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Sepp Straka took advantage of Tour’s signature events, but even he thinks they’re ‘less competitive’

Sepp Straka cleaned up in this year’s signature events.

In eight starts in the Tour’s lucrative and exclusive series, Straka notched three top-10s and just one missed cut while earning approximately 1,046.5 of the 1,409.594 FedExCup points he’s earned this season. He sits comfortably at No. 17 in points, well inside the top 50 cutoff for next year’s signature events.

It’s not foolproof, but competing in all the signature tournaments is a sizable advantage to staying in them. Consider that 35 top-50 guys from last season are in the current top 50, a few more than the PGA Tour projected. And even those new faces churning in include more than a half dozen players, like Justin Thomas and Ludvig Åberg, who were in most if not all the signature fields. Plus, eight additional top-50 players are inside the top 70, including six who are competing in this week’s John Deere Classic – Eric Cole (55), Jordan Spieth (58), Seamus Power (64), Lee Hodges (66), Adam Schenk (67), Brendon Todd (69).

In other words, if you didn’t capitalize on inflated purses and limited to no cuts at the signature events, which were generally only open to the top-50 guys and about 20 other Tour members this season, you can still play a lot these next few weeks to retain your top-50 status.

Everyone else – like Chris Gotterup, who won a tournament this season and is the second highest-ranked Korn Ferry Tour graduate in points but is still No. 84 – is just trying to get out from behind the 8-ball over these next few weeks, which will still include two tournaments – Genesis Scottish Open and The Open – that most of the rank-and-file won’t be able to get into; they’ll play two opposite-field events instead, where the winner gets less than half the points as the winners of the two aforementioned tournaments.

Straka likely isn’t too worried about staying in the top 50; he’s here at TPC Deere Run to defend his title from last year. But Straka still has his opinions on the Tour’s new signature model – and it’s probably not the take you’d expect from someone snuggled safely in the signature security blanket.

“I personally don’t like the small events,” Straka said. “I just think it’s less competitive. When you get 140 something guys, it’s always a tougher environment. With a cut you kind of have to be ready on Thursday when the bell rings. The bigger tournaments should be bigger fields as well, I think. But, yeah, these tournaments are massive because a lot of the guys, most of the guys, aren’t getting in those small-field, big events.

“So, for the majority of the PGA Tour these tournaments are huge.”

Perhaps no more crucial than for the Korn Ferry Tour and Q-School graduates, who even struggled to get into some non-signature events in the first few months of the season.

Just 11 of those 35 players are currently ranked inside the top 125 in points.

The rest are in position to lose their jobs.