WEB.COM TOUR FINALS
Takeaways: Saunders earns TOUR card, Hadley gets full TOUR status
Stefani, Wheatcroft, Hoge among those to secure TOUR status at season-ending Web.com Tour Championship
October 02, 2017
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Chesson Hadley won The 25 and The Finals 25 money lists, earning full PGA TOUR status for 2017-18. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
News and observations from the Web.com Tour Championship, where five-time PGA TOUR winner Jonathan Byrd captured his second Web.com Tour title after shooting a final-round, 4-under 67 at Atlantic Beach Country Club.
He won by four over Shawn Stefani and Sam Saunders.
Five golfers jump into The Finals 25
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
Five players who began this week outside The Finals 25 played their way inside the threshold, securing PGA TOUR status in the process.
Jonathan Byrd, who won by four at the Web.com Tour Championship, started the week at 66th on the Web.com Tour Finals money list. He moved all the way up to third, behind only Chesson Hadley and Peter Uihlein. (As Hadley is also part of The 25, he doesn't take one of The Finals 25 spots.)
Shawn Stefani tied the low round of the day Monday, a 6-under-par 65, and finished tied for second with Sam Saunders. Stefani moved from 47th to seventh.
Thanks to his tie for fifth this week, Matt Jones moved from 47th up to 17th.
Cameron Tringale moved from 49th to 18th thanks to his tie for fifth with Jones and Rob Oppenheim.
Tom Hoge, after his tie for 12th this week, moved from 31st to 23rd and earned a return to the PGA TOUR.
Uihlein finished second by approximately $400 over Byrd.
Hadley earns full status
With his two Web.com Tour victories in 2017, Chesson Hadley earned a return trip to the PGA TOUR – with full status – after earning more than $562,000 on the combined Regular Season and Finals money list.
Hadley, who won the LECOM Health Challenge during the Regular Season and the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco in the Web.com Tour Finals, heads back to the PGA TOUR.
The 30-year-old captured his lone PGA TOUR victory at the 2014 Puerto Rico Open and captured PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors that year.
Stefani does it for the family
In a post-round interview where Shawn Stefani broke down, he admitted he was playing golf for more than just himself these days, as the 35-year-old and his wife are expecting a child this December.
Stefani did everything he needed to do Monday at the Web.com Tour Championship, as his 6-under-par 65 tied the round of the day, and after moving into a tie for second, he finished seventh on The Finals 25, earning a spot back on the PGA TOUR.
“It was just an emotional day,” he said. “It was good ... I played solid. I've been working really hard on my game and finally got some stuff out of there, mainly just an attitude adjustment ... but just super excited to see some good results come.”
Stefani said he was trying to work through a bit of a technical change in his swing of late, but it paid off this week at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The little adjustment paid off in a big way.
“(There was) one little thing in my swing that I've changed, but it's helped. Mainly an attitude adjustment and a perspective change and it has helped. Sometimes that's bigger than technical adjustments,” he said, admitting he had a friend help him get his club a little further away from him on the takeaway.
Stefani finished 188th on the FedExCup this season, his best finish being a tie for 10th at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.It was just an emotional day.
Saunders can’t back up first-round 59; still earns TOUR card
Although the week started exactly the way he would have liked – with a Finals-record round of 59 – Sam Saunders didn’t end up in the winner’s circle Monday afternoon.
However, he did earn a PGA TOUR card, and that, he’ll take solace in.
Saunders, who fired the seventh sub-60 round in Web.com Tour history on Thursday at Atlantic Beach Country Club (his home course), backed it up with a 66 on Friday. But over the weekend – and into Monday – he was steamrolled by Jonathan Byrd’s steady play.
“Jonathan won the golf tournament today, which is good. He deserves it; he played well. He shot whatever he shot today and then he had the best round of the day on Saturday, which that was a tough day with the weather and to go out and shoot 7 under and then play like he did today ... He was on. He won the golf tournament, and that's good to see,” said Saunders.
Saunders will tee it up this week at the Safeway Open, and although he said he would have been happy to play out of the ‘conditional’ category, after finishing 129th on the FedExCup, he’s pleased with his result this week that bettered his TOUR status.
“I was looking beyond getting the TOUR card back ... worst-case scenario, if I had to play out of the 126-150 category this year, I would have been fine with that. I was trying to win these golf tournaments in the Web.com Tour Finals. Disappointed not to win, but I played really well this week,” he explained.
Wheatcroft perseveres after injuries
At the first tournament of the year, Steve Wheatcroft broke his finger.
His doctors, later in the summer, found a chipped bone and some torn cartilage in the back of the same hand, and had to get “all kinds” of cortisone shots.
He also got a “weird” foot-and-mouth disease from his son earlier in the spring.
By his own admission, this year has been “rough.”
But Monday afternoon at the Web.com Tour Championship, it all turned out OK, as his tie for 16th this week meant he finished 21st on The Finals 25, and earned a return trip to the PGA TOUR.
“My family and I bought a new home; that was a big process. We had to do a lot of work to it, so there's just been a lot the outside distractions where I haven't been able to focus on the golf the way I've wanted to. I'm 39 years old, I know I'm not one of these 23-year-old kids coming up. So I'm in the back nine of my career, but man, I don't want it to stop yet and I'm glad I get at least one more year out there,” he said.
Wheatcroft said he will try to play four of the five PGA TOUR events in the fall in the United States if he can, and will try to get some momentum rolling into the 2018 calendar year.
Wheatcroft finished 14-under for the week after a 4-under-par 67 on Monday. He’s a member at Atlantic Beach Country Club and said he loves it at the course. It showed through the last four (five, technically) days of competition.
“They were out there following me for four days screaming, yelling, hooting, hollering, through rain delays. They're the best. It's a great club here and having that support out there, having people cheering you on, it's great,” he said. “It's an awesome feeling.”