Web.com roundtable: The Finals, 59s, more
It was a memorable year in 2013 on the Web.com Tour. We saw two 59s, the debuts of the Web.com Tour Finals and Web.com Tour Q-School and more. Our Adam Schupak (@GolfweekSchupak) and Brentley Romine (@GolfweekBromine) take a look back on the season that was:
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1. Last season marked the debut of the Web.com Tour Finals. What did you think of the new system?
- Romine: It's not the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but it's still pretty exciting. It gave PGA Tour guys, such as Bud Cauley, one last chance to keep their cards. It also allowed players who finished outside of the top 25 of the Web.com money list, such as John Peterson, another chance to make it onto the PGA Tour. You won't see the unknowns graduate to the PGA Tour straight from Q-School anymore, but I think this group of 50 graduates, including the 25 from the finals, are as competitive a group as any we've seen.
- Schupak: It's good for the players who get to compete in it. They have four chances to get hot and have a strong finish. One bad round or bad tournament is less costly. And the purses are legit. What's not to like? But I don't like that there's no longer a direct path to the PGA Tour through Q-School. The Tour is too much of a closed shop. It was also too difficult to follow who was in and who was out, and it diminished the value of having a good full-season. I expect some changes will be made but the new system is here to stay.
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2. Twenty-five players earned their PGA Tour card for next season via the 2013 Web.com Tour money list while another 25 earned their cards via the Finals. Which card earners were pleasant surprises? Who are you surprised didn't earn their card?
- Romine: It was nice to see Cauley hold onto his PGA Tour card. He struggled with the putter in 2013, but I think Cauley will return to his 2012 form, if not better, in 2014. Also, it will be exciting to see guys like Ryo Ishikawa, Jamie Lovemark, John Peterson and Patrick Cantlay on the big tour in 2014. As for those who didn't earn their cards, Shawn Stefani stands out. He played well on the PGA Tour early in 2013 and definitely has the talent to compete on the big level. Also, it was tough seeing Steven Alker miss out on a PGA Tour card. He finished just more than $1,000 out of the 25th spot on the money list before failing to earn his card via the Finals, as well.
- Schupak: I was surprised to see Bud Cauley struggle to retain his card. I expect he'll put his sophomore slump behind him and earn his first win next year. I was pleasantly surprised to see Will MacKenzie make it back to the Tour and good to see a healthy Jamie Lovemark, who has loads of talent, get another shot in the big leagues.
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3. What was the most dominating winning performance this past season?
- Romine: I almost went with Seung-Yul Noh's five-shot victory at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship, but how about Mark Anderson's wire-to-wire victory at the BMW Charity Pro-Am. Sure, scores were low, but Anderson birdied the first two holes of the tournament, shot rounds of 63-67-64-65 and finished five shots clear of the field at 27 under.
- Schupak: Web.com Player of the Year Michael Putnam won back-to-back starts and nearly earned a Battlefield Promotion. He was the most dominant player and now it's time to stick on the PGA Tour on his third go-round.
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4. Two 59s were shot in 2013, one by Will Wilcox at the Utah Championship and the other by Russell Knox at the Boise Open. Which one was more impressive?
- Romine: While Wilcox's 59 came in the same tournament that Chad Collins shot 60, I will still go with that one. Wilcox made 10 birdies and an eagle to achieve his number. Plus, he did it in the final round.
- Schupak: Comparing 59s by the American Wilcox and the Scot Knox is a little bit like comparing the finest bottle of Napa wine with a 20-year aged bottle of Scotch, don't you think? The crazy thing is neither of them won the tournament where they broke the 60-barrier, Knox told me his best round of the year was the final-round 69 he shot in the Web.com Tour Championship to secure his card. So slight edge to Wilcox, who told me over the phone the day after joining the 59 club that his Grandpa was going to love seeing his grandson's name in Golfweek. Tie always goes to the loyal subscriber.
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5. This year also marked the debut of Web.com Tour Q-School. What was your impression of it?
- Romine: I don't think it had quite the same appeal to it as the old Q-School, but it wasn't horrible. Zack Fischer had a great tournament en route to medalist honors, and it was nice to see Max Homa inside the top 10. The biggest thing for me is that everyone earned some kind of status. It wasn't finish inside a certain position or go home, so that appeal was missing. But all in all, not a bad first go-around for the new Q-School.
- Schupak: I'm happy for the players that earned their card. Status is king. They are a step closer to their actual goal of the PGA Tour. But Q-School used to be one of my favorite events to cover; now it feels like an afterthought. The Quick fix? I would like to see the top-5 finishers earn Tour privileges.