Finals notebook: Peterson closing in on PGA TOUR card

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three Tour Finals events, three top-5 finishes for John Peterson.

The former NCAA champion continued his solid play through the series, closing his stay at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship with a 5-under 66 that lifted him to sole possession of third.

It marked the second time during the series that Peterson finished with a flurry, having closed with a 64 at the opening Hotel Fitness Championship. He also took third at last week’s Chiquita Classic, falling one stroke short of a playoff.

“Yeah, where was (the fast finish) last week?” the former LSU standout said in mock indignation.

“I didn’t really get anything going in the first three rounds – actually, I had to battle just to make the cut on Friday. It was nice that it finally turned around.”

Peterson is the only man in the Finals field to record top-15 finishes at all three stops. Already assured of a PGA TOUR card for next season, he now stands fourth on the Finals money list with $164,000 – trailing only event winners Trevor Immelman, Andrew Svoboda and Seung-Yul Noh.

“The money is top-heavy out here,” Peterson said. “You’ve got to finish top-15 to make significant money, so that’s what I was trying to do today. I knew I needed 4 or 5 under just to make a good check and keep my place where I was.”

Now if Peterson can just settle the difference with the Scarlet Course’s 18th hole.

Two years ago, Peterson drove through the fairway and took a bogey on the final hole, opening the door for Harris English to snatch a victory. This time, Peterson’s drive hit a tree branch and caromed behind the tree, in a divot.

“(No.) 18 doesn’t like me still,” he said. “This time I made par, though, so it’s a small improvement.”

BIG MOVER: Playing two hours ahead of the leaders, Edward Loar blitzed the Scarlet Course with a 65 and waited to see how far it would take him.

The answer: All the way to second, where only Noh was out of reach.

“That’s a long way (to catch Noh),” the big lefty said, “but it’s certainly going to improve my paycheck quite a bit.”

Loar won the Chitimacha Louisiana Open in March on the way to finishing No. 4 in regular-season earnings. But he hit a flat spell as the Finals began, taking a share of 69th and 24th in the first two events.

Sunday’s result propelled him from 36th in the priority rankings all the way to No. 6.

“That’s huge,” he said. “I think anybody that understands what’s really going on (for the entry list) knows the ranking is huge. Two years ago when I had my card I started out 42nd, and I know that wasn’t any good.”

Loar got into only two West Coast events, missing the cut both times, and wound up splitting time between the PGA TOUR and Tour.

NERVES KICK IN: Tyrone Van Aswegen, who spoke all week about how he came to Columbus with nothing to lose, found his nerves were plenty active as he fought a bogey streak on the back nine.

The South African was tied for second with four holes to play, but a bad drive at No. 15 ignited a string of three consecutive bogeys that dropped him to a share of fourth. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” he said.

Things didn’t really get bad, though, until Van Aswegen missed the green at No. 18 and had to stare down the possibility of a four-bogey finish. But he managed to settle his hands long enough to drain an 8-foot par save.

“If you’re trying to win a tournament,” he said, “that’s the kind of nerves you think you’re going to feel. And that wasn’t even to win a tournament – it was to finish fourth!

“You know what’s at stake, getting your card. You put all that pressure on yourself, and that’s what happens. You get nervous.”