Kevin Tway surveyed the scenario on the 72nd hole Sunday at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, circling a 30-foot putt on the last with the focus of a hunter stalking its prey.
The birdie putt, uphill, with nearly 4 feet of break, ended up falling. Tway finished 4-under-par on the day, 10 under for the championship, and his tie for third (with overnight leader Martin Flores) moved him to ninth on the Web.com Tour Finals 25 money list, securing a spot on the PGA TOUR for the 28-year-old next season.
“I don’t have any words to describe (my feelings) right now,” said Tway immediately following his round. “I’ve always wanted to be back on the TOUR, and to see that putt go in was really special.”
Tway earned $58,000 for the week, moving his Finals money list total to $63,975.
The Oklahoma State product (he played with Rickie Fowler) was inside The 25 heading into the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Heinz, but missed the cut, and he ended up being one of three guys who were bumped from The 25 at the conclusion of that tournament.
“There was a couple times in Portland and I knew what I needed to do — I almost just needed to make the cut — but I put too much pressure on myself,” he admitted. “I know my game is good enough, I just had to keep trying my best.”
He finished 28th on The 25 a year ago, so 2016 marked two years in a row when he was this close to earning his TOUR card via the Regular Season.
“I finished 27th on the money list (this year) which was hard to take, and I had a near miss in the (Finals) last year, so it’s been a long road,” he explained. “There were times when you’re there and you’re thinking, ‘How can I mess this up,’ as opposed to, ‘How can I excel.’ I end up getting in my own way, that’s my usual problem.”
Tway, who played in the U.S. Open this year, also had a very special person following him all week long.
His father, Bob Tway (the 1986 PGA Championship winner), was on-site all week long watching his son. And when the younger Tway’s curling birdie on the last hole dropped in, father Bob was one of the first people who gave his son a congratulatory hug.
“It was really special,” Tway said about having his father in the gallery. “To have him here, and have him help me with course management, it makes me feel comfortable, in a sense.”
“He got here the same time as me on Monday. He was with me warming up,” continued Tway. “He has so much knowledge. I was just trying to get some of (it) as well.”
Tway first made the PGA TOUR in 2013-14, where in 23 events he made just eight cuts. His best finish was a tie for 26th at the Travelers Championship and he chalks up his less-than-stellar season to just a lack of experience.
“Always your first crack at the TOUR is difficult, it’s all new,” he explained.
On the Web.com Tour the last two years, he learned a lot about getting prepared again for the PGA TOUR.
“The players are great, you have to learn to go low on the (Web.com) Tour. There’s travel and long grinds — like this eight-week stretch we were just on — but it’s about being nice to yourself, and staying the course,” he said.
For now, Tway moves on to the Web.com Tour Championship in two weeks after a well deserved break this coming week. He admitted his finish Sunday wasn’t like “winning-winning” but it was like winning, “in a sense.”
A big objective for the year was accomplished.
“I played well today and I was proud of how I hung in there,” he said.
Next stop: PGA TOUR.