PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – The race to finish atop the Web.com Tour Finals money list appears down to a two-man pursuit, with current leader Seung-Yul Noh an interested observer from afar.
Chesson Hadley, who carries a two-shot lead into the weekend at the Web.com Tour Championship, and Chiquita Classic winner Andy Svoboda spent Friday close enough in projected earnings that they swapped spots several times during Svoboda’s Friday afternoon round.
The day ended with Svoboda, tied for third at Dye's Valley after a pair of 67s, atop the projections. One stroke more, though, and the slippage would have left Hadley as the projected No.1.
“That’s what I’m here playing for,” said Svoboda, who also won the Price Cutter Charity Championship in mid-August. “I’m going to need a great finish, though. … Hopefully I’ll shoot a 67 on the weekend. That would be pretty good.”
Whoever tops the Finals money list is rewarded with a fully exempt status on the PGA TOUR in 2013-14, along with a guaranteed berth in THE PLAYERS Championship. Hadley was No.3 in Regular Season earnings, but got off to a slow start in the Finals before tying for fourth in Columbus.
At No.14 in Finals money, Hadley can move to No.1 only with a win.
“That’s great, but it’s still about being there on Sunday,” Hadley said after following Thursday’s 65 with a 66. “Tomorrow I’m just going to go out and try to lay the hammer down. I’m going to try to stay focused on that.”
Svoboda needs to finish in a two-way tie for sixth or better to move past Noh on the list.
BURSTING BUBBLES: Plenty of openings exist for players to grab one of the final 25 PGA TOUR cards, with missed cuts befalling eight of the last 10 players who came to Dye’s Valley in line for cards.
Steve Wheatcroft, who held down the 25th card, never recovered from his opening 74 and followed with a 71. “I didn't find a way,” he said via Twitter. “All I found was rough, missed putts and heartbreak. Gutted right now. This is awful.”
Nor was it easy for Greg Owen or Camilo Benedetti, both of whom missed the cut by one. Owen parred each of his final six holes; Benedetti had a sharp swing with a birdie at No.16 to move above the line, only to bogey No.17 after a poor drive.
Bobby Gates and Ricky Barnes fell out after missing the cut, but still could move back in depending on how others do this weekend. Ditto for Jim Herman, who made the cut on the number but still fell out of the projections.
“Let the waiting game begin,” Gates told his Twitter followers. “It's a helpless feeling to have my fate in others’ hands but I had my chance.”
CHASE FOR NO.1: Noh, who went home to South Korea after winning in Columbus, still could retain the No.1 spot if Svoboda and Hadley trip up on the weekend. The 22-year-old pro needs someone from outside the top 30 to win the tournament and someone from outside the top nine to finish runner-up. … Trevor Immelman’s 70 wasn’t enough to move above the cut line -- his third MC after winning the opening Hotel Fitness Championship. … John Peterson, the only man with top-10s in each of the first three Finals events, fell six shots off the pace after a 71.
BIGGEST MOVERS: Jhonattan Vegas, No.97 in earnings to begin the week, is tied for fifth at Dye’s Valley after rounds of 66-69. That projects to a leap of 68 spots on the earnings list to No.29. … Aron Price used a Friday 65 to grab a share of third in the tournament. He began the week at No.79 in Finals earnings, but projects a rise of 65 spots to 14th.