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News & Tours

A LOT happened at the Web.com Tour Championship. Here are 9 things you need to know

The Web.com Tour Finals concluded with the Tour Championship on Sunday and finalized who will be playing where next season. Twenty-five golfers earned their PGA Tour cards for 2014-15, joining the 25 who had already done so by their finish on the Web.com Tour's regular season money list. Those heartwarming tales were just part of a story that had plenty of heartbreak as well. Here are some of the highs and lows from Sunday's finish at TPC Sawgrass.

-- Derek Fathauer didn't need to do anything last week, having already locked up a PGA Tour card through his regular season play, but that doesn't mean his Web.com Tour Championship win wasn't important. In addition to the $180,000 check he earned for his first professional title, Fathauer finished first in the Web.com Tour Finals (the four-event postseason series). That means he is fully exempt on the PGA Tour next year and will make his first appearance at the Players.

Related: 8 eye-popping stats from the PGA Tour season

-- Adam Hadwin will also have the same privileges as Fathauer next season based on finishing first on the Web.com Tour combined money list from the regular season and postseason. Coincidentally, Hadwin was a teammate of Fathauer at the University of Louisville from 2004-2008. Sounds like a pretty good Cardinals squad.

-- Carlos Ortiz missed the cut in his final three events of the season, but he might be the Web.com Tour graduate most likely to succeed on the PGA Tour next year. Ortiz's playoff performance had no bearing on his status for next season after a third Web.com Tour win of 2014 ensured him an immediate promotion to the big leagues next year. The 23-year-old Ortiz is the first player since Michael Sim to win three times on the developmental tour in one year, and is just the fifth Mexican player to earn his PGA Tour card.

-- Eric Axley, a former PGA Tour winner won't be fully exempt like the Fathauer, Hadwin, and Ortiz, but he's relieved to have any status at all. After missing a five-footer for par on the final hole, Axley waited for nearly four hours to see if he would get his card. He did, barely, finishing No. 50 on the Web.com Tour's priority list.

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Zac Blair had a big week at TPC Sawgrass.

-- From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Roberto Castro is feeling a little different than the first four guys mentioned. After finishing No. 135 on the FedEx Cup points list, Castro finished a slim $31.66 behind No. 50 Eric Axley on the Web.com Tour Final's money list. That difference means instead of a return trip to the PGA Tour, Castro, who tied a Players Championship record with a 63 in 2013, will now have to earn playing status on the Web.com Tour at Q School in December.

-- Travis Bertoni is also feeling a bit blue today after narrowly missing out on earning his PGA Tour card. Instead of talking about what happened to the 30-year-old journeyman, why don't you just watch:

It doesn't get much more brutal than that.

-- Back to happier things, Arnold Palmer is one proud grandpa today. Sam Saunders' strong playoff run (T-4, T-16, T-12, and T-7 at the Web.com Tour Championship), means the King's grandson will be a PGA Tour member for the first time in 2014-15. In 22 career events on the PGA Tour, Saunders has two top 25s.

Related: The best and worst from 2014's major championships

-- But no one came up bigger in the season's final event than Zac Blair. The recent graduate of BYU had missed four straight cuts and was No. 118 on the Web.com Tour's priority list until his solo second at TPC Sawgrass vaulted him 107 spots. Blair was one of six golfers to play his way into the tour's top-50 priority list.

-- Oh, well, maybe one player came up bigger. After stumbling with a Saturday 75, Nick Taylor needed a low final round to finish in the top 50 on the priority list. He responded with a 63 -- the low round of the day by three shots -- to earn his PGA Tour card for the first time. Clutch!

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Gear & Equipment

Yes, Rory McIlroy might be using a new driver at the Ryder Cup

loop-Rory-mcilroy-Nike-vapor-driver-v2-280.jpgCould Rory McIlroy be putting a new driver in play this week at the Ryder Cup? The door appears open to that possibility after four new Nike drivers -- the Vapor Pro and three iterations of the Vapor Speed -- appeared on the USGA's conforming driver list for the first time Monday. McIlroy was spotted on the driving range at Gleneagles practicing with the Vapor Pro (right).

Judging from the listing as well as photos of the club that appeared this weekend, two things stand out with the new offerings, which aren't expected to hit retail markets until 2015. Out is the VRS Covert and Covert 2.0 red color, and in (or more appropriately back) is the compression channel that Nike first used in its VR drivers.

The return of the channel seems likely due to some prodding from Tiger Woods, who used the VR driver with success. "I pushed our team to bring back the compression channel because sometimes I like to shape shots by teeing the ball down and hitting it lower on the face," Woods said. "With the compression channel, I'm able to do that and not lose as much ball speed."

One other model believed to be part of the Vapor line, the Vapor Flex, which is designed with an adjustable sole weight, did not appear on the Sept. 22 conforming list.

