Does Woody Austin’s win get him into all the majors? How about the Presidents Cup?
Woody Austin’s win last week at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi is about as career-altering as a win could be for longtime PGA Tour veteran.
Entering the event, which was competed opposite the British Open, Austin had virtually zero status on either main PGA Tour or the second-flight Web.com tour.
With seven starts on the main tour in 2012, Austin only cashed checks in two of them to make $122,472 in prize money, well outside the top 150 needed to have any status for 2013. The 49-year-old relied on sponsors’ exemptions and past champion provisions to enter three previous events this year, but he had not made the cut in any of them.
Austin had played well at the Mississippi stop in previous years, finishing tied for 13th in 2012 and 18th in 2011.
His playoff victory comes with plenty of perks aside from the $540,000 in prize money.
Austin now has a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour, and is in Category No. 9 out of 36 on the tour’s priority list to enter events. That’s just behind winners of majors, the Players, Tour Championship, World Golf Championship events and FedEx Cup. That alone gets him into most tournaments he may want to enter.
It also qualifies him for next month’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Austin’s best finish in a major came in that event in 2007 at Southern Hills in Oklahoma when the Derby resident finished second behind Tiger Woods. He’s made eight of nine cuts in previous PGAs — his best track record of the majors.
Austin hasn’t played in any major since the 2009 PGA.
He has work to do to qualify for the other three, however. Since last week’s tour stop is considered an alternate event, it does not grant the usual automatic entry into the Masters that usually comes with a tour win.
The U.S. and British Opens base many of their exemptions on the Official World Golf Rankings.
Prior to his victory, Austin’s OWGR was at No. 608. He moved up to No. 257 with the win, but he’ll need to get into the top 50 to get into those events.
The win does give him entry into next season’s winners-only event in Kapalua, Hawaii.
It also propelled him to No. 130 in the FedEx Cup standings. The top 125 make the season-ending Tour playoffs with only four weeks remaining.
He used his new exemption status to enter the Canadian Open this week, where he missed the cut when an opening round 82 was too much to overcome. He is also now scheduled to play in the Reno-Tahoe Open.
As for the Presidents Cup team? That is probably not happening.
He was No. 159 last week in the standings and moved up to 104 in the two-year rankings. Unfortunately for him, he needs to be in the top 10 in about a month to qualify.
And, of course, if Austin gets tired of playing the regular PGA Tour he can start playing the Champions Tour after he turns 50 on Jan. 27.