Hero World Challenge provides JT chance to improve ’24 status

Hero World Challenge provides JT chance to improve ’24 status
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NASSAU, Bahamas – For at least one player in the 20-man field at the Hero World Challenge, the “silly season” event has some serious ramifications.

Justin Thomas is playing Tiger Woods’ tournament for the sixth time. But unlike his first five starts, the 30-year-old needs a solid week at Albany to help pave the way to better things in 2024 as the PGA Tour transitions to a calendar-year schedule highlighted by limited-field signature events.

Thomas endured the worst year of his career in ’23 and finished 71st on the final FedExCup points list. Starting next season, the top 50 from the previous year’s points list qualify for all eight signature events.

An alternative for Thomas to get into such tournaments is via the world rankings. The top 30 in the world leading into each signature event (not including The Sentry) will qualify.

Thomas is currently ranked 27th and the Hero, which is an unofficial PGA Tour event but offers OWGR points, is his last chance to pad his ranking.

“It’s [staying inside top 30] definitely in my mind somewhere back there. I just know that if I continue to show some progress and get better and better, then I feel like all that will take care of itself,” Thomas said Tuesday at Albany.

Fortunately for Thomas, there are other pathways into the most lucrative events. The top 10 players (not otherwise eligible) from the current FedExCup points list the Monday of the signature event, will qualify. As will the top 5 players (not otherwise eligible) in points from each “swing” between signature events (for example, the Sony Open, American Express and Farmers Insurance would be the first swing to qualify for Pebble Beach).

Each signature event will also have four sponsor exemptions for Tour members.

“I should be coming out here and trying to win golf tournaments and make as many birdies as I possibly can and make as few bogeys as I possibly can and try to have a lot of fun,” he said. “I don’t need to be here this week looking at how many points is this or what do I need to do to stay in the top 30 in the world, try to move up here or there. If I just play good golf, it all takes care of itself.”

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