Insider: Five who could crash The 25 in the finale

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
B.J. Staten came up just short at Winn-Dixie but put himself closer to The 25 with one event remaining.
October 24, 2012
John Dell, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

It's not for the faint of heart.

That's the best way to describe what goes on in the always-entertaining Tour Championship.


While most players inside the top 25 on the money list have done enough to stay there it's always fun to see if anybody can crash the party.

With this week's tournament and $1 million purse players can make up ground with a hot week.

Last year it was Ken Duke who not only crashed the party but won the tournament and jumped from 36th on the money list to seventh. That earned him full exempt status for this past season on the PGA TOUR.

Then there was the case of Billy Hurley III who was 25th on the money list heading into last year's Tour Championship. He needed a tie for 18th to keep his spot at No. 25 and did just that.

There are sure to be players moving up and down once the tournament starts on Thursday. Let's take a look at five players who could make the jump from outside the top 25 to inside the magic number.

Who's here? Take a glance at the field for the finale, broken into several categories. Inside the field
Power Rankings: Tour Insider John Dell lists five players to watch for the final event on the 2012 schedule. Rankings
Momentum: Track the players at Nos. 16-30 on the money list, crucial spots to watch this week at TPC Craig Ranch. Chart

1. B.J. Staten -- He played well enough to win on Sunday at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open but a double bogey on the first playoff hole with Russell Henley sealed his fate. Staten's tie for second moved him from No. 69 to 32nd on the money list. Another hot week and he could move even further up the money list.

Staten, a 35-year-old who has never played on the PGA TOUR, has three top 10s this season. He rebounded nicely this past week after missing two straight cuts.

2. Aaron Watkins -- On Sunday he made a big leap up the leaderboard with his 67 which was good enough to finish in fourth place. He also vaulted up the money list moving from 49th to 37th. He sits a good ways from No. 25 but has some confidence heading into this week's tournament.

Watkins ranks in the top 25 in putting average and he'll need to putt good again this week if he wants to move up. It's a big task to jump that far up the money list but it's doable.

3. Morgan Hoffman -- The former Oklahoma State star has been steadily moving up the money list late in the season. He'll start this week at No. 31 and will have one more chance to make a bigger move. With limited status on the Tour this season he's put together a good stretch in his last five tournaments. He's only played in 12 tournaments but has six top 25s.

Hoffman tied for 30th on Sunday with a final-round 69. He nearly won last month but lost in a playoff in the Chiquita Classic.

4. Doug LaBelle II -- He comes into this week at No. 26 on the money list and is only $287 behind No. 25 Camilo Benedetti. LaBelle has a victory this season and will need a good week to get inside the top 25. He'll definitely be one of those "bubble guys" all through the week and that usually means there's a little more pressure.

LaBelle won the Utah Championship in July but hasn't had a top 10 finish since. He wound up tied for 15th at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open after opening with a 65.

5. Ben Martin -- The former Clemson player had nothing to lose last week as he languished at No. 94 on the money list thanks to four straight missed cuts. But he found something in a hurry and finished third on Sunday to jump to No. 60 on the money list to just make it into this week's field.

Martin has had a roller-coaster type of season playing in 23 events and making just nine cuts. But when he's made a cut he's finished inside the top 25 six different times. He'll need another huge week to get inside the top 25.

John Dell has covered golf for the Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina for the last 19 years. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the PGA TOUR. You can reach him at