new start time, new path to pga tour
ORLANDO — PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, saying it was "time to get better," announced Tuesday sweeping changes that will end nearly 50 years of Q-school as a way to get to golf's biggest tour.
The policy board approved two significant components to the overhaul: the PGA Tour season will start in October; and the developmental Nationwide Tour will be the primary path to get a PGA Tour card. Cards would be awarded at a three-tournament series blending Nationwide Tour and PGA Tour players.
The tour wants to make the Nationwide Tour more appealing as it searches for a new title sponsor. This is the final year of sponsorship for the Ohio-based insurance company.
Starting the official season in October — shortly after the FedEx Cup season ends — allows the tour to give more value to the tournaments now part of the Fall Series. If they are not treated like other tournaments, odds are they would not renew their sponsorship, which would eliminate some $25 million in prize money.
Starting the season in October means Q-school no longer can be an avenue to the PGA Tour. Instead, Q-school will award cards for only the Nationwide Tour.
Finchem offered only a skeleton of the plan:
After the FedEx Cup regular season ends in August 2013, the tour will take the top 75 players from the Nationwide Tour money list, along with players who finished Nos. 126 through 200 on the PGA Tour money list, and have them play three tournaments. The top 50 will receive cards for the following season.
Finchem said research shows players who spent a year on the Nationwide Tour are more equipped for the rigors of travel than someone who gets hot for six rounds and gets a card. He also said an average 1.4 players go from college to Q-school and get their cards.
Johnson crew chief wins appeal
NASCAR's chief appellate officer overturned the bulk of the penalties levied against five-time championship winning crew chief Chad Knaus, who still must pay a $100,000 fine because Jimmie Johnson's car failed the opening day inspection of the Daytona 500.
Chief appellate officer John Middlebrook overturned the six-race suspension NASCAR handed down to Knaus and car chief Ron Malec, and ruled both instead will be on probation through May 9.
Middlebrook also reinstated the 25 points Johnson had been docked. The decision moves Johnson to 11th in the Sprint Cup standings heading into Sunday's race at California.
"It's been a tough 30 days," Knaus said. "It's not about vindication. It's time to move on."
Johnson, who earned his first career victory at California in 2002, was told by Knaus via text message about the ruling.
"I'm glad this is over; now it's on to Cali," he posted on Twitter.
Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick have maintained the No. 48 Chevrolet was not illegal when it was presented for inspection Feb. 17 at Daytona. NASCAR used a visual inspection to determine the sheet metal between the roof and the side windows had been illegally modified to give Johnson an aerodynamic advantage.
22-year-old wins in return from illness
Alisa Kleybanova won the first match she has played since being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in May at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne.
The 248th-ranked Kleybanova, who received a wild card into the tournament, dropped the first set to Johanna Larsson before rebounding to secure a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
"It's amazing but it's not just about the win," she said.
It had been 10 months since Kleybanova, 22, played a professional match. She had chemotherapy treatment in Rome until December.
Tuesday's schedule featured only 12 women's first-round matches. The rest were qualifying matches.
TB Thomas to transfer from Georgia
Georgia tailback Carlton Thomas has decided to transfer.
Bulldogs coach Mark Richt announced Thomas has decided to switch schools for his senior season. Richt said he and Thomas discussed the decision and that he wishes him the best.
A native of Frostproof, Thomas has played in 27 career games including two starts. His career totals include 159 carries for 725 yards and four touchdowns.
Northern Illinois: Linebacker Jamaal Bass has been indicted in Ohio on a felonious assault charge on allegations he intentionally ran into the Toledo marching band, knocking down a member, as he took the field when the teams played in November. The Lucas County grand jury on Friday also indicted the redshirt freshman from Miramar on a misdemeanor assault charge. Bass was suspended after the game. Northern Illinois says he is still in school and his status with the team hasn't changed.
Doping: Spanish police have detained 10 people involved in an international doping network involving cycling and athletics. Catalan regional police Mossos d'Esquadra, working alongside national police, said in a statement it "dismantled a criminal network" that had provided performance-enhancing drugs such as EPO to athletes who had tested positive at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Spanish Vuelta, among other competitions.