By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
There was so much going on in the final round: There was the battle to win the Wyndham Championship, the rush to finish in the top 125 in the FedExCup standings to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs and the race to finish inside the top 200, which qualifies players ranked No. 126 to 200 for the Web.com Tour Playoffs.
Andres Gonzales fell into that later category. He started the week 238th in the FedExCup standings. Gonzales knew starting the final round, he wasn’t going to win and wasn’t headed to The Barclays but there was still the chance to qualify for the Web.com Tour Playoffs. He responded to that challenge with birdies on two of the last four holes for a 64 and a T8 finish. That moved him up 40 places in the FedExCup standings to finish 198th.
It may not sound like much, but it’s huge for Gonzalez. If a player is in the Web.com Tour Playoffs, he can play his way into a full-time card on the PGA TOUR next season.
There were dozens of individual battles taking place at Sedgefield and not all of them had happy endings, but Gonzalez is one of those smiling tonight.
Formula: Patrick Reed won the tournament because he gave himself more looks at birdie than any other player in the field. He hit 83 percent of his greens in regulation; a tournament best. When you get that many looks at birdie you are going to make some and Reed made a lot. He converted those chances into 21 birdies for the week.
Putting: Jordan Spieth led the field with 22 birdies and did not have his best week on the greens. He was a pedestrian 39th in strokes gained-putting. Putting has been an issue with Spieth the entire year. He ranks 103rd this season in strokes gained-putting. It’s unusual for a young player to be a more accomplished ball striker than he is a putter. Then again, it’s unusual for a 20-year-old to be a PGA TOUR winner and eighth in FedExCup standings.
Thumb’s up: The Reed vs. Spieth playoff had so many great moments it’s hard to single out the most memorable. Spieth made a 26-footer on the 18th to keep the playoff alive. Reed then struck such a bad drive on the next hole that he hit a provisional. His ball wound up a yard away from out of bounds but given the good break, Reed responded with an approach to within 7 feet. It was at that moment, Spieth turned around and gave Reed a “thumb’s up” gesture to the fellow Texan. I say both players get “thumb’s up” for their play and sportsmanship this week.
Youth served: The combined ages of the top four players at the Wyndham Championship adds up to 92. Spieth is 20; Reed and John Huh are both 23 while Brian Harmon is the old man of the group at 26. Ask yourself what you were doing at the age of 25 and how your resume compared with that quartet.
Conditions: The greens at Sedgefield Country Club came up big winners this week. Players could not say enough good things about the new putting surfaces. Champions bermuda was planted last year and even with a tough growing season, the greens kept their firmness and speed throughout the tournament. The putting surfaces kept their speed despite weekend rain. Sedgefield went from a good course to a great course with the new greens.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here