By Ken MacLeod
This is golf’s season of excitement, but also of confusion. With the FedEx Cup Playoff field constantly shrinking, the Web.Com Finals starting up, this 50 players going here and that 75 going there, it can get to be a head scratcher trying to figure out who’s playing where next week, let alone next year.
Here’s a primer on how players with Oklahoma ties are faring as we head into the second week of the playoffs and the first week of the Web.Com Finals, which will determine 25 automatic PGA Tour cards for 2015.
On the PGA Tour, the first week of the playoffs was a bonanza for former Oklahoma State golfers. Hunter Mahan won The Barclays, leaping from 62nd to first in playoff point standings and guaranteeing he’ll be around for the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Ex-Cowboy Rickie Fowler moved up from 16th to 11th and Charles Howell III from 33rd to 31st. But the big jumps besides Mahan were made by Tulsan Bo Van Pelt, who jumped from 104th to 73rd by tying for 13th place at 8-under, and by Morgan Hoffmann, who tied for ninth place at 9-under and moved up 52 spots from 124th to 73rd.
Both those two will have to keep moving up this week as only the top 70 will remain alive after the Duetsche Bank Championship in Boston. Also needing a big move this week is Robert Streb, the Edmond North graduate who survived last week despite missing the cut at The Barclays. Streb dropped from 84th to 97th and will likely need a top-15 finish this week to move on.
Meanwhile, the Web.Com Tour begins its four-week playoff this week to determine which golfers get battlefield promotions to the PGA Tour for 2015 and which will be back on the Web.Com Tour. Among those competing in that are Kevin Tway, who finished 177th on the PGA Tour in 2014 (125 through 200 are included), as well as former OU golfer Hunter Haas and OSU-ex Casey Wittenberg. Those two finished in the top 75 on this year’s Web.Com Tour.
Others will need to go back to qualifying school to earn a berth on the Web.Com Tour for next year. Those include Ryan Spears of Del City, who finished 80th on the Web.Com Tour, as well as PGA Tour players who finished outside the top 200 such as former Tulsan Tag Ridings at 219, former Sooner Glen Day at 222, former Cowboy Edward Loar at 233 and former Sooner Todd Hamilton at 246.
Pre-qualifying for next year’s Web.Com Tour for those trying to make their debuts in 2015 starts as early as Sept. 15, and that will be the destination for Oklahoma youngsters such as Ian Davis, Cameron Meyers, Dillon Rust and others who want to be on the Web.Com Tour next year. Depending on their status, those golfers will have to battle through pre-qualifying, first stage and second stage to make it to the finals, which will be held Dec. 11-16 at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.