DAVIDSON – The Web.com Tour’s first finals event was a breeze for 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman. He claimed the Hotel Fitness Championship and a $180,000 prize.
The second tournament wasn’t as kind to Immelman. He missed the cut in the Chiquita Classic at River Run Country Club by one shot. The South African’s up-and-down start didn’t stop him from appreciating the new finals concept adopted by the Web.com Tour, the PGA Tour’s developmental league.
Players previously fought for a PGA Tour card by advancing through qualifying school, or “Q-School.” Now, their easiest method is to compete for 50 PGA Tour cards by making the Web.com Tour Finals, which consists of players ranked 126-200 in FedEx Cup points on the PGA Tour and the top 75 money winners in the Web.com Tour’s regular season.
“It’s interesting. I think all of us are getting used to it,” Immelman said of the new format. “I’m sure there will be a few more tweaks and changes for next (season), but so far, it looks like a good start.”
PGA Tour regular Troy Matteson, who tied for sixth in the Chiquita Classic, said the Tour Finals makes for compelling golf.
“This really ups the game for the Web.com Tour,” Matteson said. “It really shows how intertwined the Web.com Tour is with the PGA Tour. If you go back and look at all the great players on the PGA Tour, a high percentage of them come from the Web.com Tour. I spent two years (2004-05) out here and they were two of the best years I remember. Nobody wants to be fighting for their job, but this is a pretty good way to do it.”
John Peterson, who tied for third at River Run and tied for fourth at the 2012 U.S. Open, agreed.
“It’s awesome,” Peterson said of the Tour Finals. “I hated Q-School. I went to it twice and never made it through one stage. I didn’t feel comfortable. You get 16 rounds (with the Finals) instead of six, and I think it’s a better test of who can play well and keep their endurance throughout a month.”
Winning one of the four tournaments provides a player with enough money to essentially lock in a spot on the PGA Tour. Immelman’s victory, he said, was nearly as satisfying as his Masters title, because it put him back on the PGA Tour.
“We thoroughly enjoyed (the Hotel Fitness Championship win). We worked hard for it,” Immelman said. “We enjoyed the moment, but we’re putting it behind us and going for the next one. Our goal is to win the money list from the four (Finals) events. We’ve got to keep pushing.”