New year, same dreams.
The 2019 Web.com Tour season begins in less than two weeks in the Bahamas with, per usual, an eclectic mix of veterans, college studs and up-and-coming Tour stars all looking to earn their spot in The 25 and make a move to the PGA TOUR.
And Web.com Tour members need not look far to find successful examples of graduates.
Cameron Champ, who finished sixth in The 25 last season, captured the Sanderson Farms Championship in November. He added two other top-10 finishes in the fall and is in the top-10 in the 2018-19 FedExCup race.
But never fear – even if you don’t finish in The 25, locking up a spot in the Web.com Tour Finals could be the springboard you need to a career-changing moment.
Just ask 2016-17 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele (who was 26th on the 2016 Regular Season money list but earned a spot on the PGA TOUR via the Web.com Tour Finals that year) or five-time PGA TOUR winner Bryson DeChambeau (who won in the 2016 Web.com Tour Finals and is now a top-five player in the world).
There’s no shortage of thrilling moments ahead, as we’re on the cusp of the 30th Web.com Tour season.
Here are a few things to watch for as we look ahead to The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, and the rest of 2019.
The 2019 schedule, announced in September, is filled with 27 tournaments in 17 states and four countries outside the U.S.
This year’s schedule will be tighter than in years past (27 events in just 35 weeks) with a focus on geographical efficiencies.
“The new schedule will allow for a more natural cadence and an earlier finish to the season that will enhance the visibility of the Web.com Tour Finals,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan in September.
Key stretches of events in 2019 include the international run to start the year (with five of the first six tournaments taking place outside the U.S.), May in Middle America, and back-to-back weeks on the West Coast in August.
The Tour will once again return to its four original tournament stops, this year marking the 30th playing of the Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco (Boise, Idaho), the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper (Springfield, Missouri), the Knoxville Open (Knoxville, Tennessee), and the Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth (Wichita, Kansas).
There’s no shortage of new blood on the 2019 Web.com Tour schedule, either.
The Suncoast Classic in Lakewood Ranch, Florida; the Evans Scholars Invitational in Glenview, Illinois; and the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes in Berthoud, Colorado will make their homes on the Web.com Tour this year. A fourth new event, slated for April 25-28, will be announced in the coming weeks as well.
And unlike in years past, the 2019 Web.com Tour schedule will not feature a break through the summer. Trophies will be raised every Sunday from April 28 onwards.
RACE TO THE FINISH
As part of the condensed schedule, the 2019 Web.com Tour Finals will be only a three-event sprint, where another 25 PGA TOUR cards will be handed out.
At the conclusion of the Regular Season on August 11 at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft-Heinz, the Tour will shift to Finals mode at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in Columbus, Ohio, followed by the Albertsons Boise Open.
That leads us to…
ON THE MOVE
… the Web.com Tour Championship at its new home – Victoria National Golf Club in Newburgh, Indiana, outside Evansville.
After spending 2013-2015 at TPC Sawgrass’ Dye’s Valley Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and 2017-18 at Atlantic Beach Country Club in Atlantic Beach, Florida, the final event of the Web.com Tour’s 2019 schedule heads to one of the most storied courses on Tour.
A 10-year agreement was signed in December for the club – which had played host to the Tour’s United Leasing & Finance Championship since 2012 – and United Leasing & Finance will become the presenting sponsor.
The players will once again be fighting for a $1 million purse, with $180,000 going to the winner.
Chase Wright, a member of The 25 and Indiana native, told local media at the time of the announcement that the former United Leasing & Finance Championship was a favorite event on Tour – indeed, it won Tournament of the Year in 2017.
Victoria National, a formidable test, is ranked No. 43 on Golf Digest’s Top 100 Golf Courses in the United States.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Some players to keep an eye on in 2019 include …
Tyler McCumber: Won three times on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada to win 2018 Player of the Year honors after finishing No. 1 on the money list.
Harry Higgs: Captured the PGA TOUR Latinoamerica money list by $64. Won once and had seven top-10 finishes.
Callum Tarren: Topped the PGA TOUR Series-China money list after finishing second in the final tournament of the year, one of four runner-up results in 2018, along with 10 top-10s.
Kevin Dougherty: Was one inch short of earning a spot in The 25, as he just barely missed a chip-in birdie on the 72nd hole in Portland. He ended up 26th on the Regular Season money list.
Ben Taylor: Won the Country Club de Bogota Championship in 2018 and finished 29th on the Regular Season money list.
Taylor Moore: Finished 30th on the 2018 Web.com Tour Regular Season money list after three top-five results.
Brad Fritsch: The 41-year-old flipped a house in 2018 to earn extra income since he played only a handful of times around the world. The former PGA TOUR member finished T8 at Final Stage to earn 12 guaranteed starts in 2018.
David Skinns: The 36-year-old won his first Web.com Tour event in 2018 and finished 41st on the Regular Season money list. Withdrew from a Web.com Tour Finals event in 2017 to be with his wife during the birth of their second child.
Edward Loar: The 41-year-old is a two-time Web.com Tour winner. He finished 57th on the 2018 Regular Season money list with two top-five finishes. Made it through Q-School in 2017 after playing mini-tours for a few seasons.
THE NEXT WAVE
Norman Xiong: Finished second at Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School after a decorated college career that included winning the Haskins Award as the most outstanding collegiate golfer in 2018.
Braden Thornberry: The 2017 NCAA individual champion turned professional in December. His 11 wins at the University of Mississippi was a school record. He finished T4 at his first PGA TOUR event in 2017 and won the Haskins Award that same year.
Andy Zhang: Former No. 1 amateur in the world and was a finalist for the Haskins Award in 2018. Works with Sean Foley and qualified for the U.S. Open at 14. Played junior golf alongside Cameron Champ.
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