Web.com Tour: 10 New Faces to Watch
Web.com Tour president Bill Calfee calls 2013 a “new era” for the circuit he oversees. Next season we'll see the inaugural playing of the Web.com Tour Finals, a four-tournament series that will replace Q-School. The Web.com Tour Finals ensure all 50 PGA Tour cards will come from the tour and put four $1-million events on the schedule. Under the PGA Tour’s new qualifying format, most young prospects will have to make a stop on the Web.com Tour before moving on to the big show. Here’s 10 new faces who will do so in 2013:
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1. Patrick Cantlay
The former world No. 1 amateur, who turned pro after the 2012 U.S. Open, will likely find himself on the Web.com Tour after failing to get his PGA Tour card at Q-School. He made a brief visit to the Web.com Tour this fall after finding little PGA Tour success (made 6 of 7 cuts, zero top-25s) at the start of his pro career. He had a runner-up and fifth-place finish in four 2012 Web.com Tour starts to finish 79th on the money list. Don’t look for him to be on this circuit very long.
Cantlay made four PGA Tour starts earlier this year, missing three cuts and finishing T-9 at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He also has a start lined up at the Puerto Rico Open. PGA Tour non-members are allowed a maximum of seven sponsor exemptions per season.
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2. John Peterson
He has starts lined up at the 2013 Masters and U.S. Open, but will spend most of his year on the Web.com Tour. Peterson earned invitations to the year’s first two majors by virtue of his T-4 at the U.S. Open, where he finished two shots back of winner Webb Simpson. The money earned at Olympic Club ensured Peterson of Web.com Tour status for 2013. He’s finished in the top-25 in both his career Web.com Tour starts, including a T-2 as an amateur at the 2011 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational. Peterson also has an exemption into the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.
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3. Meen-Whee Kim
The 20-year-old Korean was the mid-way leader at Q-School, but faltered with three consecutive rounds of par or worse to fall into a tie for 43rd. Q-School’s pressure can get the best of people. Kim still should be considered a promising prospect. He won this year’s Shinhan Donghae Open in his native Korea, beating PGA Tour players Kevin Na, Paul Casey, Charlie Wi, Seung-Yul Noh and John Huh. He also was third at the 2011 Korea Open, behind only Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy. Kim said at Q-School that he intended to play the United States in 2013, whether that be the PGA or Web.com tours. He is exempt from his country’s mandatory military service after winning gold at the Asian Games, the continent’s version of the Olympics.
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4. Andrew Loupe
The long-hitting Loupe, an LSU teammate of Peterson, was one prospect who agents were eager to sign at Q-School. Loupe, an all-state basketball player in high school who became a collegiate golf All-American, turned pro in 2011. He shot a clutch 64 – playing his final 13 holes in 9 under – at Q-School’s second stage to advance to finals and earn next year's Web.com Tour status. He’s made the cut in four of seven Web.com Tour starts, including three top-25s. Don’t be surprised if he leads the Web.com Tour in driving distance next year. Loupe has finished in the top 5 in six of 19 career NGA Tour starts.
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5. David Lipsky
He turned pro in 2011 after earning honorable-mention All-American honors at Northwestern, and quickly found success on the Asian Tour. He won the tour’s Q-School and the Handa Faldo Cambodian Classic in his third start. He finished third at the Maybank Malaysian Open, a co-sanctioned European Tour event, two starts later, finishing ahead of major winners Charl Schwartzel and Martin Kaymer. Lipsky finished 11th on the Asian Tour’s order of merit as a rookie.
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6. Chesson Hadley
Hadley was one of six players who advanced out of Q-School’s first stage when Blayne Barber disqualified himself six days after the event. Hadley was the only one of the half-dozen to advance to Q-School’s final stage, where he earned full Web.com Tour status. Hadley, a former Georgia Tech All-American, finished second on this year’s eGolf Professional Tour money list with seven top-5s in 22 starts.
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7. Ariel Canete
The 37-year-old from Argentina arrives on the Web.com Tour after winning the order of merit in PGA Tour Latinoamerica’s inaugural season. Canete won’t be a rookie – he held conditional status way back in 1996 – but has made just nine Web.com Tour starts in his career; his last start in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event was a T-39 at the 2008 Open Championship. He earned $91,395 on PGA Tour Latinoamerica this season, more than $20,000 ahead of the order of merit’s second-place finisher. Canete won twice this year on PGA Tour Latinoamerica. He finished in the top 5 six times in 11 starts.
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8. Matt Hill
The 2009 NCAA champion and player of the year is starting to make progress in his pro career. He advanced to Q-School finals for the first time this year after winning the Canadian Tour order of merit. He also made the cut at this year’s Canadian Open on the PGA Tour.
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9. Bhavik Patel
Patel, a semifinalist at the 2009 U.S. Amateur, turned pro this year after completing his career at Fresno State. He’s been quite successful in California amateur golf over the past two summers, winning this year’s Southern California Amateur by eight shots and the 2011 California Amateur. He finished second at Q-School’s second stage to PGA Tour rookie-to-be Si Woo Kim, then placed 49th at final stage.
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10. Lee Bedford
Bedford, a former Wake Forest All-American, almost earned a PGA Tour card in his first pro season. He was tied for 30th entering Q-School’s final round (the top 25 and ties earn PGA Tour cards), but shot a final-round 75 to drop to T-64. He still earned full Web.com Tour status, guaranteeing him some consistent playing time in his first full season as a pro.