With the conclusion of the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World on Sunday, the official 2012 PGA Tour season has come to a close. PGA Tour cards for 2013 have been locked up for some Reshuffle List players, while others need to figure out what's next. One golfer, however, found out that going against doctor's orders can sometimes lead to very good things.
Charlie Beljan - Beljan's victory at the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World should have never happened. After somehow shooting a second-round 64 while battling shortness of breath, an elevated heart rate, high blood pressure and what he believes are panic attacks, Beljan was taken out of the scoring trailer on a stretcher and to a hospital. While they found nothing wrong, doctors said he should not play. Beljan said otherwise, shot 71-69 over the weekend and got his first PGA Tour win.
Why did Beljan defy doctors' orders? At 139th on the money list, he needed to finish about 10th or higher to retain his card. Desperate to keep his job, Beljan kept going, and it paid off. He's now fully exempt through 2014, going to Maui in January for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, has a spot in the PGA Championship and a chance to get to Augusta if he plays well early next year. Oh, and now he has time to figure out what caused his panic attack issues to ensure they don't happen again.
Masters or No Masters
Jonas Blixt - Ranking in the top 30 on the season-ending money list earns a trip to Augusta National for those not previously qualified. That was the goal last week for Jonas Blixt. Winning Fall Series events doesn't give you the usual ticket to Augusta that winning most regular FedEx Cup events allows. So after winning the Frys.com Open earlier this fall, Blixt played on, hoping to use the final two Fall Series events to clinch his spot in the first major of 2013. In the end, however, he failed in that mission, finishing 34th on the final money list of the year. He will have a shot to clinch his spot early next season, however, though the criteria beyond winning an event is kind of sketchy at the moment (more on that in a future column.) All in all, Blixt can't be too disappointed, as he got his first PGA Tour victory in 2012 and has a place to play through 2014.
Notable 2013 PGA Tour Cards Clinched
Troy Kelly, Will Claxton, Roberto Castro, Jason Kokrak - Coincidentally, four Reshuffle List players finished 116-119 on the final money list, which was good enough to keep their PGA Tour cards for 2013. Kelly didn't play at Disney, which must have been tough considering he had no control of his own destiny. The other three made the cut, with Castro faring best with a tie for 34th, followed by Claxton's T50 and Kokrak's T59. It was an exceptional turnaround for Kokrak, whose year was pretty much a bust until his tie for second at the Frys.com Open plopped $440K into his bank account and gave him a legitimate chance to keep his playing privileges on the big stage for 2013.
Here's the rest of the Reshuffle list players who retained their PGA Tour cards:
Seung-yul Noh, Matt Every, Ken Duke, William McGirt, Sang-moon Bae, Brian Harman, Harris English, Daniel Summerhays, Greg Owen, John Mallinger, Martin Flores, Colt Knost and Jeff Maggert.
The notable name there is Maggert, the old veteran who gutted it out once again this year to finish at 123 on the money list and keep his card. All that was despite a final-round 73 at Disney and two missed cuts in his last four starts overall.
Off to Q-School They Go:
These notable Reshuffle List players did not secure their spot on the PGA Tour for 2013 and need to go to PGA Tour Qualifying School next month if they wish to get it back. If that fails, and then if they finished high enough to have exempt status, they can go to the Web.com Tour next year and try to play their way back onto the big-league circuit.
Gary Christian, Alexandre Rocha - In the Tiger Woods-led era of $6 million total purses every week, sometimes one shot really can mean everything. For Christian and Rocha, who finished 129th and 130th, respectively, on the final money list - and little more than $30K short of keeping their cards - they'll probably spend the early part of this week wondering where it all got away. That is especially true for Rocha, who lost in a playoff at the Reno-Tahoe Open last August.
Erik Compton - Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient, had a lot of fans following him around this year on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately for both parties, his play didn't match their enthusiasm. He failed to get a top-10 finish, ended up in the top-25 just once and missed nine cuts in his 26 starts. Everyone who knows Compton's story knows he can play, and sometimes the adjustment to week-to-week life on the PGA Tour can be a struggle for rookies. So if Compton is lucky enough to make it back out on Tour, watch out: the guy can flat out play.
Kyle Thompson - It would not be a Reshuffle List column without an update on Thompson, who went most of the first seven months of 2012 without making a penny on the PGA Tour. Since we last checked in, Thompson had a T61 finish at The McGladrey Classic, which added $8,640 to the pot. Following a missed cut at Disney, his 18th of the year, he finished with a year-end total of $45,460, good enough for 227th place on the money list of the 258 players who made money in 2012. Some of the players above him: Champions Tours regulars Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Kenny Perry and Fred Couples.