10/17/2014 3:27PM

Fornatale: New leader on NHC Tour

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We have a new leader on the National Handicapping Championship Tour. After his fourth-place finish in the Oct. 4 event on NHCQualify.com, William Shurman has just enough points to put a nose in front of previous leader Brett Wiener. It should be a fight to the finish from here on out, with the race for the top spot seemingly down to six foes:

1. WILLIAM SHURMAN, 15,927
2. BRETT WIENER, 15,848
3. ERIC MOOMEY, 15,641
4. JACQUELINE SUKANICK, 15,372
5. BILL WILBUR, 14,799
6. KEN SEEMAN, 14,261

But the most interesting race on the NHC Tour might be the one for 150th place. The top 150 points leaders on the NHC Tour are guaranteed a spot in the NHC if they have not already qualified via a contest. This only applies to a tour member’s first NHC entry. If they have already qualified for the NHC via a contest, they cannot earn a second NHC entry via a top-150 tour finish – they have to earn that second entry in another contest.

However, for those still struggling to get their first entry into the NHC, breaking into the top 150 on the tour may be their best chance.

Right now, Jim Goodman, a recognizable name to many tournament players because he is contest director at Keeneland, is sitting in 150th place on the tour with 5,405 points. Goodman already is qualified for the NHC, but sitting just behind him in 151st place with 5,401points is Ron Richardson.

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That means a top 10 percent finish in any of this weekend’s NHC Tour contests would vault Richardson into the top 150. In fact, there are about 60 players not already qualified for the NHC who are within 1,000 points (either above or below) Goodman’s total of 5,257 points. Just a top-15 finish in one of the online contests this weekend would earn that 1,000 pts.

In fact, there are more than 100 people not already qualified for the NHC who are fewer than 2,000 points from cracking the top 150. Just two good finishes in any of the 30 remaining NHC Tour events would earn 2,000 points. Just another reason to check out the Tour calendar and pick a few events to focus on.

Of course, the total required to crack the top 150 keeps rising each week. It is hard to predict what score will be needed at year’s end, but right now, it looks like about 6,000 points might get the job done. One thing is certain: The race for the top 150 will not be over until the last race of the last contest at Surfside on Sunday, Dec. 28. So, don’t give up trying to qualify for the NHC. You don’t even have to win a contest; all you need are a few more solid finishes, and you just might earn your way to the NHC via the backdoor known as tour points.