Australia's Scott Gardiner fired a third round 65 to take the 54 hole lead at the Web.com Championship at the Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. This is the final event in the web.com's playoff series. Today's final round will wrap up the season on the new qualification format for gaining full membership on the PGA Tour for the 2014 season.
PGA Tour veteran Joe Durant, who is seeking to re-gain the full Tour status that he lost back in 2011, is in strong position to do just that as he enters the final round only one stroke back of Gardiner. Durant entered the tournament ranked 67th in the web.com playoff points race and without automatic qualification from the regular tour season. He stands tied with second round leader Chesson Hadley, who is already fully exempt for the coming season.
The PGA Tour historically has held a multi-stage qualification process to determine what 25 players will be added to PGA Tour from the ranks of amateurs considering turning pro as well as pro golfers trying to maintain, gain, or regain tour membership. It culminated through the years with a final five round pressure packed event at the end of PGA Tour Q-School to determine those 25 qualifiers.
One thing that hasn't changed is that the top 25 in web.com tour earnings for the 2013 season have already earned their full PGA Tour cards for 2014. Starting this year, the web.com playoffs and the final web.com championship are being held to determine the final 25 members who will earn full exempt PGA Tour status for next season. The fields in these events have been filled out with the top 75 players on the web.com tour money list, plus the 126 – 200th ranked players in FedEx Cup points from this year's PGA Tour who otherwise haven't gained exempt status in some other means.
The web.com tour's automatic PGA Tour qualifiers are still competing in the web.com playoffs and championship event to establish their priority rankings for non-open PGA Tour events this coming season.
Several 2013 PGA Tour members are on the bubble for their 2014 cards entering the final round, including some who didn't make the cut after two rounds in this final event. One of those who didn't make the weekend is Ricky Barnes, who will need help from the field today to hang on to his card. Right now he's projected to finish 32nd, but could move back up into the top 25 if certain players have poor final rounds. Other 2013 PGA Tour members who need to go low today to avoid losing their cards are Chad Campbell, Robert Karlsson, Sean O'Hair, and Lee Williams.
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