Congratulations to all of you who have made it through the completely unnecessary, nearly year long daily updates to the FedExCup standings on broadcasts of all types (my personal favorite, the “now is the time to make a move in the FedExCup!” feature, which aired in January). The Playoffs start this week, and while the PGA Tour will tell you that the top 125 players from the 2014-2015 season will be there with their ski masks on for season ending money grab, in actuality, there are some deserved players that will be left behind.

In the latest part of what is now becoming an NLU series on the suppression of young American golfers by the PGA Tour, I present to you, Patrick Rodgers (hat tip to twitter follower Tucker Blankinship for triggering this rant). The masses were introduced to him at the Wells Fargo this year, where he finished T2 (far) behind Rory McIlroy, and it was beaten over our heads profusely that he is roommates with Justin Thomas. This makes him Justin Thomas’ Good Buddy, who is Jordan Spieth’s Good Buddy, aka JTGB who is JSGB. You follow? That runner-up finish helped him earn special temporary membership to the PGA Tour a month later at the Memorial Tournament, thus able to accept unlimited sponsor’s exemptions for the rest of the season.

For those unfamiliar with Rodgers, I blame the media and networks for the lack of attention more than I blame you. He’s a 23 year old from Indiana, and all he did in three years at Stanford was win 11 times, tying a certain large feline’s record there. He earned enough FedExCup points last year to get his card, and won the second event of the year on that tour this season. Bottom line is, the kid can play.

This is what Patrick Rodgers looks like

Rodgers finished his season at 2nd on the Non-Member FedExCup points list (yes this is a thing!), just behind Branden Grace, and just ahead of Danny Willett (Grace and Willett obviously play primarily on the European Tour, so they are not the main focus of this post). Those three are the only Non-Members who have earned enough FedExCup points to make the playoffs, yet because they aren’t technically PGA Tour members, they aren’t allowed in. The PGA Tour is playing the role of the overly confident and bullying bouncer at the club, not letting these guys in because they aren’t on the list. Grace and Willett, the 21st and 26th ranked players in the world, are left out in the cold, along with the young American, Rodgers.

My question is…. why? I know the technical answer is “because they aren’t members of the PGA Tour,” but that doesn’t effectively answer the question. The Tour makes it challenging enough for young players to break through, and even when they do come out and prove themselves, they don’t let them play in the end of season reindeer games? Despite being handicapped regarding the number of tournaments they can enter (until earning special membership, even then, they’re relying on sponsors actually giving them exemptions), these three all performed well enough to play for the money, and we know this because the Tour tracks this special list for us! The guys they would be knocking out are Jeff Overton, Ryo Ishikawa, and Camilo Villegas. Of those three, Villegas ranks the highest in the OWGR at 160, and Rodgers was able to earn 88 more hypothetical FedExCup points than Camilo in eight fewer events. What is the case for Villegas being more deserving of a spot in the playoffs?

What’s even more silly is that the “because they aren’t members of the PGA Tour” argument doesn’t even hold up. You actually can earn your way into the playoffs without having full membership, but only by winning a tournament. We saw it two years ago with Jordan Spieth, who also went the route of Rodgers, earning his special temporary membership through the dollars he earned from balling out on sponsor’s exemptions. Spieth got his first career win at the John Deere by half-blading a bunker shot on the 18th hole that somehow found the bottom of the cup, thrusting him into legitimacy in the eyes of those charged with bestowing the exclusive entrance into the playoffs. He went on to finish 7th in the final FedEx Cup standings, but if that bunker shot doesn’t go in, he isn’t even allowed in.

Now, I wouldn’t say Rodgers is on the same career trajectory as Spieth. But a guy who finishes 2nd to (at the time) the #1 player in the world, and otherwise earned enough points to qualify at around 100th in the standings, gets shut out? Sure, he’s not likely to win the Cup, but there’s a lot at stake for some of these young guys in the playoffs, including their priority ranking for next year, a boatload of cash, exemptions into tournaments for next year, and at least that shot at that fat stack of cash. Remember, Horschel was in 82nd place last year after missing the cut at the Barclays, and finished T2-1-1 to back the Brinks truck up to the 18th green at East Lake and take home the pile. Morgan Hoffmann snuck into the playoffs at 124th, then proceeded to go HAM and make it all the way to Tour Championship, securing his entrance into the 2015 Masters. There are stories like this every single year.

The overall point is that the PGA Tour has made it hard enough on young players to earn their tour cards, and to succeed on the PGA Tour. It seems especially silly to suppress a talented young player, who has proven by earning the FedExCup points on which the system is founded, by not even giving him a chance to play for this manufactured and fabricated sweepstake.