by Jeff Skinner
A very busy weekend…
Pressure Packed Card Game: There was plenty of pressure on the professional golfers that call The Nationwide Tour home this weekend. The Tour Championship is the final tour stop and the last chance to move up the money list into the top twenty five and earn a PGA Tour Card. Matt Every began this week at forty nine on the money list. He knew he would have to have a great finish to avoid coming back to the Nationwide Tour again next season. With scores of 70-63-67-67 he did better just that. Every cruised to a three stroke win over the tour’s leading money winner, and PGA Tour Card holder, Michael Sim. Every, a veteran of The Golf Channel’s Big Break, had failed to get through Q-School the past two years, but will not have to worry about that this year. He’ll be teeing it up with the big boys on The PGA Tour.
The only other player to move into the top twenty five and earn his card was Steve Wheatcroft. With his third place finish he moved up from thirty first to twentieth on the money list. Sadly, for each player that moves into the top twenty five there is another player that is bumped out. That unfortunate distinction fell on Brian Stuard, he fell to twenty sixth and Alistair Presnell, who fell to twenty eighth.
In the “feel good” news section this week is Fran Quinn. He is the forty four year old dedicated professional who has been playing the minor league tours for years. He was on the PGA Tour briefly in 1992 but has failed to ever make it back. This year was going to be different. Quinn came into the Tour Championship at number twenty on the money list and needed to play solid golf to secure his card. Then he gets sick. A urinary tract infection hit Quinn and almost cost him the card. After spending Saturday night in a hospital getting intravenous antibiotics, he hung on and played well enough to land at twenty five on the money list and grabs the last PGA Tour Card. Welcome back to the big show Mr. Quinn.
PGA Tour Card for Matteson: On the PGA Tour young Rickie Fowler might be playing the “what if” game. What if he didn’t bogey his final hole? He would have shot seven under 63 for the day, finished at nineteen under and been one stroke clear of Troy Matteson and Jamie Lovemark and won the Frys.com Open for his first professional win. But, it was not to be. Even with Matteson stumbling down the stretch with bogies on the last two holes, he hung on to win the playoff and his second PGA Tournament. Matteson needed this win. He was 131st on the PGA Tour money list and in danger of losing his playing privileges for 2010. You have to give him some credit; he is a real hard worker. This was his thirtieth tournament of the year and his first top ten. His winner’s check of $900,000 puts him just shy of $1.5 million and seventy eighth on the money list and he gets another two year exemption on the tour.
LPGA Ladies in Japan: This week Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer decided to jet off to Asia to play in the Masters GC Ladies in Miki, Japan. The LPGA’s Asian swing starts this week in South Korea, so they figured they would get a jump on adjusting to the jet lag and play a little meaningful golf. It paid off for Lewis as she played well enough to finish in a tie for seventh place. With the LPGA’s schedule getting smaller next season we’ll see more players making the effort to play tournaments in Asia and Europe.
Jonzon Gets His Card: At the European Tour’s Castello Masters, Michael Jonzon of Sweden looked to have the tournament in the bag after a five under, thirty one on the front nine and a three stroke lead. His back nine wasn’t so friendly. After a double bogey on fifteen and a bogey on seventeen he lost three strokes to the field and fell into a three way tie going into eighteen with Martin Kaymer and Christian Nilsson. With the tournament on the line, Jonzon steadied himself and rolled in his birdie putt on the last to get to -20 and claim his first victory in twelve years. Jonzon needed a top two finish to keep his European Tour card, after this win he is all set.
Champions Card for Blackmar: It’s not only the young golfers looking to secure a tour card and ensure that they have a place to play next year. On the Champions Tour at The AT&T Championship, Phil Blackmar’s one stroke win earned him his first Champion’s Tour title, $255,000, a two year exemption and the last spot in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Nice way to finish Phil.