It’s a mystery to many how players get to play on the European Tour. Indeed Forum member Jake Malvern has asked this very question.
So here’s an at-a-glance guide to European Tour members’ automatic exemption status.
Also players who finished in the top 10 and ties for one tournament autmatically leap-frong into the next if not previously exempt.
Category 2b (5) – Winners of World Golf Championships (Darren Clarke).
Category 3 (2) – Winners of European tour order of merit tournaments, from 2000-2001 inclusive.
Category 3a/c – Medical exemption (based on equivalent events missed)
Category 3b – Winners of joint European/Challenge Tour events.
Category 4 – Eight sponsors invitations available per tournament, usually subject to Tour approval.
Category 5 – National/Regional orders of merit (PGA pros not previously exempt for Volvo PGA).
Category 6 – Past winners of tournaments in question, under 50 years of age at time tournament starts.
Category 7(1) – Top 115 members from 2001 Volvo Order of Merit (Note : Alistair Forsyth who finished 116th, was given restricted exemption as a special case, when Sergio Garcia failed to complete allotted 11 events, after American Express WGC tournament was cancelled).
Category 7a – Membership extension (based on uncompleted events)
Category 8 – Members of last-named European Cup team.
Category 9 – Top 40 2001 Career Money list
Category 10 – Top 15 from final Challenge Tour ranking list.
Category 11 - Top 35 from the 2000 Qualifying School.
Category 12 – Places 118 to 150 from the 2001Volvo Order of Merit.
Category 13 – Places 36 to 80 from 2001 Qualifying school.
Most events cater for around 156 entries, based on category status, though several on the European Tour, are co-sanctioned with the Davidoff, South African and Australasian Tours, have limited access for European Tour pros.
Players in Categories, 11, 12 and 13 are also re-ranked in the early part of the season based on their early performances, so there’s a chance to improve their category.
A list of alternates in priority order, based on category status, can be allerted at the last minute in case of injury or withdrawal upto the allotted tee time of the player they replace. At most European tournaments opportunities arise for at least ten players in this way.
It’s a complicated system but one which has worked well for the paid-up members of the European Tour, who must take part in at least 11 events to retain their playing privileges and avoid having to return to the Qualifying School stages in October and November each year.