LA QUINTA, Calif. -- The final Q-school that granted direct access to the PGA Tour could turn out to be a waste of a remarkable effort by Si Woo Kim.
The 17-year-old from South Korea made it through all four stages of qualifying -- that includes a pre-qualifying stage in September -- and was among 25 players who earned their cards Monday at PGA West. Trouble is, he can't become a PGA Tour member until he turns 18 on June 28.
Kim might play as few as three tournaments and go right back to Q-school -- only then, he would have to spend a year on the Web.com Tour.
The PGA Tour has no provision for Kim to appeal to be a member before he is 18, so his options are limited until his next birthday.
He can accept as many seven sponsor exemptions before June 28, but those exemptions might be hard to come by for a kid hardly anyone knows, especially with the likes of Camilo Villegas needing a spot next year. Kim also can try to qualify on Mondays in open tournaments. Whatever points he earns would not count in the regular FedEx Cup standings, though he could transfer those points when he becomes a member.
Kim turns 18 the week of the AT&T National, and will be the lowest-ranked member (zero points) among this Q-school class. He can only hope he gets in The Greenbrier Classic and John Deere Classic. There are two events he can count on (Mississippi opposite the British Open, Reno-Tahoe opposite the Bridgestone Invitational). He also might have a chance at getting in the Canadian Open.
And then the FedEx Cup playoffs begin for the top 125.
The players who finish from 126 to 200 would qualifying for the four tournament series called "The Finals" that, in effect, replaces Q-school and awards 25 cards to the top finishers on that separate money list. With so few starts, Kim would have to play well to get into the top 200.
Claiming an injury so that he could start the season fresh in October would not do him any good because he would only get about four starts, the same as he realistically could have played starting in July.
His best hope would be to get a few exemptions earlier in the year and make the most of them. But those rules have changed, too. Because of the short season, tournaments no longer have four unrestricted exemptions to award. The number has been reduced to two, and tournaments have to award four spots to players from Q-school or the Web.com Tour based on their priority ranking. Kim is toward the bottom.
So the kid with the polished swing came a long way to get his PGA Tour card. And he still has a long way to go.