Takeaways: Two weeks in Bahamas, tons of action
January 24, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
Rafael Campos earns first professional victory at Great Abaco
Two weeks down, two big winners, and the Web.com Tour’s 2019 season is underway.
With the Bahamas swing now completed, the Tour heads to Bogota, Colombia next week and already we’ve had some dramatic finishes and there’s been jockeying for spots in The 25.
But before we look forward, here’s a foursome of details on of the last two weeks in the Bahamas after The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club.
Dou’s Fist Pump
Zecheng (Marty) Dou would likely be the first to admit his back nine on Wednesday at Great Exuma wasn’t pretty.
The past Web.com Tour winner and former PGA TOUR member made the turn in the final round and his lead had been squandered after bogeying three of his first six holes on the back nine.
But Dou was undeterred. He leaned on his winning ways from his many years of playing golf at a high level (he was a longtime stalwart at the top of leaderboards on PGA TOUR China, and through junior golf as well) and birdied his final three holes Sunday to win by two shots over Ben Kohles and Steve Lebrun.
The final birdie of the day – a 55-foot bomb – was emphasized with a Tiger Woods-esque fist pump.
After making 27 birdies on the week, the most in the field, Dou revealed his gamer driver had cracked earlier in the week and he had to do a last-minute switch to a newer TaylorMade model.
Dou told PGATOUR.COM that, after finishing outside the top 200 in the 2017-18 FedExCup standings, he felt lost.
“I got to the point where I wondered if golf was for me anymore,” he admitted.
But after wining the first event of the year? What once was lost now is found.
Campos Held Steady
It was a surprise to no one that in unpredictable Bahamian winds in Great Abaco, a native of the Caribbean was victorious at the second event of the season.
Rafael Campos – the lone Puerto Rican to play on a PGA TOUR-sanctioned Tour – captured The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic at The Abaco Club by one shot over Vincent Whaley after a 2-under-par 70 (the second-lowest round of the day).
On a day when the overnight leader, Erik Compton, shot an 11-over-par 83, and there were more rounds in the 80’s (four) than the 60’s (one), Campos was steady and was rewarded with his first-ever Web.com Tour title.
Campos was unaware he had won until he finally allowed himself to look at the leaderboard by the 18th green. His caddie advised him to take his time on the 8-inch tap in to close out his week and Campos told PGATOUR.COM he tried to keep his emotions in check.
“When I made (the tap-in) I thought to myself, ‘Okay, had a good week,’ but the cheer from the crowd was so loud,” said Campos. “And I looked over at the leaderboard and saw that I was on top … it’s just really emotional.”
Each of the past two winners of the tournament (Adam Svensson, 2018 and Andrew Landry, 2017) went on to earn their PGA TOUR cards via The 25 at the end of their respective seasons, so Campos is already looking ahead to what will hopefully be a successful season.
It was Campos’ 63rd start on the Web.com Tour, and his first win as a professional was the first by a Puerto Rican on Tour.
The island is still recovering from the devastating hurricanes in 2017, and Campos said he relishes the opportunity to be an influence to young golfers in his homeland as they’re looking for a beacon of positivity in what remain trying times.
“I hope in the future to see many players on the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour from Puerto Rico,” Campos told PGATOUR.COM. “My phone hasn’t stopped vibrating in my pocket since the putt dropped, I know they are celebrating back home.”
The Race to The 25
There have been only two events, but already the season-long points race to The 25 is starting to take shape.
After finishing tied for 32nd in the first event of the year and following it up with a victory, Rafael Campos is on top with 522 points. He’s followed by last week’s winner Zecheng (Marty) Dou, who earned 500 points after his victory.
Vincent Whaley, who finished T37-2 in the first two weeks of the year, is ranked third with 318 points.
Ben Kohles and Steve Lebrun are tied for fourth with 245 points, followed by John Oda and Willy Wilcox who are tied for sixth with 224 points.
Oda and Wilcox have been the most consist golfers on the Web.com Tour so far this year, as both notched back-to-back T4 results in the Bahamas.
Paul Imondi, Steven Alker, and Brett Stegmaier round out the top-10.
Two Canadians – Michael Gligic and Ryan Yip – along with Brett Coletta and Vince Covello are in the magic 25th spot currently with 63 points.
Some of the biggest names coming into the year were the trio of golfers who finished No. 1 on the money lists of the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, PGA TOUR China, and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and all three have shown flashes of brilliance so far.
Tyler McCumber, who was No.1 on PGA TOUR Canada, finished T4 last week and is 11th in The 25. Callum Tarren topped PGA TOUR China in 2017 and after a T12 last week is 28th on The 25. Harry Higgs notched a top-20 finish last week and is 34th in The 25.
Official Web.com Tour events award 500 points to first place, and at the conclusion of the Regular Season, the top-75 players in Web.com Tour Points plus ties will be eligible to play in the Web.com Tour Finals, while the top-25 players will receive PGA TOUR cards.
New Tournaments Coming Up
With the swing through the Bahamas now in the rearview, the Web.com Tour is looking ahead to a few new tournaments as part of the first quarter of the 2019 season.
After two weeks at longtime events – the Country Club de Bogota Championship and the Panama Championship – the Tour makes its debut at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in mid-February at Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
Four weeks later, the Web.com Tour will play the first Dormie Network Classic at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Texas. Another four weeks after that, the Tour will debut at the Evans Scholars Invitational in Glenview, Illinois.
The Bahamas produced a young winner – who had already made it to the PGA TOUR – and an older winner – who experienced the jubilation of lifting a Web.com Tour trophy for the first time.
Time will tell who joins them as winners in 2019.