he PGA of America has declared that it will close a gap in the eligibility classifications for the Professional Club Championship, which has enraged some members. It’s known as the Omar Uresti rule.
The PGA Board of Directors has authorized a change to the eligibility classification for the PGA Professional Championship and the NCR Assistant Professional Championship that will prevent Life Members from competing in those events.
In a statement, the PGA stated, “The Committee felt firmly that the PGA Professional Championship is for working PGA Professionals in an active classification.” “The best method to coincide with the Committee’s position was found to be reverting to the standards in existence before to 2006, when Life Members were not eligible for the PGA Professional Championship; however, Life Members will remain eligible for the Senior PGA Professional Championship.”
Uresti, 53, was chastised on social media and chastised within the club pro community for abusing the rules to compete in the championship despite not working full-time as a club professional and earning one of the coveted exemptions to the PGA Championship given to the top-20 finishers in the competition.
Uresti went pro in 1991 and spent 11 seasons on the PGA Tour, making 380 starts and earning over $4 million in the process. He acquired PGA Class A membership by playing on the PGA Tour for 20 years, but he and others who took advantage of the “Life Member Active” category operated in a different capacity than the rest of the field. Uresti won the tournament in 2017 and 2021, as well as being in the top 20 to qualify for the PGA Championship in 2015, 2016, and 2018. (the 2020 championship was canceled due to COVID-19). Uresti had never qualified for the PGA Championship until he took advantage of the PGA Professional Championship’s loophole.
When evaluating standards for the PGA Professional Championship, the PGA Tournament Committee reviewed the eligibility change from the previous year. Prior to the change in qualifying criteria, any PGA member who is a Class A PGA professional and has made less than 10 starts on professional tours (including developmental and senior tours) in the previous 12 months, excluding majors, was eligible to compete.
The 2022 Section Championships will be the first step in advancing participants to the NCR Assistant PGA Professional Championship in 2022 and the PGA Professional Championship in 2023. Players competing in the PGA Professional Championship in 2022 will not be affected by these changes.