Coming Down to the Wire

By Jerry FoltzOctober 21, 2003, 4:00 pm
The looks run the gamut. From the confident gleaming eyes of a player destined for greatness, to the ghostly blank, emotionally vacant stare of a player wondering if his days are numbered. Those are the stories that are told with just a glance.
 
At this time of year on The Nationwide Tour, with the final chapter about to be written, a simple look into a players eyes reveal just how desperate things might be. On the other hand, that same glance can show the powerful confidence of youth in a rising star on the verge of accomplishing his lifelong dream and venturing ahead with excitement, having outgrown apprehension of the unknown.
 
The eyes are the window to the soul. One look in that window and it's obvious that 'crunch time' is upon The Nationwide Tour.
 
The big story every year is obviously those who will graduate directly to next year's PGA Tour; however, the subplots might be even more compelling--players trying to finish in one of the categories that improve their lot for next year and make Q-School less arduous.
 
  • Top 20 graduate to the PGA Tour.
     
  • Top 35 advance directly in the final stage of Q-School.
     
  • Top 55 qualify for the Nationwide Tour Championship where the limited-field and enlarged purse means that the winner is a sure thing to graduate as well. And each of the 55 is fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour in '04.
     
  • Top 70 advance directly into second stage of Q-School.
     
  • Top 100 retain conditional membership for next season.
     
  • Outside the top 100 and return to the starting gate--the first stage of Q-School with no real success to draw upon from this season.
     
    There's been some shuffling in recent weeks as those who play best with their backs against the wall can definitely feel the texture of concrete rubbing their microfibers.
     
    At the Monterey Peninsula Classic, Scott Gutschewski solidified his title of 'best player to come from oblivion to prominence in less than half a season' and continued to perform in an awe-inspiring manner. He won the tournament and moved to 23rd on the money list. He is now back at 23rd two weeks later.
     
    Lucas Glover won the Gila River Golf Classic to solidify his place amongst the rookies on next year's PGA Tour. Considered by many, myself included, to be the player from the class of 2003 to have the best chance to someday win a major, Lucas made it suspenseful by not locking it down until the last minute. Nonetheless, Glover is a star in the making that isn't likely to be intimidated next year on the PGA Tour. He's my early front-runner for Rookie of the Year in 2004. The excitement around him, and some of the younger players of similar ability, is that they dont know how good they can be'the skys the limit.
     
    Tommy Tolles finally moved into the top-20, albeit the tenuous position of 19th, and now looks poised to finally get back to exempt status on the PGA Tour. Tommy has some of the better credentials of those players that utilize the Nationwide Tour to reignite that fire within and earn their way back. Hes also the one player that I find myself pulling for in a biased manner just because of the person he is'a generous, genuine, kind soul.
     
    And then, last week, D.J. Brigman conquered the odds and rewrote his story of the year. Entering the Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic, D.J. was in 85th position on the money list and mentally preparing himself for the prospect of starting over at the first stage of Q-School. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he crafted a masterpiece on Sunday, a bogey-free 66, and grabbed his first Nationwide Tour title. Now at 31st in earnings, he has an outside chance at the top-20, but more importantly, he now knows that hes good enough to win at this level and, at the very least, will have another year of fully exempt status to prove that he can make it to the next level.
     
    Most of those players with blank looks in their eyes wont be at this weeks final full-field event'the Miccosukee Championship. Thats because Q-School starts this week. Some will play anyway, hoping beyond hope for that one magical week that has eluded them all year. Anything short of last minute heroics and theyll tee it up at one of a select few first stage sites that begin next Tuesday. The rest will be in Miami, and then in Prattville, Alabama, for the Nationwide Tour Championship trying their hearts out for a shot at a dream come true'a spot on next years PGA Tour.
     
    For the next two weeks, the drama will play out and the stories will tell themselves. The final chapter will be written, and the epilogue will then take place at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament finals. Everyone will then go home for the holidays and get ready for what I think is the true beauty of professional golf. It will all begin anew next year.
     
    Email your thoughts to Jerry Foltz
  • Getty Images

    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
    Getty Images

    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

    Getty Images

    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

    Getty Images

    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.