IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS, THE WEB.COM TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP – The fate and futures of a significant number of Web.com Tour and PGA TOUR members will be determined this week as the Web.com Tour’s season-ending championship unfolds at the home of the PGA TOUR on its TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Course. The Web.com Tour Championship will identify the second set of 25 PGA TOUR card earners for 2014-15. They will join 25 others who secured their TOUR cards over the course of 21 Regular Season events. The Championship will also sort out the all-important priority ranking order for all 50 cards. The ranking is used to form PGA TOUR fields.
RACE FOR NO. 1 IS ON – The race to finish the season with the most earnings on the Web.com Tour has tightened in the last two weeks with Adam Hadwin collecting his second title of the year and Justin Thomas grabbing his first after many near misses. Here’s how things stand among the top five:
With a first prize of $180,000 this week, Hadwin, Thomas and Putnam all have a mathematical chance of catching Ortiz at the top. The yearlong leading money winner will be fully exempt on the PGA TOUR in 2014-15 and receive a PLAYERS Championship invite.
RENOVATED DYE’S VALLEY AT TPC SAWGRASS TO HOST – The shots played this week at TPC Sawgrass-Dye’s Valley Course will be the first struck on the course since March. The Pete Dye/Jerry Pate/Bobby Weed-designed layout underwent a significant infrastructure replacement project – the first since it opened in 1987. Among the changes were: new irrigation and drainage systems, replacement of fairway turf, new tees and greens and reworked greenside bunkers. For this year’s Championship, the nines will be flipped. Said 2013 champion Chesson Hadley, “Dye’s Valley is an extremely challenging course and was a great test of my game last year. I was proud to win on such an esteemed course and am sure the renovations will only heighten its reputation.”
IMPRESSIVE 21-YEAR-OLD – The stats said it was going to happen sooner or later…a Justin Thomas win that is! And it finally came on Sunday when the Web.com Tour’s third-youngest member captured the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in a one-hole playoff over three-time European Tour winner Richard Sterne of South Africa. Thomas, who turned 21 in April, has reeled off impressive stats throughout his rookie season:
- Has played 71 rounds this year…56 were under par and eight even par.
- Is 1st on Tour in All-Around Ranking and Birdie Average (4.61); 2nd in Scoring Average (69.04); 5th in Total Driving Distance (310.5).
- Has finishes of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, T4, T5 (twice) and T6.
- In 19 starts, has seven top-10s and 12 top-25s; just two missed cuts.
- Was fifth in total earnings prior to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, despite not winning. Is now third.
- Is youngest winner on Tour this year.
- At 21 years, 4 months and 16 days became the fourth-youngest winner in Tour history (1-Jason Day, 2-Patrick Cantlay, 3-Danny Lee).
WHAT A CUP FINISH! – With his second consecutive FedExCup Playoffs win, Billy Horschelnotched Web.com Tour alumni win No. 391 on Sunday at the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola. Perhaps there will be a Horschel sighting at the Web.com Tour Championship/TPC Sawgrass, which is not far from his Jacksonville Beach, Fla. home.
RISING IN THE RANKS – Patrick Rodgers, a college contemporary of Justin Thomas, recorded a T8 finish at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and with one Finals event to go, holds down the 25th and last card spot available via the Finals’ money list. In the first two Finals’ event, the recently departed Stanford University star withdrew in Fort Wayne (back) and missed the cut in Charlotte. He and last week’s runner-up Richard Sterne, who is fourth on the same list, became eligible for the Finals via FedExCup non-member points.
ON TO THE PGA TOUR – Sam Saunders has enjoyed a very consistent run in the Web.com Tour Finals. The 27-year-old has finished T4, T16 and T12 in the first three tournaments and currently occupies the sixth spot among the 25 available Finals’ cards. On Sunday, he will collect his PGA TOUR membership card for the first time. Saunders finished the Regular Season 45thon the money list.
WEB.COM TOUR BOUND – PGA TOUR Canada’s 2014 season wrapped up on Sunday, with its five leading money winners headed to the Web.com Tour in 2014-15. Earning promotions were: 1-Joel Dahmen (Lewiston, Idaho), 2-Matt Harmon (Grand Haven, Mich.), 3-Timothy Madigan (Rio Rancho, N.M.), 4-Brock Mackenzie (Seattle, Wash.) and 5-Greg Eason(England). Dahmen earned fully exempt status.
RULES RETIREMENTS – Two longtime TOUR rules officials Vaughn Moise and Michael Combs are retiring after this week’s Web.com Tour Championship Thanks and congratulations, guys!
“IDOL” CONCERT – American Idol winner and country music star Scotty McCreery will headline Friday evening’s Military Appreciation Concert at TPC Sawgrass. An appreciation ceremony will be followed by McCreery’s live performance on the Clubhouse back lawn. A Friday tournament ticket grants admission.
DID YOU KNOW? – The Jack Nicklaus-redesigned (2005) OSU Scarlet course truly was a “bear” last week. Three of the four rounds rank among the top-six on Tour in 2014. The week’s scoring average (72.590 / par 71) is the highest in relation to par on Tour this year.
SOCIAL MEDIA – This week’s social media outlets are:
Twitter: @WebTourChamp / #WebTourChamp
NEXT WEEK – A breather for those who earn their PGA TOUR cards and a time for the rest of the Web.com Tour competitors to recharge their batteries.
Source: PGA Tour