Have the circuit rules changed? Does getting a 1st place no longer auto-qualify you for Circuit Final?
That is correct.
Though lets be honest - if you win an event, the odds are pretty good that you will end up in the Top 40.
Because those opening rounds must run with exactly 40 players, it seemed unfair to “bump” someone out ahead of a last-minute event winner. The new 40-player field also means that additional players beyond 40th may be invited if anyone is not able to attend.