Cauley one back of McCarron at Web.com Finals opener

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Apparently it’s not too late for Scott McCarron to keep his PGA Tour hopes alive.

The 48-year-old, who missed nine of 10 cuts on the PGA and Web.com tours this season, opened with an 8-under 64 Thursday in the opening round of the Hotel Fitness Championship, the first event of the new Web.com Tour Finals.

This four-event series, not Q-School, will help determine which players graduate to the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season. The top 25 money earners after these four tournaments will receive Tour cards, joining the previous 25 players who finished atop the Web.com Tour money list.

The Web.com Tour Finals brings together the top 25 on the Web.com money list as well as Nos. 126-200 on the FedEx Cup points list, the non-members who were inside the top 200 and those who were playing on special medical exemptions.

McCarron fell in the latter category, as the three-time Tour winner has been battling thumb and wrist injuries.

On Thursday at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Ind., McCarron played his last four holes in 4 under, including an eagle on the par-5 15th, to shoot 64 and sit one shot ahead of Bud Cauley and Jason Gore.

It’s a surprise that Cauley (No. 131 in FedEx Cup points) is even in this position. The former Alabama All-American was under consideration for the 2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award but had a disappointing sophomore campaign that included just three top 25s in 24 starts. The 23-year-old shot a back-nine 31 and is in good shape after Round 1.

Other notable names in the field include Trevor Immelman (67), Ricky Barnes (68), Patrick Cantlay (68), Sean O’Hair (70) and Chris DiMarco (71).