Photo: Getty Images

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News & Tours

Missing Links: McIlroy now calls Ryder Cup 'ultimate buzz,' and Victor Dubuisson, 'the new Garbo'

Stories of interest you might have missed...

Five years ago, Rory McIlroy expressed ambivalence toward the Ryder Cup, even calling it an exhibition. Today? “Once you’ve been part of it, you know it’s the ultimate buzz,” he says in this story by Derek Lawrenson in the Daily Mail.

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Rory McIlroy practicing for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles (Getty Images photo)

“[Victor] Dubuisson does not have Seve’s craving to be the centre of attention. He would rather be the new Garbo. He wants to be alone. He is Europe’s brooding, temperamental, enigmatic, international man of mystery. Hardly ideal attributes to bring to the team room,” Paul Mahoney of the Independent writes in this story on the Ryder Cup rookie.

Three weeks ago, the wife of Matt Kuchar’s caddie, Lance Bennett, unexpectedly died of a seizure, leaving behind a husband and four-year-old daughter. This week, Bennett returns to work for Kuchar, at the Ryder Cup. “Amid the feverish tribal urgings that will be on show at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, a thought needs to be spared for a brave American caddie,” Lawrenson writes in the Daily Mail.

Laura Davies is thrilled that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club finally will admit women. “I remember as a young golfer when I was about 15, you weren’t even allowed to walk in front of the window [of the clubhouse],” she said. “You were allowed on the course but not in front of the men's bar. That sort of thing has gone by the board now.” Rob Hoskin of givemesport.com writes.

It’s not an uncommon story, those who buy houses adjacent to a golf course then complain about the number of golf balls that infiltrate their property. One such family who moved into a $3.4 million house has sued Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., and, should the family prevail in court, "I think the negative impact of this becoming a precedent would be significant," Metropolitan Golf Association executive director Jay Mottola says in this story by Mike Dougherty of the Journal-News.

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News & Tours

Rickie Fowler shaved "USA" into the side of his head and it's the best thing ever

Rickie Fowler, you are America. That is all.

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News & Tours

Miami Dolphin penalized for post-TD putting celebration

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline was penalized for a golf putt and restrained fist pump celebration after scoring in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. 

After the NFL banned "dunks" this year, the number of celebration options for players in the "No Fun League" have been mostly eradicated. So big brownie points from the golf world go out to Hartline, a 27-year-old out of Ohio State who finished with three receptions for 25 yards. Though his arms look a bit stiff for a natural putting stroke. Then again, it might just be all the padding preventing him from showing off his real stroke.

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My Usual Game

Better golf, in Fizzies form

I played football in junior high school and for a little while in high school, in the late 1960s and very early 1970s. We had two-a-day practices each August, before school began. This was in Kansas City, where summertime temperatures occasionally reached a hundred degrees, and the humidity was so high that the air felt like a swimmable liquid, and the droning of cicadas gave the heat an aural dimension. 

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My school’s locker room had a salt-tablet dispenser. We were encouraged to help ourselves before practice but weren’t supposed to drink much water, which was said to cause cramps.
 
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Taped to the wall near the salt dispenser was a large photograph, labeled “Johnny Condition,” of someone throwing up into a toilet -- probably a water guzzler. There was a drinking fountain behind home plate on the baseball diamond; we were allowed to visit it once or twice each morning and afternoon, but were encouraged not to swallow. Then, midway through a practice one day in 1970, our coaches gave us each a paper cup containing an orange liquid, which they had produced by stirring powder into a big plastic tub. The powder had been invented by scientists at the University of Florida, and the liquid was called Gatorade. It was the dawning of the Age of Hydration. 

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Nowadays, of course, there are people who won't attend a thirty-minute office meeting without a big bottle of something to sip on. But overdoing it is undoubtedly healthier than underdoing it. And I’ve observed, over the course of many summers, that not drinking enough water on a hot day has a major impact, late in a round, on my ability to swing a golf club. Drinking water also gives me something soothingly self-distracting to do while my opponent dithers over a shot in a tense match.

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The problem with Gatorade and other sports drinks is that they’re loaded with sugars or artificial sweeteners, and if you drink them like water they’re also expensive. Recently, I’ve discovered an excellent workaround: “Active Hydration” tablets made by a company called Nuun. 
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They contain the good stuff in sports drinks, including electrolytes (whatever those are) and various other things, and they don’t contain sugar. They come in plastic tubes, which you can safely keep in your golf bag, and when you drop one of the tablets into your water bottle it fizzes. Do you hear me? It fizzes.

