Web.com Tour Championship a real page-turner

By Randall MellSeptember 25, 2013, 3:20 pm

PGA Tour Q-School could always be counted upon to deliver a defining moment.

All the angst, tension and misery that made that hellish week so distinct from anything else in sport always seemed to crystallize itself into some poignant ending.

The last hour of Q-School could be like the theater of the absurd with mounting pressure making for some of the craziest finishes.

In 1976, Curtis Strange bogeyed his final three holes to miss getting his PGA Tour card by one shot.

In ’98, Todd Demsey needed only to two-putt from 10 feet to claim his card and three-putted.

In ’99, Jaxon Brigman shot 65 to earn his PGA Tour card, or so he thought, until learning he mistakenly signed for a 66 and missed out by a single phantom shot he never hit.

In ’04, Joe Daley watched a 4-foot putt in the fourth round go more than halfway into the cup only to hit the metal edging inside the cup and spring back out. The metal portion of the cup had been inserted crooked. Of course, it would haunt him in the final hour as he missed getting his card by one shot.

A guy could go on and on with these stories, but this is a new era, with the end of PGA Tour Q-School a year behind us and a new day dawning.

Welcome to Web.com Tour Championship week, the final event in the Web.com Tour Finals, the new series that replaced Q-School. Essentially, what the final stage of Q-School accomplished in six days has been spread over four tournaments with the awarding of 50 cards coming down to this week’s competition at the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Three-fourths into the new series, we can safely say this new model has yet to seize the imagination the way Q-School did. The same sense of wonder, or of imminent demise, isn’t there. Not yet, anyway. The drama that built so intensely over six days at Q-School hasn’t built the same way over the first three weeks of the Web.com Tour Finals. Then again, the true measure of Q-School’s worth came racing at us in that final hour or so of competition. So this new series can’t truly be judged until we reach its final hour.

This new model has brought together the top 75 players on the Web.com Tour with players who finished Nos. 126-200 on the PGA Tour money list this year. Twenty-five of the 50 cards that will be awarded on Sunday have already been secured by the top 25 money winners from the Web.com Tour’s regular season. That’s part of this event’s problem in delivering dramatic storylines to date. The Finals’ money list is just confusing enough to tempt an ordinary golf fan to turn the page.

To see who’s really fighting for the remaining 25 Tour cards this week, you have to sift through the 25 who have already secured cards but are continuing to play to improve their priority ranking for access to events next season.

As it stands today, Steve Wheatcroft is 37th on the Web.com Tour Finals money list, but he’s 25th among players who have yet to secure their cards. He’s the popular “bubble boy” going into this week, the last guy who would win a card if they were awarded today.

You still with us? Or have you turned the page?

At any rate, the 50 card winners coming out of the Web.com Tour Finals will be eligible to play in the start of the 2013-14 season in two weeks at the Frys.com Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif.

The lack of drama playing out so far may have something to do with the fact that roughly 40 of the 50 cards were virtually locked up through the first three events.

Trevor Immelman locked up his card for next season winning the series opener, the Hotel Fitness Championship. Pretty much everyone who finished top 5 in any of the first three events has already locked up their cards for next season. Andrew Svoboda won the second event of the series, the Chiquita Classic, and Seung-Yul Noh won the third event, the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. While Immelman and Svoboda are playing this week’s Web.com Tour Championship in bids to improve their overall priority ranking on the Tour Finals money list, Noh is taking the week off. Noh leads the Finals money list with $210,125 in earnings with Svoboda ($186,466) second and Immelman ($180,000) third.

The top money winner (as well as regular season No. 1 Michael Putnam) will get preferred status and an exemption into the 2014 Players Championship.

The real angst is being felt among the bubble boys in line to grab those last 10 or so cards available. While Wheatcroft holds that last spot at 37th on the Finals money list, it’s all bunched up just in front and behind him. Here’s what it looks like around the bubble:

No. 31: Greg Owen, $29,325.

No. 32: Vaughn Taylor, $29,175.

No. 34: Spencer Levin, $27,071.

No. 35: Camilo Benedetti, $26,000.

No. 36: Alistair Presnel, $25,920.

No. 37: Steve Wheatcroft, $23,925.

No. 38: Bhavik Patel, $22,341.

No. 40: Adam Crawford, $22,000.

Here’s the thing, though: With a victory worth $180,000 and a top-five finish worth no less than $40,000, all 125 players in this week’s field have a chance to win a card.

Some big-name veterans with PGA Tour victories sitting far down the Tour Finals money list still have chances to move up and claim cards this week. Rod Pampling (No. 52), Joe Durant (No. 56), D.J. Trahan (No. 64), Scott McCarron (No. 82), Len Mattiace (No. 91), Jason Gore (No. 92), Johnattan Vegas (No. 93), Chad Campbell (No. 104) and Chris DiMarco (No. 107) are all in this week’s field. 

So what’s this new qualifying series really all about? How is it different, or the same, as Q-School?

That’s what Sunday will be all about for the folks with a ticket or who tune in to watch the telecast. A lot of us will be watching to see if the Web.com Tour Finals delivers its defining moment. That's how we'll measure it against Q-School's legacy.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.