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Golf

Preview of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic

Anne-Marie Sorvin-US Presswire

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic can provide a good opportunity for some players to enjoy an end of season family holiday but for others the tournament is the last opportunity to secure playing privileges for next season.

Neither scenario applies to Ryan Palmer and he has an ideal skills profile to win his fourth event on the regular PGA Tour. Palmer looks the most likely winner of a tournament that has attracted a relatively weak field but which is the most significant of the year for those on the “bubble”. A top 10 finish would see Palmer end the season at a career high in the Money List.

This is a great deal more than a late season trip to the Disney World Resort for Jonas Blixt. He is currently 35th on the Money List and will be striving to get into the top 30 which would earn him an invite to the US Masters. There are also qualifying issues for players who finish inside the top 70 as they are then assured of invites to several limited field events next season.

This week’s tournament is a well established pro-am that is played on two courses at the Disney Resort in Florida. The Magnolia and Palm courses are used in rotation over the first two days and than the Magnolia course is the sole host over the weekend.

These are easy resort courses, with wide fairways, large Bermuda greens and relatively inviting pin positions. Low scores are the order of the day but due to the pro-am format rounds can take up to six hours. Solid previous form in pro-ams is always something to consider when trying to identify potential winners.

The event marks the end of the PGA Tour and the last opportunity for players to retain their cards for 2013. The top 125 on the Money List are assured of a full schedule for next season. Players outside that band will have to rely on sponsor’s invites and Monday qualifying next year.

The situation is complicated somewhat by the status of Retief Goosen (pictured) and YE Yang, both players just outside the qualifying mark. Goosen will keep his card due to career earnings while Yang has two years to run of his five years full exemption for winning the US PGA Championship in 2009. Two players in the top 125 will miss out to allow these players to qualify for a full schedule next season.

Blixt and Palmer will not be playing with the pressure of trying to ensure a future on Tour. However, the Disney tournament provides both with a good chance to end the season positively and set up lucrative opportunities for next season.