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Gear & Equipment

David Edel rethinks weighting in putters with his E-Series line

Puttermaker David Edel believes traditional putters can make the golfer work too hard to control the way the face rotates open or closed. He thinks unlike traditional face-balanced or toe-down designs, the best weighting places the putterhead in a toe-up position, what he calls "torque balanced."

loop-E-1-Iso-Cavity-518.jpgHis new Torque Balanced E-Series putters feature a cavity in the sole's toe. "It eliminates a lot of the hidden element of face rotation that people suffer with," Edel says. "Whether you're a straight-back, straight-through putter or an arc putter, the face on this putter mimics the path."

loop-E-1-Bottom-Face-518.jpgThe E-Series ($295) includes mallet (shown), back-radiused blade and parallel-backed blade designs. A weight screw in the heel allows for three possible head weights (359, 365 and 374 grams).

Interested in more stories on equipment? Signup to receive Golf Digestix, a weekly digital magazine that offers the latest news, new product introductions and behind-the-scenes looks at all things equipment.

 

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News & Tours

Missing Links: Rory McIlroy a marked man, and ‘hurrah...for the doughty members’ of Royal and Ancient Golf Club

Stories of interest you might have missed...

Is stopping Rory McIlroy the key to the U.S. hopes in the Ryder Cup? Some think so, including, possibly, U.S. captain Tom Watson. “Rory McIlroy knows he will be the man with a target on his back at the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles next week… and he can’t wait,” Derek Lawrenson of the Daily Mail writes. “The world number one was responding to American captain Tom Watson’s comments that he wants his team to ‘take down the top dogs,’ a reference to McIlroy and Ian Poulter.”

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(Getty Images photo)

Missing the cut at the Wales Open a week before can’t be a good sigh for a Ryder Cup rookie, yet Stephen Gallacher apparently is not bothered by it. “I will be positive the moment I step on Gleneagles turf,” the Daily Record’s Euan McLean reports. “I don’t think you need to get up for that. That’s what I’ve been looking forward to. I’ve done my preparation for it already. Now I just want to get up there and get involved.”

“Hurrah then, for the doughty members [of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club], who voted by an overwhelming majority of 85 per cent to end the men-only rule,” Rowan Pelling writes in the Telegraph. “I like to think that they weren’t just acting under pressure from the Open’s sponsors, but that they found the right answer to: “Hmm, who would I rather sit next to - Justin Rose, Colin Montgomorie, or La Stupenda, Clare Balding?”

“Detroit was good; Valderrama was great,” Lee Westwood said in this Scotsman story on Westwood’s passion for the Ryder Cup. “At that time, I was 24-years-old and I am sat in a room with Bernhard Langer, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo - all my heroes I had watched growing up - and they are jumping about like schoolboys because they had won the Ryder Cup.”

Blayne Barber heretofore has been known for being disqualified from tournaments, notably when he disqualified himself from the second stage of PGA Tour qualifying in 2012 for having assessed himself only a one-stroke penalty for a violation that called for a two-stroke penalty. Now, he’s on the verge of joining the PGA Tour. Gary Smits of the Florida Times-Union has the story.

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Travel

Marriott is offering college students discounted green fees

College students don't have much income but do have plenty of expenses: tuition, books, food, beverages, etc. Paying fat green fees can be a budget-buster.

loop-marriott-camelback-518.jpgScottsdale's JW Marriott Camelback G.C. (13th hole at the Ambiente Course, shown) is among the courss offering discounted rates to college students. (Lonna Tucker)

Marriott's College Links program is designed to give students a break. The program allows college students to play at the nearly two dozen participating Marriott Golf properties nationwide from now through June 1, 2015.

Students showing their college ID after 3 p.m. will be charged a discounted twilight rate ($29-$69) plus a twilight voucher for a future round.

Go to collegegolflinks.com for the complete list of participating courses.

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Ryder Cup

Predict the final score of the Ryder Cup, win a Cleveland Wedge

The Ryder Cup is famous -- or infamous -- for all the swag handed out to players, captains and other assorted dignitaries. Now it's time for you to get in on the act. The way for you to get your hands on one of these Ryder Cup Edition Cleveland wedges is by predicting who's going to win the Ryder Cup and by how much. But before you start throwing out random numbers, take a look at the stats Cleveland compiled…

wedge_set[1].jpg The guys at Cleveland predict that 65 percent of shots hit will be from 125 yards and in.
 
Next, they analyzed each player's stats for putting from 3-5', strokes gained putting, scrambling, sand save, greens in regulation within 125 yards, and approach distance from 100-125 yards. They took all these numbers, and averaged the U.S. team members' scores and European scores separately. From these numbers, the American team has a solid advantage.

Here's where you come in: Look at the graphic that illustrates the breakdown of stats, and calculate what the final score of the Ryder Cup will be.  
 
You can enter on social media by using the hashtag #Score4theCup, or you can enter online at clevelandgolf.com. All of the correct answers will be entered to win a 588 Forged RTG with Rotex face wedge, styled for either the US or Euro Team.

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