Derek Fathauer picked a great moment to score his first victory, winning the Web.com Tour Championship Sunday. He will be fully exempt on the PGA Tour next season.
Floridian Fathauer, who played his college golf at Louisville, shot a 2-under 68 at TPC Sawgrass’ Valley Course to beat Zac Blair by one shot. Fathauer, who led the Finals money list, and Adam Hadwin, who led the combined regular-season and Finals money list, will both be fully exempt for next season and will receive a spot in the field at the 2015 Players Championship.
Blair entered the tournament tied for 118th on the priority list and moved all the way up to 11th to earn a PGA Tour card. He had missed the cut in each of his four previous tournaments.
Eric Axley shot a final-round 68 to move into the 50th and last spot to earn a card.
While Fathauer, Blair and Axley were experiencing the ecstasy of success, others were dealing with the agony of defeat. None moreso than Travis Bertoni, who missed a putt from inside 4 feet on the final hole that cost him a PGA Tour card. Roberto Castro bogeyed the 16th hole and finished $32 out of 50th place.
Fifty cards were technically up for grabs, but 25 were already spoken for before Sunday. The top 25 regular-season money earners from the Web.com Tour are all heading to the main circuit next season, though their priority ranking was to be determined this weekend in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The remaining 25 cards go to the top earners from the month-long Finals series.
The 50 graduates will be ranked from 1-50 based on earnings, and that ranking will be used to determine who gets into events during the first portion of the new PGA Tour season. The players with the highest rankings will likely get more starts.
After Hadwin and Fathauer, the rankings alternate between players who began the Finals without a PGA Tour card and those who had already earned a card by virtue of their Web.com Tour regular-season earnings.
Research by Golf Central's Justin Ray.