Every tops Sim to win Nationwide Tour finale
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Here’s what you need to know after a topsy-turvy final round at the Nationwide Tour Championship, where 25 players walked away with PGA Tour cards when the dust settled:
• After close calls at Q-School and on the Nationwide Tour money list, Matt Every won the Nationwide Tour Championship to earn his first pro victory and first PGA Tour card. Every shot 5-under 67 in the final round to finish at 21-under 267, three shots ahead of playing partner Michael Sim (69).
Every missed his PGA Tour card by two shots and three shots at the past two Q-Schools, and finished 34th on last year’s Nationwide Tour money list.
“The demons were there. I didn’t want to go to Q-School this year at all,” Every said. “You want to draw back on good experiences, but my last good experience was I won a college event my senior year. That was my last win.”
This week, Every made just one bogey and one double bogey. He had 22 birdies and an eagle.
He switched to cross-handed putting last week on the recommendation of his old college coach, Buddy Alexander. Every was a three-time first-team All-American at Florida and member of the 2005 U.S. Walker Cup team. He turned pro in 2006.
“I played great this week,” Every said. “I normally don’t putt like I putted this week.”
ROUND OF THE DAY: Craig Bowden started the day projected to finish 26th on the money list, but tied the low round of the day with a 66 to earn his PGA Tour card.
“It’s nice to rise to the occasion when you have to,” he said. “I’m damn proud of myself.”
Bowden started the week 24th in money, but had fallen out of the projected top 25 after playing his first 12 holes Saturday in 1 over par. He turned things around after a brief internal conversation, playing his final 24 holes 9 under par to finish at 11-under 277.
“Yesterday, I had a gut-check on 13,” he said. “I was out there kind of crybabying around a little bit, saying, ‘What are you doing? You don’t deserve to play on Tour playing like this.’ ... On the 13th, I said, ‘You’ve got a chance here to ... avoid having to go to (Q-School).”
Next year will be the sixth on the PGA Tour for Bowden, 41.
MOVING IN/OUT: Every and Steve Wheatcroft were the only players to move into the top 25 on the money list this week. Every improved from 49th to 10th with his victory, while Wheatcroft tied for third to move from 31st to 20th. Brian Stuard (23rd to 26th) and Alistair Presnell (25th to 28th) were the two players to get bumped.
In the 16 previous Nationwide Tour Championships, only five times had the “bubble boy” entering the event ended up earning a PGA Tour card.
CLOSE CALLS: Stuard lipped out an 8-foot birdie putt on his final hole that would’ve earned him a Tour card; he lipped out three birdie putts inside 10 feet on the final nine holes.
Esteban Toledo, 47, needed to finish solo third to finish in the top 25 on the money list. Toledo, who made a hole-in-one Saturday, finished two shots short of that mark and tied for fifth at 12 under par. He made just two birdies Sunday to shoot 71. He finished his round with seven consecutive pars after a birdie on the par-5 11th.
Fabian Gomez was projected to finish in the top 25 on the money list after birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 6. He moved out of the projected top 25 with a bogey at No. 8, then bogeyed Nos. 9 and 12. Gomez birdied his final two holes, but finished 27th on the money list, about $6,000 short of his PGA Tour card.
CONSOLATION PRIZE: Sim may have fell short of a record-tying fourth victory this season, but his runner-up finish helped him break the tour’s single-season earnings record. He finished the season with $644,142, $149,133 more than Troy Matteson in 2005. Sim finished in the top 3 in six of 14 starts this year, including three victories.
Sim will play next week’s PGA Tour event, the Viking Classic, then return to his native Australia to play in several Australasian Tour events. Sim started this week No. 69 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He said his goal is to crack the top 50 by the end of the year so he can earn an invitation to the 2010 Masters. Sim made the cut at both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship this year, tying for 18th at Bethpage Black.