Web.com Tour Championship: The Next Wave Indeed!!!

20170928_105625The Web.com Tour Championship, the exciting and concluding fourth playoff event, could not be hosted in a better place. The Atlantic Beach Country Club is only six blocks, less than a half mile, from the beach of its namesake ocean. The new pitch of the Web.com Tour promotion, is “The Next Wave,” and the waves are coming in fast and furious as the stars of tomorrow, and yesterday, compete for the remaining twenty-five 2017-2018 PGA TOUR cards.

Already, there are all sorts of waves and currents starting to flow in Round One, some coming into shore to shore up their tour card for next season and some going out to be lost at sea perhaps for the remainder of their playing career. What’s unique about the Web.com Tour Championship is that it pits Numbers 126-to-200 in FedEx Points on the PGA TOUR against Numbers 1-to-75 on the Money List of the Web.com Tour for an additional twenty-five PGA TOUR cards. Those cards are awarded solely on the basis of money won in the four playoff events. Web.com Tour players with a guaranteed tour card can play to improve their position for vetting into highly desired tour events next season.

20170928_110359The first twenty-five tour cards have already been awarded to the Top-25, the Golden Boys, of the 22-event regular season (in order of finish, then (country, age; Web.com career starts, wins, wins this Web.com season; PGA TOUR starts, wins): 1. Brice Garnett (USA, 34; 104, 2, 2; 75, 0), 2. Sam Ryder (USA, 27; 45, 1, 1; 1, 0), 3. Abraham Ancer (Mexico, 26; 60, 1, 0; 20, 0), 4. Andrew Landry (USA, 30; 53, 2, 1; 19, 0), 5. Stephan Jaegar (Germany, 28; 73, 3, 2; 4, 0), 6. Talor Gooch (USA, 25; 22, 1, 1; 2, 0), 7. Kyle Thompson (USA, 38: 292, 5, 1; 55, 0), 8. Andrew Putnam (USA, 28; 93, 2, 1; 25, 0), 9. Chesson Hadley (USA, 30; 44, 4, 2; 96, 1), 10. Ben Silverman (Canada, 29; 38, 1, 1; 1, 0), 11. Nate Lashley (USA, 34; 50, 1, 1; 1, 0), 12. Adam, Schenk (USA, 25; 48, 1, 1; 0, 0), 13. Andrew Yun (USA, 26; 70, 0, 0; 0, 0), 14. Ted Potter Jr. (USA, 33; 109, 2, 0; 75, 1), 15. Austin Cook (USA, 26; 51, 0, 0; 10, 0), 16. Zecheng ‘Marty’ Dou (China, 20; 24, 1, 1; 3, 0), 17. Conrad Shindler (USA, 29; 25, 1, 1; 2, 0), 18. Aaron Wise (USA, 21; 16, 1, 1; 8, 0), 19. Matt Atkins (USA, 26; 65, 1, 1; 2, 0), 20. Xinjun Zhang (China, 30; 23, 0, 0; 2, 0), 21. Brandon Harkins (USA, 31; 26, 0, 0; 1, 0), 22. Lanto Griffin (USA, 29; 24, 1, 1; 2, 0), 23. Beau Hossler (USA, 22; 14, 0, 0; 12, 0), 24. Ethan Tracy (25, 1, 1; 4, 0), 25. Roberto Diaz (Mexico, 30; 80, 0, 0; 5, 0).

20170928_165029Interestingly, four of the Golden 25 are not here—Gooch (No. 6), Putnam (8), Wise (18), and Hossler (23)—presumably focusing on next week’s 2017-2018 PGA TOUR Season Opener, the Safeway Classic at Silverado in Napa. California. A true wrap-around season! Only two have won previously on the PGA TOUR—Chesson Hadley (2013 Puerto Rico Open) and Ted Potter Jr. (2012 Greenbrier Classic). United States Kyle Thompson is the oldest at age 38 while China’s Zecheng ‘Marty’ Dou is the youngest at age 20.

