Seamus Power survived what he described as one of his most stressful days on the golf course — not to mention a couple of late scares — to win back his card and earn a second chance at PGA Tour glory in a nail-biting Monday finish in Florida.
The pride of Tooraneena and West Waterford closed with a level par 71 in the Web.com Tour Championship at Atlantic Beach Country Club near Jacksonville, finishing tied for 48th behind Jonathan Byrd to clinch the last of 25 cards via the Web.com Tour Finals money list by just €2,688 from 26th ranked Adam Svensson.
“It was very stressful,” Power confessed as he drove home to Charlotte to prepare for the opening event of the 2017-18 season in California later this week.
“It was so frustrating. When I didn’t get off to a good start, there was very little I could do to improve my own total so I was relying on other people not to go past me, which made it even worse.
“It was nice to sneak in there.
“There were leaderboards out there and after I got off to a bad start I was projected to 22 or 23 but then I made three or four birdies and I was projected to 26th,” Power said of the most stressful week of his life.
“It was hard to know what was going on and being on the other side of the golf course made it even more stressful.
“I got away with one in the end.
“That was about as stressed as I have ever been on the golf course when I was finishing. I was just the helplessness of the whole thing.
“That’s a horrible feeling to have.
“If you are out there and know that making some birdies coming down the stretch would make a difference, it would be a lot easier. But I am coming back down [from the stress]. I am not all the way down but I am getting there."
Including the 25 regular season graduates from the regular Web.com Tour season, the Waterford man will have the 50th card for 2017-18.
It’s a weaker card than he had for his rookie season, when he finished 130th in the FedEx Cup list despite making 19 of 25 cuts. With only the top 125 keeping full status, he came up just short of avoiding the stress of the playoffs.
But having battled is way through the Web.com Tour finals, finishing tied 13th, tied 40th, tied 17th and tied 48th to snatch the 25th and final card by his fingernails, he will still get a full shot retaining it again now.
Roberto Castro’s failed eagle putt at the 18th was the second of two scares dodged by Power on a heart-stopping final day near Jacksonville.
Had the Texan finished with a three, he would have knocked Power out of the top 25 but instead only made birdie for a 70 and a share of eighth, which only got him as far as 30th in the standings.
The first scare was Michigan’s Matt Harmon, who leapt ahead of Power in the projected standings at 25th but missed a three-footer at the 17th and then three-putted the 18th for a bogey six.
Harmon eventually signed for a 70 to finish tied 20th, slipping all the way from 25th to 32nd in The Finals 25 to miss out on his card.
His misfortune was great news for Power, who was projected to finish 19th in the standings starting the week, but found his position varying wildly.
Starting at the 10th, he made a double-bogey five at the 15th and bogeyed the 16th to send his stress levels through the roof.
He later praised caddie his experienced caddied John Rathouz for keeping him “sane” and made four birdies in six holes — at the 18th, second, fourth and fifth to get into the red.
He looked to have thrown his card hopes away again with a bogey at the seventh sending him to 26th in the standings.
He was still 26th walking off the ninth green and needed others to fall back and after Harmon’s mishap, he knew that only an eagle by Castro at the 18th could deny him his card.
In the end, 32-year old Castro missed his long-range eagle try and while he tied for eighth on 16-under par, eight shots behind the winner, he only moved up from 54th to 30th in The Finals 25.
The man finishing an unlucky 26th was Adam Svensson (17th) in the standings starting the week.
He had played with Power in the first two rounds and missed the cut, bringing home the importance of the first two rounds to the Waterford man.
“When I finished, I saw that [Harmon] had gone past me and figured that if he got up and down on 18, I was really in trouble,” Power said.
“But I found out afterwards he made six so it's good fortune for me and obviously a tough one on him.
“Last week was where I really put pressure on myself. I double bogeyed the last hole and if I make a par there it is not even an issue.
“I made it hard on myself and had to make birdie on the last on Friday to make the cut, which in hindsight if I don’t make that, I don’t really have a chance. So it was an interesting week, that’s for sure.”
While he played well for most of his rookie season, Power recorded just one top 10 finish and that made it harder to clock up the FedExCup points he needed to finish in the top 125 as he was missing out on many of the biggest events.
