Web.com Tour Finals leave many in a daze

By Jason CrookSeptember 22, 2014, 12:09 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The Finals End Here.

In case you weren’t aware, a quick look around TPC Sawgrass’ Valley Course will remind you. It’s printed on every sign. But that’s really only half of the story.

This is the beginning. Fifty guys making the leap, a chance to make it in the big leagues. The rest are left to try again.

As players came off the 18th green Sunday at the Web.com Tour Championship, it was evident whether they knew they were moving on or had fallen short - or had absolutely no idea.

Some had achieved their dream for the first time and reflected it with a big smile.

“It hasn’t hit me yet. It was probably my best round of the year, maybe life, and I’m still probably in a little bit of shock," said Nick Taylor, 26, after closing out his quest for a PGA Tour card with a sizzling 63. "It’s nice to actually know, but it definitely hasn’t hit me yet. My goal was to get under par and luckily I was a couple better than that, but I was trying to make birdies and have fun.”

Others are getting another shot at the big time. That group includes Sunday’s winner, Derek Fathauer, who held off Zac Blair down the stretch for his first Web.com Tour victory, and eighth top 10 this season.

PGA Tour 2014-15 priority rankings

“I’m ready to give it a shot again,” said Fathauer, of getting back to the PGA Tour for the first time since 2009. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I need a couple days to recharge.”

Plenty of others were left wondering what could have been, and left rationalizing as best they could.

“I’m still playing golf for a living, which is good. I’d like to be able to control my schedule, so I can hang out with my family and my kids,” said Tag Ridings, who entered the day just one spot outside of the top 50 but slipped to No. 54 with a closing 73. “At the end of the day I still got a nice tour to play on, and I get a little more time off at this stage and I get a little more time off to heal so it’s going to be OK.”

And those were just the ones who knew their fate.

Chad Collins shot an even-par 70 and summed up how a lot of players were probably feeling after their rounds when he said, “Hopefully it’s good enough.” He ended up 47th on the priority list, and admitted he couldn’t keep the top-50 bubble off of his mind coming down the stretch.

“You’re not human if you’re not,” he said. “Anything can happen on those [last three or four] holes.”

Collins was one of the players throughout the day who were in, then out, then back in, then out again. He was one of the lucky ones whose day ended inside the top 50. It makes you feel for Roberto Castro, who finished at No. 51, $31.66 out of the 50th spot.

Last year, the first of this Finals format since the switch from Q-School, six of the top 10 from the priority ranking were able to keep their PGA Tour cards by the end of the year, while none from Nos. 41-50 were able to retain full-time status, leaving several players to openly complain about the limited starts.

Sunday, however, those who made it inside the top 50 didn’t seem too worried about their odds of succeeding next season. Even if they were one in a million, the mood as they held their cards tight and smiled for the cameras in the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse was classic Lloyd Christmas … “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

Makes sense. After all, it’s the attitude that got them this far in the first place.

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x