Golf

Canada's Hughes gains entry to PGA Tour's signature events with Rahm's departure

The PGA Tour has notified Jon Rahm he has been suspended for signing with Saudi-funded LIV Golf, a formality that is more about the benefits to the players Rahm leaves behind. Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and Carl Yuan are the immediate beneficiaries.

Dundas, Ont., native bumped to 50th in rankings as Masters champ is suspended

A golfer holds a golf ball.
Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, seen above in November, was bumped to 50th in the season-long FedEx points list and earned entry into the PGA Tour's 2024 signature events on Monday. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

The PGA Tour has notified Jon Rahm he has been suspended for signing with Saudi-funded LIV Golf, a formality that is more about the benefits to the players Rahm leaves behind.

Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and Carl Yuan are the immediate beneficiaries of Rahm's decision last week to sign with the rival league.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a memo to players Monday afternoon said Rahm's suspension "due to his association with a series of unauthorized tournaments" removes his name from the FedEx Cup eligibility points list.

That means Hughes, of Dundas, Ont., goes from No. 51 to No. 50, and now is eligible for all seven of the $20 million US signature events in 2024. It also means Yuan, who was signed up for Q-school this week, moves up one spot to No. 125 and has a full PGA Tour card for next year.

The tour last year distinguished between the FedEx Cup standings and a separate list related to eligibility for the postseason and for status. The distinction was so players defecting to LIV would not have a negative impact on those who stayed behind.

Among those who benefited last year were Rickie Fowler, who got into the postseason because of all the players who left for LIV; and Jimmy Walker and Rory Sabbatini, who moved up on the career money list and were able to use one-time exemptions to keep full status.

This year, Hughes narrowly missed out on the top 50. He kept his 51st position through the fall, which only would have guaranteed him spots in the first two $20 million events. Now the Canadian can count on the likes of the Wells Fargo Championship in his home residence of Charlotte, N.C.

Hughes is the fifth Canadian among the top 50, joining Canadian Open champion Nick Taylor (24), Corey Conners (25), Adam Svensson (36) and Adam Hadwin (44).

Alex Smalley goes to the No. 60 spot and now is assured of two $20 million events. The changes also affect Paul Haley, who moves to No. 150 and now has at least conditional status.

And it could affect Sahith Theegala. He finished No. 31 to narrowly miss the Tour Championship. He moves up to No. 30, which could make him exempt for the U.S. Open. This year, the U.S. Open recognized the top 30 who were eligible.

The movements were allowed because the new season has not started. If more PGA Tour players leave for LIV before the end of the year, that could lead to more changes.

Social media had been buzzing about the possibility of Tony Finau — he and Rahm are close friends — also leaving for LIV. Finau took to Instagram on Monday night that recapped his year and said he was "looking forward to playing my 10th season on the PGA Tour."

"See y'all in Maui!" he concluded, adding the hash tag, "imnotleaving."

Monahan also said in the memo that the policy board and management recently met with a group of players upset that signature events will offer disproportionately more FedEx Cup points than the other events, leading to concerns it will be difficult for players outside the top 50 to fairly compete.

Monahan said the board will review how the new system is working in June and evaluate whether changes are in order for 2025.

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