5 Things: PGA Tour cards on the line at Web.com finale

Casey Wittenberg

The Web.com Tour Championship begins Thursday at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. The top 60 on the tour’s money list are competing for a $1 million purse, including a $180,000 winner’s check. The big bounty means that every player in the field has a chance of moving into the top 25 on the money list and earning a PGA Tour card. Here are 5 Things you need to know before play gets under way:

1. MONEY MATTERS: The money list will be the focal point this week, as the top 25 at week’s end earn PGA Tour cards for 2013. Camilo Benedetti, a 33-year-old from Colombia, currently holds down the 25th spot. He’s never held a PGA Tour card in 10 years as a pro, but he’s been close. He missed his card by a shot at Q-School in 2010 after making bogey on the final hole. He was in fourth place through two rounds of last year’s Web.com Tour Championship before shooting 74-73 to finish fifth at 4-under 284, three shots away from earning a PGA Tour card.

Benedetti is just $287 ahead of No. 26 Doug Labelle II on this year’s money list.

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2. LOOKING OUT FOR NO. 1: The all-important No. 1 spot on the money list also is up for grabs this week. The Web.com Tour’s leading money winner earns entry into the following year’s Players Championship and is fully exempt for the entire Tour season, meaning he is eligible for every “open” PGA Tour event. The other 24 Web.com Tour graduates get into tournaments on a space-available basis, and their standing in their eligibility category is reshuffled throughout the season based on money earned.

Casey Wittenberg holds down the No. 1 spot with $407,453, including two victories. He leads No. 2 Luke Guthrie by $22,860. Guthrie has made just nine starts this season, compared to 23 for Wittenberg.

Russell Henley is third at $365,366. Wittenberg, Guthrie and Henley are three of the five two-time winners this season. Shawn Stefani, who’s fifth on the money list with $303,311, and sixth-ranked Ben Kohles, who’s earned $300,652, also have won twice. Luke List is fourth on the money list with $345,539.

Players who win three times in a season also are fully-exempt for the following PGA Tour season, so a player who picks up his third win this week, but doesn't win the money title, will enjoy the same benefits as the leading money winner.

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3. HENLEY’S HOT: Russell Henley is contending for the money title on the Web.com Tour, just weeks after he was worried about making the Tour Championship. Henley has won two of his past three starts, including last week’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open to move to third on the money list. Henley was 88th on the money list at the start of August.

He finished third in between his victories at the Chiquita Classic and Jacksonville Open, earning $247,800 in those three weeks. “I’m just happy to be competing,” the 23-year-old said. “I just love feeling nervous, feeling the pressure and having to hit shots and I think that’s helped me out.”

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4. MAKING A MOVE: Three players moved inside the top 60 on the money list after last week’s Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. By earning Tour Championship tee times, that trio kept alive their hopes of earning PGA Tour cards.

B.J. Staten, who finished second in Jacksonville after losing a playoff to Henley, made the biggest move, jumping from 69th to 32nd ($141,521). Ben Martin, the 2009 U.S. Amateur runner-up finished third in Jacksonville to move from 94th to 60th ($94,903) on the money list and earn the final spot in the Tour Championship. Kevin Foley finished fifth to go from 66th to 54th ($101,536). He shot 67 in the Jacksonville Open’s final round to move up 10 spots on the leaderboard.

Duffy Waldorf (55th to 61st), Aron Price (57th to 63rd) and Jeff Gove (60th to 65th) dropped out of the top 60 last week.

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5. HOFFMANN’S HOPES: Morgan Hoffmann, a 2011 first-team All-American at Oklahoma State, started this season without status after failing to advance out of the second stage of PGA Tour Q-School. He’s used sponsor exemptions and Monday qualifiers to piece together 12 starts on the Web.com Tour schedule. He’s 31st on the money list ($149,540) thanks to six top 10s in those 12 starts. His tie for 30th last week in Jacksonville ended a streak of four consecutive top 10s, including a playoff loss at the Chiquita Classic. Hoffmann also finished 29th at this year’s U.S. Open.

Hoffmann trails the 25th position on the money list by $19,401.

The top 40 on the Web.com Tour money list at week’s end also earn exemptions into the final stage of Q-School.

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