NEWS Tour Championship set to decide last 2015-16 PGA Tour cards

By Garry Smits
Published on Tour Championship set to decide last 2015-16 PGA Tour cards

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Andrew Loupe had to make a 5-foot par putt at the 18th hole of the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley Course in the final round of the 2013 Tour Championship to earn his PGA Tour card.
The former LSU star will have a more relaxed stroll around the Valley this year.
Loupe's final-round 70 in on difficult conditions at the Ohio State Scarlet Course last Sunday gave him a two-shot victory in the Nationwide Children's Hospital Classic on Sunday. His 5-under 279 edged Tom Hoge, Bronson Burgoon and 54-hole leader Roberto Castro.
"I kept telling myself to take it on this week," Loupe told "It's been a long time since I've won. I guess I've got to cherish these moments. It's hard to win in golf."
Loupe and 130 other players will now attack the Valley Course beginning on Thursday to determine the PGA Tour cards that will be awarded to the top 25 on the Finals money list. The top three are the three winners of Finals events in the past three weeks, Chez Reavie ($215,066), Henrik Norlander ($203,152) and Loupe ($190,642).
The field is drawn from the top 75 players on the final regular-season Tour money list and Nos. 126-200 off the final regular-season PGA Tour FedExCup points list.
The player on the No. 25 bubble entering the week is Jhonattan Vegas ($28,871). Eric Axley clinched the last card off Finals money in 2014 with $36,311, a figure exceeded by only 15 players entering the week.
That leaves at least 10 cards up for grabs. The potential is there for rapid movement up and down the money list as the Tour Championship grinds on through 72 holes.
Billy Hurley III is 26th on the list, only $254 behind Vegas. No. 27 Scott Langley is $387 behind Hurley and No. 28 Andrew Yun is $1,230 behind Langley.
The purse for all Finals events is $1 million. There are 15 players behind Vegas who can pass him with a finish of solo 19th or higher.
On the other side of the card chase are the players who finished among the top-25 in regular-season earnings, led by Patton Kizzire. They are playing for a higher priority ranking, which would lead to more starts when the 2015-2016 season begins next week with the Championship.
Ponte Vedra Beach resident Harold Varner III tied for 16th in Columbus and his risen from 25th at the end of the regular season to 17th this week.
Only one player has a chance to catch Kizzire ($532,740) for the overall money title. Dawie van der Walt ($365,609) is $167,131 behind and would have to win (and a $180,000 first-place check), and hope Kizzire misses the cut.
The leading overall earner will be fully exempt onto the PGA Tour and get a berth in The Players Championship in May.
The field of 131 players features 19 past PGA Tour winners, the most in the three years of the Tour Championship. That includes multiple winners Robert Allenby, Aaron Baddeley, Jonathan Byrd of St. Simons Island, Ga., 2009 U.S Open champion Lucas Glover, Tim Herron, Rod Pampling, D.A. Points, John Rollins and Vaughn Taylor.
Other notable players who will be at the Valley:
-- Local residents in addition to Byrd and Varner, Tim Wilkinson, Luke Guthrie and Bud Cauley.
-- Curtis and Nicholas Thompson, the older brothers of LPGA major champion Lexi Thompson.
-- Sam Saunders, the grandson of charter World Golf Hall member Arnold Palmer.
-- Anirban Lahiri of India, the highest-ranking player in the world (No. 39 this week) to compete in the Tour Championship.
This article was written by Garry Smits from The Florida Times-Union and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.