2013-14 Preview: Who's the best Web.com grad?FORT WAYNE, IN - SEPTEMBER 01: Patrick Cantlay hits his tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the 2013 Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club on September 1, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)October 02, 2013
By PGATOUR.COM Staff
Fifty players earned PGA TOUR membership through the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals. They were a mixture of young hot-shots and veterans seeking a return to the TOUR. Which of these 50 players will win on TOUR this season? Could it be Michael Putnam, who won the Regular Season money title? Or John Peterson, the Web.com Tour Finals' leading earner? What about Chesson Hadley, who won the Web.com Tour Championship and won the most combined money in the Regular Season and Web.com Tour Finals.
History has shown that we can expect multiple Web.com Tour graduates to win on the PGA TOUR this season. Maybe one can even win a major, a la Keegan Bradley in 2011, in his first TOUR season after graduating the Web.com Tour. See who our panel thinks will be top of the Web.com Tour’s graduating class:
Mike McAllister, Managing Editor: Ben Martin. The Web.com Tour leader in scoring average and all-around ranking. Good enough for me. This will be Martin's second season on TOUR, so he'll have the benefit of some familiarity with the courses and life out there.
Helen Ross, Chief of Correspondents: Michael Putnam. Four finishes of third or better, including two victories, should send Michael Putnam to the PGA TOUR with great confidence.
Brian Wacker, Site Producer: Seung-yul Noh. After a miserable season in which he missed 13 of 25 cuts with just one top 10 on the PGA TOUR, Noh's win at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship was a shot of confidence. The 2013 season was also one of change with Noh adjusting to an equipment change. I think he bounces back.
Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist: John Peterson. Easy choice. The Web.com Tour Finals leading money winner is a big-game performer with a swagger to match. Huge bonus that he’s exempt from the reshuffle and already exempt into THE PLAYERS.
John Swantek, Host, On The Tee: John Peterson. He didn't win in the Web.com Tour Finals, but he was the best player in that four-event series, finishing in the top five in all four events. The former NCAA champion from LSU has tons of game and his confidence is never in short supply. His strong ballstriking -- he led the Web.com Tour in greens in regulation (75 percent) -- makes him a consistent contender. He had 13 top-25s in 18 Web.com Tour starts in 2013, and finished the season with five consecutive top-5 finishes.
Amanda Balionis, Host, PGA TOUR Today: Patrick Cantlay. Battling a back injury, Cantlay still carded a runner-up finish at the Hotel Fitness Championship in the Web.com Tour Finals to clinch his PGA TOUR card. He has shown he can be successful on the PGA TOUR as well. Let us not forget the course record he set at the Travelers Championship two years ago. If Cantlay can remain healthy all year, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Chris Dunham, Site Producer: Patrick Cantlay. He's made the cut in 15 of 22 TOUR starts and back in 2011 Cantlay went five-for-five in cuts made on TOUR and shot a second-round 60 at the Travelers Championship.
Bryan Mullen, Site Producer: Chesson Hadley. He won twice on the Web.com Tour in 2013, including the Tour Championship. He's primed and ready to make noise playing alongside the big boys. He had eight top-10s this year, including five top-3 finishes (two wins, one runner-up and two third-place showings).
Ryan Smithson, Site Producer: John Peterson. Has enough confidence for five people, which is why he will win more than once next year. Isn't prone to slumps.
John Schwarb, Site Producer: John Peterson. The top earner in the Web.com Tour Finals didn't get all his cash in one week. Instead, he put together an amazing run with T-5, T-3, 3rd and T-2 finishes. That shows me he's built for the long haul on the PGA TOUR. He closed the season on quite a hot streak, finishing in the top five in five conscutive events.
Bill Cooney, Site Producer: Patrick Cantlay. Peterson will have a big season, but so will Cantlay -- if healthy. Cantlay (back) had one victory and a runner-up finish on the Web.com Tour; also had a T9 at AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It was only two years ago that Cantlay was the game's hot young prospect, finishing in the top 25 in four consecutive TOUR starts as an amateur. That stretch included low-amateur honors at the U.S. Open at Congressional and a 60 at the Travelers Championship. Cantlay has already seen three teammates from the 2011 Walker Cup -- Jordan Spieth, Russell Henley, Harris English -- won on TOUR, and there's no doubt he wants to join them soon.
Anne Detlefsen, Site Producer: Patrick Cantlay. His determination toward the season's end to earn his TOUR card was impressive. He played through a pretty serious back injury, and still managed a solo second at the Hotel Fitness to finish 11th on the Finals money list.
Sean Martin, Events Editor: John Peterson. I already picked another Web.com Tour grad, Bud Cauley, to be this season's "breakout" player. I expect big things out of Peterson, as well. Don't forget he almost won the 2012 U.S. Open, finishing T-4. He's had some good showings in his limited time on TOUR, making 11 of 15 cuts with two top-10 finishes.