els, and will be at Valderrama for the tour finish. Justin Rose is in third place, $352,225 behind, and he will have two starts remaining on the European schedule, including this week in Portugal.

"How can I say it? The end of the year, you've got the wheelbarrow out. You want to cash in a little bit," Els said of the appearance fees he'll get from the Singapore Open. "It just happened that this tournament is the same week. I didn't know before we signed that last year. It's unfortunate. I don't know how it slipped their radar."

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