2014 Preview: Web.com Tour roundtable
What can we expect on the Web.com Tour in 2014? Our Adam Schupak and Brentley Romine take a look at the upcoming season and offer their thoughts on who will win the money title, which newcomers will have big impacts and more.
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1. Of the players who lost their PGA Tour cards last season, which one has the best chance of having a strong bounce-back 2014 season on the Web.com Tour?
- Schupak: Ben Kohles lost his card as a Tour rookie, but showed early in the season that he can compete at the highest level. Shawn Stefani twice held the lead on the weekend of Tour events before fading on Sunday. With a little more seasoning, I think both will perform better next time.
- Romine: I agree with Adam. I'm picking Stefani to win the money title, but Ben Kohles also has a good shot to regain his PGA Tour status. He has two top 15s before April in 2013, but then struggled mightily after that. Also, Henrik Norlander made seven straight cuts in the middle of 2013, but he couldn't record enough high finishes, placing better than T-41 just three times in 22 starts. Expect better from the former Augusta State player this year on the Web.com Tour.
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2. Of the top-10 finishers at Web.com Tour Q-School, who do you most plan to keep an eye on in 2014?
- Schupak: Tony Finau, who finished T-3, can hit the ball a country mile. Six years after he turned pro at age 17, Finau finally has earned Web.com Tour status. Whether the former Big Break contestant succeeds or not in making it to the Tour this year, he's going to be fun to watch.
- Romine: I'll go with medalist Zack Fischer. The Texas-Arlington product qualified for the U.S. Open last season, and he showed ability to bounce back after an opening-round 75 at Q-School to finish with rounds of 65-64-64. That's pretty impressive and it will be interesting to see how he performs this season.
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3. Which 2013 U.S. Walker Cupper will have the better season, Justin Thomas or Max Homa?
- Schupak: I think both will earn their stripes in the "25." I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas takes advantage of PGA Tour sponsor invites and pulls a Jordan Spieth -- minus representing the U.S. in the Ryder Cup team. Thomas has had great success on the Tour as an amateur and I only expect that to continue. He's destined to be a short-timer on the Web.com Tour.
- Romine: I expect both to earn their PGA Tour cards after this season, but I'll go with Homa. He's already posted one top 10 on the PGA Tour in 2014, and a top-10 finish at Web.com Tour Q-School further proves he's capable of a strong season.
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4. What other Web.com Tour newbies (graduates of Q-School, PGA Tour Latinoamerica, etc.) do you see having successful years in 2014?
- Schupak: Here are five up-and-coming players I'll be keeping my eye on: Canadian Albin Choi, Argentina's Jose Fernandez-Valdes, Korea's Si Woo Kim, and Americans Ryan Blaum and Harold Varner III.
- Romine: Harold Varner III is having quite the year on the U.S. mini-tours, and also watch out for former Florida State standout Daniel Berger. He can make birdies in bunches, evidenced by his third-round 63 at Q-School. Oh, and then there's Blayne Barber. The former Auburn standout finally has status after getting disqualified from Q-School a year ago, and you have to think he's ready to make the most of it.
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5. Who will win the 2014 money title?
- Schupak: Andres Gonzales, who lost out on a Tour card at the Web.com Tour Championship when Lee Williams holed a bomb on the final green, has a lot of incentive to get back to the PGA Tour. That would be a great story if he could follow his high school buddy Michael Putnam to the top of money list.
- Romine: Shawn Stefani shined at times last season on the PGA Tour, including holding the lead on the weekend twice in 2013. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep his card, which gives him that extra motivation to cash some paychecks this year on the Web.com Tour.