How many events he eventually plays will depend on results. A big week, or an early win, would solve all his problems and change the game.
“I will get into enough tournaments where if I play well, it will make a difference,” Power said. “That’s all you can ask for.
“It’s nice I will see all the courses for the second time and I will know what’s going on. I’m going to have a lot more advantages this year that I didn’t have last year.
“The funny thing is that I am flying out tomorrow morning for the first start of the new season so I don’t have much time to think about it.
“Hopefully I can get back up into a better spot than I was last year so that’s the aim.”
As for sneaking over the line, he said: “I don’t know how much I made it by in the end. I just got a text to say I was No 25.
“I know there were a couple of putts could have cost me. Roberto Castro had a long eagle putt that barely missed and had that gone in, he would have knocked me out.
“It is just a matter of one shot here or there. There were a multitude of possibilities. But I also know that one shot last week would have made the difference for me.
“That’s the nature of the playoffs. It is a sprint and one high finish is better than plodding along. They got the excitement they wanted with the system, that’s for sure.
“I played with Svensson on Thursday and Friday and I knew he was just in front of me in the standings so with him missing the cut, I knew I was going to jump him at least.
“That looks very important now that he is 26th.”
Power will play this week’s Safeway Open in Napa in California and then have two weeks off as the Tour heads to Malaysia and Korea before returning for the final four events of the year in Mississippi, Las Vegas, Mexico and Georgia.
As for the Web.com Tour Championship, five-time PGA Tour winner Jonathan Byrd regained his card following his first Web.com Tour victory in over 16 years.
Byrd entered the final round, which was postponed to Monday after severe rain on Sunday, with a two-shot cushion but rolled in a birdie at the last for a four-under 67 and a four-shot victory over Shawn Stefani and Sam Saunders.
After his final birdie dropped on the 72nd hole, his oldest son, Jackson, raced out onto the green and bear-hugged his dad with the rest of his family not far behind him.
“I think every win's special, they all stand alone, but this one is just — this one's very gratifying,” Byrd said.
“There was I think a lot more hard work went into getting this win and I got tired of telling my kids and my kids kept praying, ‘I want to pray for daddy to get a win.’ It's been a while.
“My youngest, the five‑year‑old, has never got to see me win a tournament and she got to be here today. So it's just very gratifying, very satisfying to just kind of keep labouring, keep labouring and it finally come to pass.”
Stefani posted the round of the day— a six-under 65 in breezy conditions to jump into a share of second and move up 40 spots on the Finals money list (excluding the 25) to secure his PGA Tour card.
Saunders, who opened the week with a 12-under 59, was unable to ride the wave of the opening sub-60 score to the winner’s circle, but he does leave with a prize of his own in the form of his Tour card after jumping up to sixth on the Finals money list (excluding the 25) with a runner-up finish.
As he leaves his home course, Atlantic Beach CC, it’s the 18th hole that he’ll blame for falling just short. For the week, he played the reachable par-five in two-over-par.
“My goal was to win this tournament, too,” Saunders said. “I was looking beyond getting the Tour card back, I was fine with — worst-case scenario, if I had to play out of the 126 or 150 category this year, I would have been fine with that. I was trying to win these golf tournaments in the Web Finals.
“Disappointed not to win but I played really well this week and the 18th hole is the only reason I didn't win the tournament. I played it two over for the week and I didn't hit shots bad enough that I felt like I should have been anything than about 4 under there so there's six shots right there.”
Five players – Byrd (1), Stefani (T2), Matt Jones (T5), Cameron Tringale (T5), and Tom Hoge (T12) – all entered the week outside of the 25 on the Finals money list but jumped into the top 25 with strong finishes to secure their Tour cards.
Finals Money List Standing/Money/Web.com Tour Championship Finish
- 21. Steve Wheatcroft $44,526 T16
- 22. Chad Collins $44,348 T20
- 23. Tom Hoge $44,048 T12
- 24. Joel Dahmen $41,943 MC
- 25. Seamus Power $40,625 T48
- 26. Adam Svensson $37,937 MC
- 27. Ben Crane $37,870 DNP
- 28. Matthew Southgate $37,635 MC
- 29. Cameron Percy $37,203 T20
- 30. Roberto Castro $36,526 T8