Notes: Wittenberg hopes for better results in TOUR return

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR
No. 1 on the money list Casey Wittenberg finished with $433, 453 in earnings for the season.
October 28, 2012
Bill Nichols, PGATOUR.COM Contributor

MCKINNEY, Texas -- Casey Wittenberg spent the week as the hunted. Entering the Tour Championship at No. 1 on the money list, Wittenberg had only one more week to maintain his position.


Wittenberg held on. He finished with $433,453 in earnings, $22,860 ahead of Luke Guthrie.

Wittenberg and Guthrie tied for ninth at 8-under with Brad Fritsch, eight strokes behind winner Justin Bolli.

"There was no way Justin was going to catch me even if he won so there wasn't a lot of pressure,'' Wittenberg said. "Luke was my biggest worry.

"You want to finish No. 1. You hate to go this far and not finish it out. I was just trying to win the golf tournament. I would have had to do something pretty spectacular so with the start I had today that was out pretty quick."

Wittenberg made two bogeys over the first seven holes. An eagle on the short par-4 14th was negated by a double-bogey on 15. He birdied the last two holes for a 70.

"I had to settle down and try to claw back a little bit and I did OK,'' he said. "I just tried to put my head down and start driving in the fairways.''

Wittenberg is hoping for better things in his return to the PGA TOUR. In 2009 he made 10 of 25 cuts, had two top-25s, one top-10 and finished 166th in FedExCup points.

"I feel like I'm a better player, I feel more mature, so hopefully I'll be able to adjust to the conditions and be able to perform better,'' he said. "It was just a new experience, going against the best players in the world. You have to step your game up and play great golf.''

SEEING ORANGE: Morgan Hoffman got some help from his roommate -- PGA TOUR player and fellow Oklahoma State alum Rickie Fowler.

Fowler sent Hoffman a text message on Saturday night. Hoffman, who began the year with no status, earned his PGA TOUR card by finishing 19th on the money list.

He made a nice run at the Tour Championship title with a final-round 64 that left him tied for third with Adam Hadwin, three strokes back.

"It's nice to pick [Fowler's] brain about the PGA TOUR and how he's won out there,'' Hoffman said. "Bo Van Pelt is a really good friend too. The OSU Cowboys are a pretty close group. We stay in touch a lot.''

Hoffman's bright orange pants were too much for former Cowboy Ed Loar.

"I like orange but that's a different level,'' Loar said. "Pretty incredible.''

DOUBLE EAGLE: Rob Oppenheim didn't make it into the top 25 but he threw a big celebration. Two over on the day and coming off a bogey, Oppenheim drained his drive for a double eagle on No. 14, a 330-yard downhill par-4 with water on the left side.

"I just made bogey and was not happy,'' Oppenheim said. "I told my caddie (Steven Kachinski) I was going to swing as hard as I could and if I knocked it in he had to jump in the water.''

Although up for it, Kachinski did not go in because they still had four holes to play and he did not have a spare set of clothes. The temperature was in the low 60s.

It was Oppenheim's first double-eagle. His last hole-in-one came several years ago on the Hooters Tour.

TOUGH TRACK: TPC at Craig Ranch played a slightly tougher than in 2008, when it last hosted the Tour Championship.

Winner Justin Bolli finished 16-under 268, one stroke shy of Matt Bettencourt's number four years ago.

The field's scoring average was 70.31 compared to 69.59 four years ago. Players combined for 877 birdies, down from 918, and 35 eagles compared to 38.