The great thing about golf is that it’s such a black and white world; you scored well or you didn’t. Frequently that’s because you played well or you didn’t, but there are all sorts of instances where a player scrapped it around when he wasn’t playing particularly well. So there’s not an ironclad correlation between playing well and scoring.
But in the midst of those ups and downs, there are tournaments that come along and lift the players to the best in themselves. That happened in the first round of the Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Hotel Fitness is the first tournament of the four Final tournaments that determine which 50 of the 150 in the field (129 this year) get to play on the PGA Tour next year.
There’s sort of an interesting juxtaposition between the two types of players in the field. On the one hand, you have 75 players who played the best in their category, the Web.com Tour. Twenty-five of those guys played so well and so consistently all year long that they have already been rewarded with their PGA Tour cards. They’re only — and I use the word “only” advisedly — playing to see what the final pecking order into the tournaments will be; certainly something to play for.
On the other hand, you have the 75 players who played the worst in their category, the PGA Tour. They ended up in the 126 to 200 in FedExCup points and are now faced with fighting to get their jobs back for next year; all their exemptions and extensions have run out, most notably Trevor Immelman’s 5-year exemption for his 2008 Masters victory. (Not to pick on him; everybody has a story, his has just a little more luster on it. It can happen to anybody.)
So I got to thinking, if the better players are on the PGA Tour, even though this group played poorly last year, wouldn’t you expect them to be the ones at the top of the leaderboard after this first round?
There certainly were a lot of PGA Tour players at the top of the leaderboard, but that’s because some of them had already lost their cards previously and were on the Web.com Tour playing their way back to the show.
So here is a list of the top 25 players with where they were on their respective money/points lists. Numbers between 1 and 75 are Web.com players, between 126 and 200, PGA Tour guys. There are also five guys playing on Special Medical Exemptions (SME) and three guys off the PGA Tour who were non-members (NM).
So here’s how they did:
- 1 – Scott McCarron, -8, (SME)
- T2 – Bud Cauley, -7, (131)
- T2 – Jason Gore, -7, (46)
- T2 – Troy Matteson, -7, (167)
- T2 – Scott Harrington, -7, (72)
- T6 – Jeff Klauk, -6, (NM)
- T6 – Arron Oberholser, -6, (SME)
- T8 – Wes Roach, -5, (22)
- T8 – Len Mattiace, -5, (58)
- T8 – Roland Thatcher, -5, (63)
- T8 – Trevor Immelman, -5, (143)
- T8 – Brad Fritsch, -5, (129)
- T8 – Jhonattan Vegas, -5, (SME)
- T8 – Andrew Putnam, -5, (50)
- T8 – Will Claxton, -5, (169)
- T16 – Ricky Barnes, -4, (132)
- T16 – Brice Garnett, -4, (14)
- T16 – Jamie Lovemark, -4, (12)
- T16 – Kevin Kisner, -4 (13)
- T16 – Patrick Cantlay, -4, (29)
- T16 – Alistair Presnell, -4, (180)
- T16 – Joe Durant, -4, (65)
- T16 – Edward Loar, -4, (4)
- T16 – Brandt Jobe, -4, (149)
- T16 – Seung-Yul Noh, -4, (160)
So of these 25 guys at the top of the leaderboard, 12 were from the Web.com, 9 from the PGA Tour, 3 from the SMEs, and 1 from the NMs.
It appears that the Web.com guys win the day on the raw numbers, but the SMEs and the non-member were all off the PGA Tour, so the Big Tour edges the kids 13 to 12. Which they would argue in the locker room is the way it should be.
But the truth is, this small sample size didn’t produce a statistically significant difference between the quality of the two tours…which probably does make the case that the guys out on the Web.com Tour are pretty good players where you would think the big tour guys would have an advantage.
If I didn’t put you to sleep with this, I might take a look at how the final day turns out. Just to see. Especially if they all played as good as these 25 did.