Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Derek Fathauer’s college roommates at the University of Louisville used to call him “Mr. Runner-up.” Those days are gone now. The 28-year old from South Florida now proudly owns the moniker “winner of the 2014 Web.com Tour Championship” after collecting his first win since turning pro five years ago.
Fathauer hovered near the top of every leaderboard during the Tour’s four Finals events but stumbled on the previous three weekends and came up short. Sunday’s finals of the Tour Championship was a different story as Fathauer, the 54-hole leader, never buckled under the pressure that was being administered by both his peers and the Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Fathauer led by one at the start of the day and birdied two of his first three holes to increase his lead – and then played the final 15 holes in even par.
A bogey at No. 17 cut his lead to one but after nearly holing a 50-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole Fathauer tapped in for par to beat rookie Zac Blair (68) by one shot and veteran Jason Gore (69) by three. Nobody else was close to challenging for the lead during the pressure-packed final day of the season.
“Those last few holes were a little iffy,” said Fathauer, a resident of Jupiter, FL. “I just wanted three good birdie putts on the last three holes. I didn’t do it on 17 or 18 but it just worked out in my favor.”
Heath Slocum (68) and Jim Herman (70) tied for fourth place, six back and David Lingmerth (65) was alone in seventh, seven off the pace.
“This is unbelievable,” said Fathauer, still trying to understand the significance of the win. “I was trying to force it for the first few events. I did a better job of staying patient this week and not looking too far ahead.”
What’s ahead now is a return trip to the PGA TOUR. Fathauer’s win was worth $180,000 and coupled with three other top-20 finishes in the first three events, it gave him the money title for the Finals. That carries with it fully-exempt status for the 2014-15 season along with a sponsor exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship next May.
Fathauer played on TOUR in 2009 but made only eight cuts in 25 starts and wound up losing his card after finishing No. 201 on the FedExCup standings.
“It was tough my first year. I’m not sure I was ready for the TOUR,” he said. “I think my all-around game is better now but I’m mentally tougher. I’m ready to give it another try.”
Fathauer will be joined on TOUR by fellow Louisville alum Adam Hadwin, whose T7 finish this week was enough to vault him into the No. 1 spot on the season-long money list.
Hadwin, a two-time winner this year, also earned fully-exempt status and a spot in THE PLAYERS.
“I think everyone out here knows the importance of being number one and knows how good it is not to have to reshuffle for the next year,” he said. “It allows you to just go out and have some fun and enjoy it. You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to perform before the first reshuffle or the second reshuffle.”
Hadwin had an eagle and four bogeys for a 2-over 72 but it was more than enough to jump over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz (m/c) and top the money list with $529,792, the third-highest single-season total in Tour history.
“You know, everybody asks you to put into words and describe the feeling,” said Hadwin. “I can’t. It’s been a long year. It’s gone by fast. I played some unbelievable golf for five weeks in a row and have three top-10s now against arguably our best fields of the year.”
FOURTH ROUND NOTES:
* Sunday weather: Mostly sunny. Wind NE-NW 7-15 mph. Overnight low 68. Daytime high 87.
* Derek Fathauer completes a special Web.com Tour Finals series and wins the Finals money list with $250,133. He beat out fellow Louisville alum Adam Hadwin by $14,008 for the title.
* Fathauer earns fully-exempt status on the 2014-15 PGA TOUR along with a sponsor exemption into THE PLAYERS Championship next May at TPC Sawgrass – Stadium Course.
* Fathauer collects a first-place check for $180,000 and increases his season total to $468,186, which put him No. 4 on the overall list.
* Fathauer earns his first career win in his 73rd career start on the Web.com Tour.
* Fathauer completes the season making 19 cuts in 23 starts. He had 15 top-25 finishes and 8 top-10’s. His best weeks were:
1 Web.com Tour Championship
P2 Nova Scotia Open
T3 Panama Claro Championship
5 Midwest Classic
* Fathauer becomes the 17th first-time winner in 25 Web.com Tour events this year.
* Fathauer becomes the fifth player to make the Tour Championship his first career win:
Derek Fathauer 2014
Brendan Steele 2010
Matt Every 2009
Nick Watney 2004
Steve Flesch 1997
* Fathauer earns the 17th win on the Web.com Tour his year by players in their 20’s.