For the most part, the wave coming ashore for sure, the Golden 25 of the Web.com Tour, is young with little PGA TOUR experience. The opposite is true for the PGA TOUR’s Numbers 126-to-200 trying to stay ashore on the PGA TOUR for another year.

One of the most interesting visuals of the beach is the interaction of the waves coming in, already crested, already shallowed out and flowing gently to the sandy beach. At times they are met by receding waves, yet to fully dissipate, rebounded by the slope of the beach back towards the open ocean. When these two waterflows intersect it is as a zipper is closing with a stream of water shot upwards. Herein you have the competition this week between the aspiring and perspiring, the incoming and the receding the young and the old, and the future and the past of professional golf on the PGA TOUR.

20170928_082338Familiar names in the 2016-2017 PGA TOUR FedExCup Final Points List Numbers 126-to-200 playing this week at Atlantic Beach CC include Sam Saunders (129), Ricky Barnes (139), Chad Collins (143), Matt Jones (152), Jonathan Byrd (170), Ryo Ishikawa (175), Hunter Mahan (182), Stuart Appleby (192), Ken Duke (193), and Angel Cabrera (195).

Familiar names of Numbers 126-to-150 that are in the upper echelon of players with lots of past champions’ status to garner starts next season and that are not playing this week include Jim Furyk (No. 157), Retief Goosen (162), Vijay Singh (178), Davis Love III (185), and Padraig Harrington (200).

 

Other Numbers 126-to-200 more fortunate and otherwise exempt on the PGA TOUR in 2016-2017 include Shane Lowery (No. 127, 2015 WGC- Bridgestone), Billy Hurley III (135, 2016 Quicken Loans National), Graeme McDowell (136, 2016 Mayakoba), Aaron Baddeley (138, 2016 Barbasol), Smylie Kaufman (141, 2015 Shriners in 2015-2016 Season), Brian Stuard (145, 2016 Zurich Classic), Peter Malnati (167, 2015 Sanderson Farms in 2015-2016 Season), Matt Every (168, 2014 and 2015 Arnold Palmer Invitational), Fabian Gomez (171, 2015 FedEx St. Jude and 2016 SONY Open), Greg Chalmers (173, 2016 Barracuda).

Gets complicated really fast, lots of different forces impacting players through other players as well. Just like the beach. Then throw in a hurricane or a Nor’easter and the waters go every which way.

IMG24897Jonathan Byrd is on both lists—No. 55 on the 2017 Web.com Tour Regular Season Final Money List and No. 170 on the 2016-2017 PGA TOUR FedExCup Final Points List. But the goal is to be No. 1 like Brice Garnett was on the regular 2017 Web.com Tour and have exempt status and an invite to the 2018 PLAYERS Championship. The No. 1 money-earner in the 4-evetn Finals will also be entitled to the same niceties!

Surfing safely to shore are the winners of the first three Playoff events—Peter Uihlein won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Chesson Hadley won the Albertson’s Boise Open, and Nicholas Lindheim won the DAP Championship. Hadley and Lindheim are competing at Atlantic Beach CC this week while Uihlein, eligible via the Non-Member FedExCup Points List is currently No. 14 and competing in the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. There are many oceans in the world of golf!

20170928_165143Bubble Boys come to mind during playoff time. Sometimes bubbles burst and implode, other times, as in the case of regular season Bubble Boy Keith Mitchell, bubbles crystalize into diamond globes to sustain one’s economic future going forward!

Mitchell, a meaningless No, 26 after the regular season has posted two T2 finishes in the playoffs and is now golden at No. 6 in the Finals Money List to become a holder of one of those additional twenty-five PGA TOUR cards to be given out on Sunday afternoon.

The Web.com Tour Championship, an exciting, complicated and serious golfing competition. One thing is for sure–The Next Wave is indeed coming!