Michael Putnam has had one goal all year: to finish on top of the money list.
“No. 1 means everything, No. 2 means nothing,” he said.
The No. 1 money leader for the Web.com Tour Regular Season is fully-exempt into the 2013-2014 PGA TOUR season, guaranteeing him a spot in PGA TOUR events (excluding invitationals). He also earns an invitation to THE PLAYERS Championship.
There’s still a round left at the Cox Classic Presented by Lexus of Omaha, but Putnam’s goal is essentially accomplished. His challengers, No. 2 Ben Martin (T57), No. 3 Chesson Hadley (MC) and No. 4 Edward Loar (MC), all failed to do just that in the final event of the Regular Season.
“Obviously No. 1 is pretty big just because Nos. 2 through 25 are essentially all in the same boat going into the [Finals]. So getting to No. 1 is big,” Martin said on Friday. “Now I kind of have to go and defend what I've done all year.”
With his No. 1 position essentially safe, you might expect Putnam to slow down a bit. He isn’t.
The Pepperdine University grad hit his stride early in the season, entering May’s Mexico Championship with four top 10s already in his pocket. He won that week, and followed it up with another win the next week at the Mid-Atlantic Championship, becoming just the tenth Web.com Tour player to win in back-to-back weeks.
The wins moved Putnam from 11th on the money list to the coveted top spot and meant his 2013-2014 PGA TOUR card was secured. But Putnam wasn’t satisfied. Now he needed to hold on to No. 1. He kept his foot on the pedal through the summer, and picked up two more top 10s.
This week in Omaha has been no different. Putnam didn’t even let a bout with the 24-hour flu slow him down in his pursuit of No. 1 honors.
He started his second round at Champions Run feeling like something wasn't quite right. A few trips to the bathroom later, and he was struggling.
Did he withdraw? No. He finished his round, a 5-under 66 that included an eagle on the 17th hole.
“If I had to play 30 more minutes there’s no way I would have made it. I basically passed out in the scoring trailer, I was on the floor,” he said.
He tweeted later that evening: “18 holes 4 bathroom stops, 3 throw-up episodes on the back 9, an IV in the scoring trailer, and a 66 posted...not a bad day!”
He returned Saturday saying, "I’m back, I’m alive.”
He hasn’t been able to eat much -- two bananas, a yogurt and a piece of toast in the last 36 hours – but he was still able to turn in a 65 and sits two strokes behind leaders Matt Bettencourt and Bronson La’Cassie. His position near the lead aside, Putnam's focus remains solely on that No. 1 spot on the money list.
“I can’t control what Ben Martin does, but I can control what I do. That’s why I played through what I did yesterday. I gave myself a chance today,” he said.
Bettencourt and La'Cassie also fired 65s in the third round. Both are outside the 25 on the money list, playing to secure their PGA TOUR cards for next season.
A win for Putnam would mean an automatic three-win promotion to the PGA TOUR.
"It’s tough out there, but apparently a lot of guys are making birdies because it's still going low," he said. "It’s obviously gong to take another 6- or 7-under."
It's also obvious that Putnam isn't about to let anything get in the way of accomplishing his goal.