* Fathauer joins two-time winner Adam Hadwin as University of Louisville grads to win on Tour this year. Hadwin won the Chile Classic in March and the Chiquita Classic two weeks ago.
* Louisville alums Fathauer and Hadwin captured the two biggest prizes available this week. Hadwin won the overall season money list while Fathauer was first on the Finals money list.
* Fathauer becomes the 16th third-round leader/co-leader to win the Tour Championship (out of 20 events) but the first since Brendan Steele in 2010.
* Runner-up Zac Blair started the day one shot back of playing partner Derek Fathauer but fell behind by four after turning the front in 2-over 37. The 24-year old from Utah countered with three consecutive birdies starting at No. 10 and then added another at No. 17 to close within one. His second place finish was worth $108,000 and pushed him to No. 11 on the Finals Priority Ranking.
* Blair started the season with low conditional status on the Web.com Tour and did not make his first start until the first week of July at the Nova Scotia Open, where he finished T7. He added a T11 at the Utah Championship the next week and then a T25 at the Albertsons Boise Open. When the Tour reshuffled the conditional players, Blair was high enough on the list to get into the next events. His best week was a T2 at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.
* When he didn’t get into events early in the year, Blair went back to school and finished his degree at Brigham Young University. He is scheduled to be married in Park City, UT, during the week of The McGladrey Classic.
* Jason Gore grabbed a share of the lead with Derek Fathauer at 13-under when he birdied No. 7. Playing in the next-to-last twosome, he was still minus-13 and down one when he double-bogeyed the final hole for a 1-under 69 and solo third place. Gore, the Tour’s all-time career leader with seven victories, did not win this year but had a pair or runner-up finishes and a pair of third-place finishes and wound up No. 6 on the season-long money list, which also placed him No. 10 on the Finals Priority Ranking.
* Adam Hadwin’s T7 finish was more than enough to propel him past three-time winner Carlos Ortiz and into the No. 1 spot on the season-long money list. Hadwin came into the week with $499,667 and trailing Ortiz by only $15,736. Hadwin earned 430,125 this week, giving him $529,792.
* Hadwin’s season total puts him No. 3 on the Tour’s all-time, single-season list.
*This week’s hard-luck player is Roberto Castro. The former Georgia Tech star finished T40 after rounds of 71-67-72-71—281 (+1). Castro entered the week at No. 41 on the Priority Ranking. His Finals money total was $36,280 and he wound up as the odd man out at No. 51. Eric Axley (T25) finished No. 50 and beat Castro out for the final TOUR card by $31.66.
* There were six players who played their way into the top-50 on the Finals Priority Ranking this week to earn PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
* There were a total of 19 eagles this week over the four tournament days – strangely, 11 of them came on par-4s and only 8 on par-5s:
No. 3 par-4 2
No. 6 par-4 1
No. 7 par-5 3
No. 8 par-4 1
No. 10 par-5 5
No. 12 par-4 5
No. 16 par-4 2
What was at stake this week:
* This week’s Web.com Tour Championship was the culmination of the four Finals events that started with the Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, IN, followed by the Chiquita Classic near Charlotte, NC and last week’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, OH. The fields included players from the Web.com Tour (Nos. 1-75 on the money list) and PGA TOUR (Nos. 126-200 on the FedExCup standings, including non-members and medicals, and excluding those otherwise exempt).
* A total of 25 PGA TOUR cards were determined through the Web.com Tour’s 21-event Regular Season, which ended after the WinCo Foods Portland Open in August. Those 25 players are assured of PGA TOUR cards for the 2014-15 season, which starts next month.
* An additional 25 PGA TOUR cards were awarded Sunday to the top money winners in the four Finals events. The two lists of 25 will be merged to determine the Final Priority Ranking, which will be used to form PGA TOUR fields for the upcoming season.
* Bogey-free rounds this week:
R1: 63 – Zac Blair; 66 – James Nitties; 68 – Tony Finau, Spencer Levin
R2: 66 – Mathew Goggin, Derek Fathauer, Max Homa; 67 – J.J. Henry; 68 – Michael Kim;
R3: 68 – Alex Prugh
* Scoring Averages for the week:
Front (35) Back (35) Total (70)
R1 35.528 35.184 70.712
R2 35.025 34.613 69.639
R3 35.446 35.246 70.692
R4 35.538 35.323 70.862
Total 35.356 35.037 70.393