GREENSBORO, N.C. – Ryo Ishikawa has the eyes of a nation on him whenever he tees it up. They’ll follow him to the Web.com Tour for four weeks starting Aug. 29. Ishikawa, a two-time Presidents Cup participant, is headed to the Web.com Tour Finals to try to regain his PGA TOUR playing privileges.
Ishikawa was ranked 141st in the FedExCup after the Wyndham Championship; the top 125 retained full playing privileges for the 2013-14 season and qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs. The 21-year-old from Japan made the cut in 13 of 23 starts in 2013, highlighted by a T-10 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. He closed his season with consecutive top-30 finishes at the PGA Championship (T-29) and Wyndham (T-26), the final event before the Playoffs.
“I have confidence in my game now, so I’m excited, “ Ishikawa said. “I’m looking forward to the next four events, and hopefully getting into contention and seeing you guys next year.”
The race to crack the top 200 in the FedExCup standings was arguably the biggest drama in the Wyndham Championship’s final round Sunday. Because PGA TOUR cards are only available through the Web.com Tour Finals, any player who missed the Finals would not be able to earn his way back to the PGA Tour for the 2013-14 season. The top 25 money earners in the four-event Finals earn PGA TOUR cards for next season.
Andres Gonzales the man best known for his Fu Manchu facial hair, was impressive on the golf course Sunday. He shot a final-round 64 at the Wyndham to qualify for the Finals, while Jin Park qualified with his first top-25 of the season.
Twenty-five PGA TOUR cards will be available at the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals, which start with the Hotel Fitness Championship in Fort Wayne, Ind. It’s followed by the Chiquita Classic on Sept. 5-8 in Davidson, N.C.; the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship on Sept. 12-15 in Columbus, Ohio and the Web.com Tour Championship on Sept. 26-29 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. All four Finals events will have a $1 million purse.
Ishikawa , a 10-time winner on the Japan Tour, is one of several notable names scheduled to take part in the inaugural Finals, which features Nos. 126-200 in the FedExCup and Nos. 1-75 on the Web.com Tour money list. Chris DiMarco, Bud Cauley and Ricky Barnes have said they intend to participate in the Finals. Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and four-time TOUR winner Sean O’Hair are among the notables who would have to participate to regain their full PGA TOUR playing privileges.
“I have to,” Barnes, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up and a former U.S. Amateur champion, replied when asked if he planned to play Web.com Tour Finals. He finished 132nd in the FedExCup. “It’s the only way I can get my card back.”
Gonzales started the Wyndham at No. 238 in the FedExCup after making just two of his first 16 cuts in 2013. He made four birdies and an eagle Sunday to finish eighth, his first top-10 in 42 career PGA TOUR starts. He moved to 198th in the FedExCup after the Wyndham. Gonzales was en route to the scoring trailer when he was informed he had moved inside the FedExCup’s top 200. He slammed his hand against the aluminum railing in celebration.
“It’s huge,” Gonzales, 30, said. “It’s been a really frustrating year and to finish the year this way has been fun. I was out here on a free roll and just trying to enjoy myself.”
Park didn’t have as much work to do at the Wyndham, but had to make the cut to earn his way into the Finals. He started the week at No. 202 in the FedExCup. His 20th-place finish, his best of the year, moved him to No. 189.
“I knew what I needed to do,” Park said. And he did it.