Bubble watch: Who could crack top 125?
August 15, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Andrew Loupe is at 7-under 133 through the Wyndham Championship's first two rounds. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Andrew Loupe needs another 11th-hour rally to earn a PGA TOUR card. It's a position he's accustomed to, and one the former high-school basketball star relishes.
"It's an enjoyable stress level. There's nothing better than playing in front of a bunch of people with something on the line," the 25-year-old PGA TOUR rookie said.
THE UPSHOT: Déjà vu for Slocum at Wyndham
Loupe arrived at the Wyndham Championship at No. 145 in the FedExCup. He has just one top-10 (T4, Valero Texas Open) in 21 starts this season, but is off to a strong start at Sedgefield Country Club. He's T16 at 7-under 133 (65-68), just three shots behind co-leaders Heath Slocum and Scott Langley. The LSU product has made 10 birdies and three bogeys through 36 rounds, while leading the field in driving distance (322.3 yards) and greens in regulation (31 of 36).
"I'd rather have my card locked up, but I still have a shot," he said. "I have two long days ahead of me."
Loupe likely needs to finish fifth or better to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs and retain his playing privileges for 2014-15. The top 125 in the FedExCup qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, while the top 125 in either the FedExCup or the money list retain playing privileges for 2014-15.
Loupe had to finish strong on last year's Web.com Tour to earn his TOUR card for this season. He holed a 6-foot putt on the final hole of last year's Web.com Tour Championship to earn his first PGA TOUR card without a shot to spare. He finished T6 at the Web.com Tour Championship after missing the cut in the Web.com Tour Finals' first three events.
Loupe, an all-state shooting guard in high school, sank a couple buzzer-beaters before that clutch performance, too.
He shot a final-round 64 at Q-School's second stage -- the low round of the day by three shots -- in November 2012 to advance to final stage without a shot to spare; advancing to final stage guaranteed him Web.com Tour status for 2013. Loupe played his final 13 holes in 9 under par, including a 6-footer for birdie on the final hole.
He was 86th on the Web.com Tour money list entering the final event before last year's Finals. He finished 12th in that event -- holing another 6-footer on the final hole -- to move to 70th on the money list. The tour's top 75 money earners qualified for the Web.com Tour Finals.
"I've been in this position before," he said. "It's not exactly the same, but it's pretty similar. I was in it in second stage. I was in it twice last year. That's something that I tell myself to remind myself and for confidence. You have to believe in yourself."
HOW FEDEXCUP'S BUBBLE BOYS FARED FedExCup position Wyndham position Score Projected FEC Money list position 122. Robert Allenby MC 66-74 (E) 127 141 123. Nicholas Thompson T61 70-68 (-2) 126 121 124. Jhonattan Vegas T7 67-65 (-8) 111 134 125. PAUL CASEY T21 65-69 (-6) 120 114 126. Sang-Moon Bae* T47 69-68 (-3) 128 127 127. Charlie Beljan MC 72-70 (+2) 131 118 128. Greg Chalmers MC 72-69 (+1) 133 135 129. David Lingmerth T47 67-70 (-3) 132 123 130. J.J. Henry T36 66-70 (-4) 130 139 131. Ben Curtis T28 68-67 (-5) 129 131 132. Jonathan Byrd MC 72-67 (-1) 135 129 133. Richard H. Lee MC 71-68 (-1) 137 128 134. Mike Weir MC 66-74 (E) 138 98 135. Brian Gay* MC 74-68 (+2) 139 132 * -- exempt for 2014-15 by virtue of victory in 2013.
Nicholas Thompson knew exactly where he stood as he was coming down the stretch Friday at the Wyndham Championship. "There's big scoreboards out there telling us," Thompson said with a laugh.
He was 1 under par for the tournament, and one shot outside the cut line, with four holes remaining in his second round. He birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to give himself a cushion, then made the cut on the number after a bogey at the 18th hole. He started the week at No. 123 in the FedExCup and is projected to fall to 126th, but making the cut gives him the chance to make a weekend rally.
He wasn't feeling pressure as the second round was coming to a close, though.
"It's a full year. You can't blame it on missing this cut or something like that. I can go back and say, 'Maybe it was one of the other 12 I missed,'" Thompson said.
It was an eventful year for Thompson off the golf course. His first son, Nicholas, was born last October, just before the season-opening Frys.com Open. "While it's been a tough year, I've missed some cuts by one, every day I get to go home and hug my beautiful, wonderful son," Thompson said.
His family is home in Florida this week so he can focus on the task at hand, specifically making the FedExCup Playoffs, but the plan is for them to be together at next week's The Barclays.
"My wife said, 'Go ahead and take care of business and we will meet you in New Jersey,'" Thompson said.
He believes his playing privileges for 2014-15 are safe because he started the week at No. 121 on the money list, approximately $60,000 ahead of No. 126 Andres Romero.
Ben Curtis arrived at the Wyndham Championship ranked 131st in both the FedExCup standings and the money list. The former winner of the Open Championship needs a good week to retain his TOUR card but he doesn't seem stressed.
"There's no pressure really. You just have to play golf and then go look. That's how I look at it," Curtis said. "It's hard to stress over it too bad. If it doesn't work out this week, I have the four Web.com Tour events. I have some sort of status next year. It's just a matter of what."
Curtis, a four-time PGA TOUR winner, started this week with rounds of 68-67 and is five shots off the lead. He estimated a top-10 finish would clinch his card and FedExCup Playoffs spot. If Curtis does have to play the Web.com Tour Finals, he will return to familiar territory. The third Web.com Tour Finals event, the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship is in his birthplace of Columbus, Ohio. Curtis also starred at Kent State in Ohio.
ON THE LINE FedExCup position Wyndham position Score Projected FEC Change ENTERED TOP 125 158. Heath Slocum T1 65-65 (-10) 59 +99 136. Martin Laird T3 65-66 (-9) 109 +27 EXITED TOP 125 123. Nicholas Thompson T61 70-68 (-2) 126 -3 122. Robert Allenby MC 66-74 (MC) 127 -5 ENTERED TOP 200 208. Kevin Foley T47 69-68 (-3) 200 +8 EXITED TOP 200 200. David Duval MC 70-69 (-1) 201 -1 Note: Nos. 126-200 in FedExCup are eligible for Web.com Tour Finals.